Wednesday, November 14, 2012

4 questions with WATG

Krystal Solorzano, designer at WATG,  spoke on behalf of the whole team involved in Mosaic at the firm. She shined light on the collaborative nature of the group, and how they had entered the competition multiple times in previous years to showcase their bold designs. 

Mosaic took home the grand prize at Radical Innovation 2010. 

1)  What provoked the concepts of Mosaic?

The essence of Mosaic was created while developing our entry for the 2010 Radical Innovation in Hospitality design competition, which WATG has entered every year since its inception in 2007.

One of the most difficult issues was defining a problem in the hospitality sector that we could then solve through design. Since this was the fourth time we had entered the Radical Innovation in Hospitality competition (with multiple entries in the two previous years), it was important that this year’s entry stand out from the crowd as new, inspiring, and relevant. Many current economic, environmental, social and technological trends played a part in the conceptualization of the project:

a) We discussed the fact that hotels often go through a period each year where various properties are below ideal capacity for business and how we might solve for the fluctuation in demand.
b) With the recent natural disasters making news, it was important for us to think about those affected and how the hospitality industry might start to aid those in need.
c) There is a growing trend in eco- and volunteer-based tourism, which we felt would continue to grow and become even more relevant and prevalent in the future.
d) Technological advances in social media and open source design were considered as pieces of the overall concept, as well.

As we researched each of these issues as possible foundations for our concept, we decided to try to address all of them in our concept package. The final design would have to be modular, flexible, environmentally sustainable, and highly customizable while still reflecting the refined quality that goes into every WATG-designed property. We needed to design a single prototype that would fit all of these, something that would adapt easily to all uses -- from a guestroom to a medical treatment center – which only added to the complexity.

2) How feasible is Mosaic? Which city do you think is most suitable for the implementation of this project?

$15k-25k to build, $25k-35k retail (per module).  The beauty of Mosaic is that it has been designed to be adaptable to any environment or location, so there’s no wrong place to implement the concept. One of the major areas we saw the concept being used for within the hospitality market was for seasonal demand. Owners and operators could add and subtract rooms as needed and also relocate rooms to other properties as seasonality demands shift in different locations.

3) Of the different functions that the Mosaic has to offer  - hospitality, vacation, housing, emergency shelter and support – which do you think is going to be the highest in demand? Why?

For the most part we’ve been focused on the hospitality market and as mentioned above can see the concept lending itself well to seasonal demands of properties. Owners and operators can expand and contract as needed, cutting back on operational costs and keeping their occupancy as close to 100% as possible year round. While we believe Mosaic could be a fantastic solution for emergency shelter, over the course of about a year we discovered that it’s quite difficult to implement something like this as personal living shelters where they may be considered better than local housing and now believe it may be better suited for the more communal needs such as administrative offices, food distribution halls, medical clinics, etc.

4) What does the Grand Prize win at Radical Innovation mean to you? How did it help your ideas take flight?

We took the $10,000 grand prize and continued to develop Mosaic. We started with a rough prototype model out of wood to study the space, we created interactive virtual environments to walk through to get a better understanding of the interior design and then we built a full scale visual prototype which we introduced at the 2011 Hospitality Design Expo where visitors had the opportunity to walk through and interact with it.

Mosaic was and still is a project that not only brought the firm recognition in design innovation but is also a project that many people had a hand in creating.  It truly serves as a great example of the power of collaboration.

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