reframing method

Reframing Studio is unique in using the Reframing process* to help companies and organisations develop and maintain relevance for the future. By anticipating future concerns, we develop products and services that are meaningful for both users and society. Reframing is a design thinking skill as well as a strategic skill. Reframing enables designers to come up with fresh and compelling solutions that act upon a future world. Reframing enables strategists to map possible directions through strategic frameworks and identify future business opportunities. Based on a new frame of reference we translate future concepts into roadmaps and short term solutions that are attractive for people and society, profitable for companies and work in the real world. The reframing process goes through several phases and specific steps that provide a clear design trajectory for each project. 

Reframing is based on three fundamental stances:

1) being proactive versus reactive

The development and implementation of a design, whether it is a product, a service, or a policy, takes time. What once appeared a brilliant idea may therefore be completely out-dated by the time it becomes reality. Our world is continuously changing. If we want our designs to have a reason to exist, we are forced to create an understanding of the design’s future context first, to understand what issues will be at stake for the design by that time.

This proactive attitude increases possibilities for innovation. It is quite common that innovation, or the urge to innovate, is a reaction to an undesirable or problematic situation. However, a ‘problem frame’ hardly ever provides the framework needed to design an innovative solution, and therefore easily leads only to incremental innovations. In fact, a reactive attitude implies controlling symptoms rather than understanding its cause. We help companies to reframe the situation to come up with genuinely new perspectives.

2) being value-relevant

To design for the future context is to track what future concerns of people will be at stake. For instance, as health care shifts towards greater self-efficacy, people will be expected to negotiate higher levels of expertise by themselves. The design that addresses this shared concern of individual users will be the design that is also relevant and meaningful to the society.  

Similarly, Cycling routes to work prioritize the environment, but as individuals we may wish to take the car for different reasons. Reframing Studio is skilled at designs that overcome such clashes in concerns. Our public/societal interventions create meaning at the individual level, in order to develop personal products and services with societal benefit. For this reason our clients are very diverse.

3) designing relations rather than things

A product or service is simply a means for people to relate to the world around them. Products and services enable people to experience things differently or to do things differently than they did before. A smartphone is meaningful because it allows people to stay in touch with their complete ICT needs remotely; a paperclip enables people to order and bundle documents with care. In other words, products and services only gain meaning according to the relations they make possible.

Reframing Studio is keen on designing these relations first, before thinking about the object as such. Only when we are confident that the final design establishes the relation we defined beforehand, we are confident that the design indeed becomes meaningful to people in the way we envisioned. Hence, every design is accompanied by a vision of the user-product interaction and the experiences or actions this should lead to.

* The reframing process is based on the method Vision in Product design (ViP), which has been developed at the Delft University of Technology by founding partner Prof. Ir. Matthijs van Dijk together with Prof. dr. Paul Hekkert.

Hekkert & Van Dijk (2011) Vision in Design, a guidebook for innovators. Amsterdam: BIS publishers.

Reframing method

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