A dozen ways to look at innovation.

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A dozen ways to look at innovation.

This small book is a compilation of Quicksand’s recent work, and our response to the big question: What does innovation mean?


Envisioning a new sparkling beverage experience inspired by the rich and vibrant culinary landscape of India // Coca-Cola

Fattabox, an inspiration collateral from a project across India, China and Nigeria focused on new product opportunities for household care for the BoP // Unilever


Global Brands, Re-invented Locally The unique constraints and opportunities of emerging markets requires an imaginative and novel response from global brands. While innovation efforts are often focused on adaptation of products and services, the nuances of a new culture can necessitate a complete reimagination of existing business models. Quicksand has helped global brands dive deeper into cultural discovery, and build products around new user behaviors and business ecosystems.


Customer Experience as Competitive Edge A renewed focus on customer experience can have far reaching implications for all parts of the business system, including the core product offering, internal operations, staff capabilities, and all customer facing, service touch points. Long lasting differentiation needs unflinching commitment to change at all levels. Quicksand has partnered organizations to develop long term, customer-centered design strategy for their products and services.


Envisioning a differentiated experience for a new consumer bank across all product and service touchpoints // IDFC

Reimagining an end-to-end customer experience across all channels for a food major in an effort to drive customercentricity and build organisational innovation capacity // Jubilant FoodWorks


A year-long engagement to design product, service, and system alternatives to plastic bags in Cambodia to drive significant social change in the country // ACRA

Designing for significant and lasting change requires understanding all of the drivers behind the challenges one seeks to address, as well as the roles, needs, constraints, and concerns of those working to address them. While innovation is the necessary shot in the arm that the social sector needs, these efforts must stand on the shoulder of giants - specifically organizations that have built a formidable understanding of communities over years of service. A multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary and holistic approach is required to design and deliver effective solutions. Other Experience Project Sammaan, a multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated to redesigning and improving community sanitation facilities for India’s urban slums, supported with a grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation // IFMR A series of engagements to understand the sewage and waste treatment system ecosystem in India and gauge appetite for new technologies or system improvements among stakeholders - public and private // RTI International


Design for Complex Social Change

Design of diagnostic tools to identify and monitor malnutrition in young children in Mali and South Sudan; organisational capacity building to foster innovative thinking to achieve greater impact with their work in crisis contexts // IRC


Potty Project, a year-long research initiative to understand the daily sanitation realities of India’s urban slum dwellers // The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Public Engagement for Behavior Change Large-scale behavior and systemic change requires user participation and creating open knowledge platforms that can be accessed and used by all stakeholders invested in the change process. Leveraging brands, technology and media have the potential to accelerate these changes. Quicksand has created multiple platforms, ranging from mobilising public opinion on urban planning issues to creating large-scale awareness amongst youth on the topic of mental health. Other Experience The Great WASH Yatra, a large-scale public engagement campaign to promote awareness and behavioral change around sanitation and hygiene practices in India // WASH United “Trick or Treat” was an initiative exploring and illustrating the plurality of India’s informal healthcare systems // Wellcome Trust (UK) #itsoktotalk, a web platform to act as a safe space for young people in India to share their stories around mental health // PHFI

Visual narratives to inform and engage citizens in a dialogue with the civic administration on the impact of urban development projects part of Smart City Vizag // AECOM


Identifying opportunities for reimagining schoolchildren’s learning experience in emergency contexts to bolster their Social and Emotional Learning // IRC

Speculating Radical Futures


Understanding women’s unmet needs around contraceptive use experiences to inspire the far-future of contraceptive technology // FHI 360

Most efforts at improving the quality of life of the world’s rural and urban poor are centered around an immediate or near future where the focus is on altering user behaviours, shaping public policy, designing new market systems or new technological solutions. What if we were to shift the horizon a little - to a distant future, a few decades out? What new considerations does it bring into our conversation on social change today? Quicksand has used the method of design fiction to explore and critique possible futures as a way of re-orienting present day design efforts.


Designing and implementing a digital agent empowerment platform for a bank in Indonesia, providing the necessary tools to build their capacity and foster a community of practice // BTPN


Technology for Development The pace of technological change, while fundamentally disruptive, runs the risk of widening the digital gap. Technology for development requires a sensitive understanding of existing digital barriers and designing around those. This necessitates understanding a range of issues including hybrid models of offline and online engagement, role of digital literacy and often the need to conceive a mix of technological solutions varying in their sophistication. Quicksand has mediated this essential dialogue between technology providers and end-users. Other Experience Research and concept development for a mobile learning platform, focusing on continued learning and networking for underserved youth in vocational training programs // Quest Alliance

Understanding and evaluating the end-recipient experience for government to people (G2P) digital subsidy transfers in rural India // CGAP


Investigating socio-cultural trends and aesthetics in order to develop ideas reimagining the Future of Indian Bathrooms // Kohler


A trends study to identify emerging visual narratives to inspire new aesthetics for mobile devices // Samsung

Forecasting India’s Cultural and Economic Trends The social, cultural, economic and political idiosyncrasies of India have constantly upended global trends. Understanding where India goes next requires a foundational knowledge of what came before and where it is today. Global brands navigating the complex yet exciting prospects of one of the world’s fastest growing economies, need to build a vocabulary for the wide spectrum of experiences and ambitions that define India and its people. Quicksand has generated India-specific trend studies as an input into global design and innovation mandates for brands.


