NEW INC: Cultural Incubator 

Value-Driven Research for Organizational Health 

NEW INC is the first museum-led cultural incubator, founded in 2014 by the New Museum in New York City. It supports an interdisciplinary cohort of members–creative practitioners developing businesses and building projects. It's a community aiming to "foster cultural value, not just capital value."

Project Timeline: January to May 2017

At the start of each yearly cohort, all the members of NEW INC participate in a two-week bootcamp. One of the sessions during the bootcamp is dedicated to defining the new cohort's set of community values–What values do they want to see enacted in the space when they move in? Which values are important to keep the space healthy?

Phase 1 | Rediscover

We found the values members and staff identified as important to them, like presence and empathy, were difficult for them to remember to practice on a regular basis and even more difficult to measure. 

Phase 2 | Envision

We developed a strategy to allow members to engage with and work on the community values on a daily basis.  The vision became, "How might we keep these community values tangible and live in the space?"

Phase 3 | Build

Through our Materializing process we translated the qualities of practicing empathy or generosity, for instance, into physical objects. 

Three translations were installed in the office space in locations where the corresponding community value was most important to practice. 

Phase 4 | Sustain

Maintaining people's engagement with the community values over time was one of the primary measures of success. Through regular documentation, surveying, orientation sessions, and interviews, we identified to what degree and how often members engage with community values.

In addition, the NEW INC directors and staff were provided with six member engagement profiles, insights on what physical changes might support members' emotional and physical needs, and a set of five new entry-points for the incubator to incorporate in to their strategic planning for the new upcoming cohort.

Photo:  NEW INC

Photo: NEW INC

NEW INC members negotiate definitions and components of community values in a two-hour workshop.

NEW INC members negotiate definitions and components of community values in a two-hour workshop.

Documentation Station allows for documenting members' experience with the community values in real time. Data collected over 6 weeks.

Documentation Station allows for documenting members' experience with the community values in real time. Data collected over 6 weeks.


Design Poetics 

Workplace Installations and Rituals for People’s Emotional Well-Being

Design Poetic for the Workplace is a novel design approach that centers around knowledge workers’ emotions. The program helps companies and organizations understand employees’ unstated emotional needs and address them through the customized design of workplace “rituals.”

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Phase 1 | Discover

Among 200 working Americans interviewed, 88% of the people surveyed said they want more emotion in the workplace. While workplace design is moving from work-centered design towards human-centered design, the missing piece is dedicated space and design for emotions in the workplace.

Phase 2 | Envision

Workplace is a place that creates the condition for better work. What if workplace design could not only accommodate the functional needs for achieving great work, but also the emotional one?

Phase 3 | Build

Starting from identifying the desired emotions, and then contextualizing through metaphors, those emotional needs are addressed through a set of objects. They are ‘curiosity,’ ‘forgiveness,’ ‘calm,’ ‘belonging,’ ‘connection,’ and ‘confidence.’ They embody a series of contemporary rituals which help people engage with neglected emotions in the work environment.

Phase 4 | Sustain

Makeshift Society is a co-working space and creative community that enables freelancers and small teams to start and grow their businesses. This set of ritualistic design was implemented in the space of Makeshift Society and received positive feedback from the members who incorporated them into their work life.

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