Design, a transformative and multifunctional experience

February 2022 | News

Actiu, as part of the 5th edition of the Madrid Design Festival, held the first of a series of meetings on design, architecture, sustainability, well-being and creativity at its Madrid showroom. An event organised in collaboration with Women in Office Design (WOD) - a community set up with a view to giving visibility to female architects, designers, interior designers..., which, under the title of 'Design, a transformative and multifunctional experience' has looked at the role of design from the multifunctional and strategic perspective of the business world, and the key role it plays in improving the quality of life in cities and transforming regions.

Soledat Berbegal, Consultant and Brand Reputation Director at Actiu and co-founder of WOD Spain chaired a meeting between three design leaders on very different yet, at the same time, complementary topics. Design and territory, with the Director of Valencia World Design Capital 2022, Xavi Calvo; design and architecture, with the Executive Director of Architecture at Savills Aguirre Newman, Leyre Octavio de Toledo; and the strategic vision of design in the business world with the strategic director of the Design Network of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum, Marisa Santamaría.

Talking about Valencia as World Design Capital entails discussing how to improve people's well-being with a view to transforming the region and how cities can improve through design”, states Xavi Calvo, who points out the need for multifunctional design across all areas. A type of design that can improve cities and the lives of those who live in them through small actions and spatial projects, or larger scale urban developments, that transform the city and make it more accessible.

Together with the local region and cities, architecture and spaces are also key when it comes to improving the experience and providing value and well-being to their users. “Our aim is to make people's lives happier through architecture and spaces”, explains Leyre Octavio de Toledo, who highlights the number of challenges that companies have to face and even more so in the wake of the pandemic. Challenges that arise from a hybrid and flexible model, that seek to maintain levels of productivity and innovation, getting the best out of workers and retaining talent, where the design of spaces plays a key role.

We work for companies whose talent is ever-changing, with three to four different generations, huge diversity, different genders and a wide range of needs and cultures”, adds Octavio de Toledo, for whom spaces should generate well-being and, at the same time, convey the company's corporate identity and values. Places conceived beyond fashions and trends, responding to needs and uses while reconnecting people and businesses.

In Marisa Santamaría's opinion, it is of the utmost importance to take note of how design has become increasingly permeable between the different areas: from product design or interior design, to the new conception of industry and spaces, digitalisation and audio-visuals, but also in strategies, new processes and systems that make how companies work and communicate more effectively. “At a time when things are changing at an ever-increasing speed, design not only makes companies more profitable, it also helps them evolve in line with society, people and the new spheres and contexts of modern times” points out the strategic director of the Design Network of the Leading Brands of Spain Forum. 

Nowadays, dissemination is the key; not strictly to communicating, but to making people aware; it is about coming to terms with the fact that Spain is part of an extraordinary context” adds Santamaría, who highlights the need to promote design, not only through industry brands themselves, but also in other contexts. 

Valencia has become World Design Capital because, for the first time, the design community has looked beyond the design community and industry and businesses have turned to designers”, highlights Xavi Calvo, who emphasises how design supports companies through an array of processes, the most important of which is perhaps digitalisation. A digital shift towards new universes, where the boundaries between global and local elements are becoming blurred, and which will have a significant influence on design types and processes, as well as the end user experience.

How culture and the way we work will be experienced, or how colours and images will be received in the widely publicised Metaverse are some of the unknown elements of this not-so-distant future. A real challenge for companies and professionals who, as pointed out by Soledat Berbegal, “Must learn to listen to the new generations, who are much more digital and diverse, thereby designing collaborative and inclusive spaces”.

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