A series of research projects across India, China and the UK, investigating emerging usage of smart devices; the project built on global as well as local insights to inform experience design // Nokia

The Great Outdoors Of Design is a behind-the-scenes look at a range of crosscultural research projects that embody design. The conference is organised in partnership with Reach, a global network of design research firms, of which Quicksand is a member // Reach Network


Local Inspirations for Global Design

Emerging economies like India have mostly served as new markets for global brands. However, a globalising world and the advent of Internet have ushered in an era wherein cultural nuance in one part of the world can propagate as universal behaviors across the globe. These behaviors spread at a pace that has been unprecedented. In order to stay relevant, it is imperative for global brands to look at new cultures not merely as new markets, but as inspiration for a global design language. Other Experience Quicksand assisted the WorkSpace Futures, to study emerging workplace trends, technologies, and behaviours at some of India’s most innovative companies and spaces to help reimagine work experiences // Steelcase Quicksand planned and executed an in-depth field immersion in Delhi, along with the client’s research team, to better understand what users search when they come to Facebook // Facebook


Antariksha Sanchar is a speculative adventure game, a graphic album, and an audiovisual performance inspired by the vibrant cultures of South India // Quicksand GamesLab


Opening New Frontiers in Storytelling

Creating a year of connections between India and the UK, Duet is an app, a web platform and a series of public artworks about finding space for reflection, expression, and connection in our daily lives // UnBox & Invisible Flock

Storytelling is a critical part of the innovation process, often used as means to engage, inspire and educate stakeholders. Advancements in technology, especially in immersive media (AR, VR, video games, social media) have opened new frontiers in this domain - some whose potential is yet to be fully understood, while others that have created more isolation than intimacy. As a user-centered practice seeking ways to include people’s everyday reality in the innovation process, Quicksand has pushed for more authentic and meaningful applications of these emerging technologies. Other Experience Created in 2011, EyeMyth is a media arts festival, unique in its juxtaposition of Indian and global artists and progressive media. This year’s edition, themed “Future as Fiction”, celebrates new mediums of immersive storytelling // UnBox


The UnBox Labs brings together a diverse group of thinkers and doers to seed new dialogues and collaborations. The theme for its most recent edition was Connected Communities & Digital Futures // Mozilla Foundation & UnBox

Nurturing New Ideas While one end of the innovation spectrum comprises of constraints-driven, problem-solving approaches, the other end consists of an open-ended, free wheeling exploration of new ideas, thoughts and partnerships. Incubation of new ideas requires careful nurturance, allowing interdisciplinary teams to work through ambiguity and unstructured problems. Quicksand conceptualized UnBox as a platform to do just that - a space to create, ponder and explore the world around us as it is and as we think it will be. Other Experience UnBox Pop-Up in London brought together partners to discuss collaborative opportunities in India’s emerging cultural landscape // British Council, AHRC & UnBox


Exploring decentralized practices of farming, craft and tribal communities in India to bring new knowledge to the global discourse around IoT // Mozilla Foundation & UnBox


Participants create early prototypes to demonstrate frugal solution, part of an innovation capacity building workshop for the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene sector // Oxfam

Understanding the everyday realities of customers and employees at the Philippines’ largest microinsurance provider, in order to design a gamified training program that fosters customer centricity // Pioneer Microinsurance

Building Capability


Design thinking continues to expand into new and different sectors and contexts throughout the world. More and more, companies competing for their share of increasingly saturated markets know they must evolve and embrace this methodology to remain innovative and relevant. We work with organisations to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to harness the power of this approach. Other Experience Through capacity building design workshops, researching the world’s most innovative organizations, and developing training platforms, Quicksand has provided insight to demystify the human-centered approach to design for companies such as Sequoia, Total, and Steelcase.


Development Impact & You is a practical toolkit specially designed for development practitioners to trigger and support social innovation in their work, helping them invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better results // STBY & Nesta

Financial Capability Toolkit, a knowledge suite which puts forth an alternative framework that captures more realistically and comprehensively the conditions under which the rural poor make decisions pertaining to their financial health // GIZ


Codifying Knowledge The challenge of delivering and sustaining innovations lies in developing capabilities of teams and codifying best practices that can be adopted, modified and built upon at a larger scale. Emerging practices like design thinking, while offering a powerful approach to innovation, can be confusing because of varying interpretations. Quicksand’s work in developing toolkits and other knowledge products, has helped increase both the impact and scale of innovation efforts. Other Experience In-depth assessment of the existing program and the design of new materials for National Deworming Day, a campaign with a reach of over 89 million children in India // Evidence Action


Quicksand is an interdisciplinary innovation consultancy. We facilitate the creation of meaningful experiences through research and design. Our practice builds on inspiration and insights from the ‘experiential reality’ of people whether they be users, stakeholders or clients. We are investigators - exploring the marvellous complexities of human systems. We are instigators - pushing a collaborative agenda for a thoughtful design response.


So, what experience do we have?

We have worked with global corporations to envisage new business opportunities. Our work has spanned creating disruptive innovations for low income consumers with Unilever, envisioning a new beverage category for Coca-Cola and understanding how people use, store and transact information for Google.

We have worked with international development partners to drive social impact. We have worked in diverse contexts, such as re-imagining community sanitation in urban contexts for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, enhancing conflict relief work through design-led innovations for the International Rescue Committee and developing the DIY Toolkit, one of the most widely used toolkits for social innovation for Nesta and Rockefeller Foundation.

We have incubated open networks for creativity and collaboration. Our pursuit for independent expression and exploration has led to the creation of UnBox, a festival and community platform for interdisciplinary thought and action, a leading audio-visual collective called Basic Love of Things and Blindboys, a platform for new visual perspectives from the Asian continent.

Know more quicksand.co.in Email hello@quicksand.co.in Quicksand/Dispatch medium.com/@helloQS

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