Activating Spaces—Part One, Workshop findings

At Asia Pacific Design Library we love to experiment. We are a team that likes to play with design and invent dynamic ways of presenting content. For our most recent experiment, we asked for help from our wider community and the response was incredible.

This past Wednesday, academics, industry professionals and design fanatics alike came together as a part of our Activating Spaces Workshop. Initially, we aimed to answer the question ‘How might we make content more discoverable and meaningful within the Asia Pacific Design Lounge?’. The answers we received were surprising, innovative and provided us with exciting new opportunities to continue to enhance the experience within the Design Library.


Our first session was a bodystorming experiment aimed to explore the typical experience of an APDL visitor. Each participant was provided with a book and asked to find it within the design library. A few things became evident within this session:

 Experience is the focus. Serendipitous encounters of knowledge are the predominant benefit of the APDL. That is, finding information that you wouldn’t necessarily know to look for or expect that can still be interesting and inspiring.
Collective knowledge of individuals. Most found that it was easiest to find books when teaming up with each other and helping each other to find information.
More information about the collection is needed. It was made clear that the book finding system that is currently being employed by the Design Lounge is not commonly known about or easy to find out about.
Lack of clarity. Categorisation of books is not clear. Signage is hard to find and information about each section is not obvious.

In our idea generation and rapid prototyping sessions, an interesting pattern emerged. It became pretty clear to us that perhaps we weren’t asking the right question for our audience. The focus shifted from how to make content more discoverable to how to enrich the content that we already have. In particular, participants highlighted the need to increase the connections between visitors through the content of the design library. In what ways can we learn from each other and assist each other to learn? Are there ways of making connections between design professionals and new designers, design experts and design enthusiasts, as well as interdisciplinary connections? A few potential ideas from this session include:

 Creating physical connections book clubs, book readings, designer in residence, formation of a community
Project collaboration. Building a space where people can collaborate on design problems
Content mapping. Creating a social graph, how many people have read/ recommended/ referenced/ connected with a book.  How do we track and represent this? How do we create connections between the people who generate this data?

 At the end of the session, we identified the short-term, medium-term and long-term courses of action for the APDL. Tomorrow, we’ll post the second part of this blog post where we’ll look at these actions in a little more detail. In the meantime, do you have some thoughts about your experiences in the design lounge you’d like to share? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, by email ( or in the comments.