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A semi-serious conversation about W/L Balance

Authors: Fabio Carnevale Maffè - 734200 Virginia Hechtel - 733338


How everything began... The best way to approach an issue is not always just to sit down at a table and begin to discuss. Especially when you have to talk about work/life balance. But it might be very different if starting with a semi-seriuos conversation in front of a very Milanese habit: an ‘aperitivo’. Since the beginning it was very clear that we had similar but somehow also divergent ideas and visions discussing about w/l balance, maybe due to the fact that we focused on different key elements during our four months long experience. So after having spoken over and over, we decided to structure our work as a sort of real conversation, facing some aspects separately and joining others in a common dialogue. This document is composed by three separate sections each introduced by a short description about the referential topic. The first section tells from a very critical point of view about our opportunity to experience working in different groups. The second one is about our general opinion on w/l balance and the way how we started to approach the issue from the very beginning. While the third and last part is a ‘four-hands-written thrust and counter-thrust’ discussion about our entire work divided in three subparts, one for each workshop we took part at. Every subpart then starts introducing the common workshop’s brief, followed by a description of the designing process and the problems faced by the one who carried out the project, and a more critic judgement of the buddy both on the project in general and on its outcomes and finally a reply of the project’s developer about his work including possible implementation to his project.

PSSD: the mixture generates unique teamwork dynamics Final Synthesis Design Studio has given us a great opportunity to experience working in different groups, often with people we just had a very little talk before and coming from the most varied parts of all the world. Actually this chance revealed itself very challenging as it was an enriching and important but also not always easy experience. Although if we both have finally appreciated this opportunity and the choice of forming groups randomly, different were the aspects that mostly impressed us. Fabio: “PSSD gave me the meaningful opportunity to enrich my formation through the comparison with a lot of different mentalities and backgrounds from all over the world. But the daily work on design projects where you have to face backgrounds so mixed and often so far away from your, sincerely is not easy at all especially if the develop of the project is compressed in just a few intense days. For me working with people with the same backgrounds is usually easier and faster and that is probably why in our classes we often see students that want or just prefer to work with people of the same nationality or coming from the same university. Since the beginning I agreed to force us to form the working-groups by chance. The result can sometimes be unexpected and with some mates it can also be really difficult to share opinions on the same project but for our educational formation and above all for our culture I think that it was really important to not miss this opportunity of strong and intense comparison. From my own experience I can say that in many cases this mixture has given value to the project thanks to a constructive comparison, various formations and different skills. But, especially during the brainstorming phase, the communication has to be fast, direct and meaningful in order to enrich the idea

‘ un dy n i qu e am ics ‘

without any destructive position which might only generate useless misunderstandings. Exactly at this point has emerged a lot how much my background is really part of an European mentality and that it is more easy to be understood and accepted also from nationalities that as Europe have in common an ancient culture. A lot of times working with people from Asia I really realized how much we have been culturally far away for centuries and so also the mutual comprehension was not so easy. Sometimes trying to find a compromise between really distant and divergent positions just brought to weakened the concept. So it was smarter to choose a whole idea and to follow it, trying to divide the work in autonomous sections and giving the priority to some general directions that were previously agreed together. This experience of working in different groups let me see how working with different mentalities and cultures could really generate unique dynamics inside the team, obliging us sometimes to go for directions that even if not always shared were the more appropriate for the context in which we were working and more feasible in terms of time. Virginia: “Well sincerely when I heard that for the first time we had to work in group which were chosen randomly I was more like a bit scared. But after all I also have to admit that it was a good way to give us the opportunity to work with students we had never worked with before and therefore to learn better how to approach people we don’t know and to really ‘live’ and learn from their different way of working. But before talking about my general experience working in groups, I have to point out that due to the different outputs requested in each workshop (mainly a service, a product or a space design) also working in teams diverged a lot. For example in the first workshop on ‘working interactions’ we mainly developed a service so the competence we mostly needed and used was in the communication field (graphic and movie) with the threat that someone got overwhelmed with work

while others didn’t even have the chance to be helpful. On the contrary in the third and last workshop on ‘working places’ we had to develop a real and complete PSSD with many elements to take care of and therefore it was important first of all to clearly define and divide the tasks and that the group’s members owned all the different skills that the project necessarily required. Although if some projects may not really need many skills, I think that a good team should be formed by members who have different capabilities and competencies which by the way can also give you the opportunity to confront yourself with new and different ‘styles’. The main problem in projects where you have to control many different elements and where various skills are needed it’s that, like in a chain if somebody or something gets stuck all the process risks to break off. So when working in groups, especially for workshops where time is one of the most incident variables, it becomes really important for me to have somebody able to lead the team and to organise the work in order not to lose precious time and above all the crucial point. This experience has also confirmed me that a big issue is the one related to the ‘timing’. An intense work, of sometimes even less than a week, that oblige you to a full immersion requires that all the group’s

a nd r e d a e l 1 ‘ k i ll s ‘ s t n e r e f if d

member work in the most efficient way since the very beginning. But obviously we don’t have all the same habits and rhythms. In the past I used to be intimidated by the fact that unlike most of all other students, I usually don’t work at night unless there is a real need. But getting used to have more and more workshops I realized that it was better to figure out my ‘timing’ issue instead of accusing, getting stressed and consequently less efficient. Now almost everybody knows that I rather wake up at 5.00 am in the morning and finish for dinner, rather then starting late in the morning and staying all night long working. Of course this approach makes working all together sometimes difficult, but this experience let me definitely understand that it is better to listen to yourself letting other people really know you if you want to collaborate and to succeed in what you are carrying out.”

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W/L Balance: When there is no objectivity the different personalities emerge In four months of research on a very wide and complex topic like the work/life balance we had the opportunity to analyze it both from a personal and a shared point of view and to exchange ideas and experiences with people from different backgrounds. Initially we began our reflections by conducting a research together, but the way we approached the issue and the paths we therefore took, finally brought us to conclusions that are not opposite but quite divergent focused on distinct aspects due to our different personalities. Fabio: “During these months my observations concerned more the way people really live their work-time and especially how it is reflected on free time and on ‘happy moments’ as well. I have noticed how dignity, enthusiasm and sense of pride for your job are essential to live at your best both work- and life-time. The two main variables that link and unify all my observations and conclusions are the involvement and the capability of controlling the work-time. The time spent at work or in some activities related to it is usually the major part of the day and pretending a reasonable relation between work and life means first of all to have a balance in your own profession. Since the very beginning I have focused and centered my research directly on the users, starting from the observation in the streets and in Bovisa neighbourhood and this approach has immediately given me a huge range of case studies. I found amazing how many different jobs, life-styles and mentalities you can discover just walking around in the streets and prying into the courtyards. Bovisa is really a hybrid area where tradition and innovation coexist one beside the other, sometimes mixed but often just apparently

ignoring each other and it can give a very variegated sample of whole Milan. So as I already said my analysis started directly from the observation on-field, comparing people and doing some interviews to get even better their approaches, their moods and what they wanted to reveal. This way I have noticed how much the involvement in your own job covers a huge importance on the complex relation between work and life. The extreme case of Ambrogio, a Triennale Bovisa steward, is the most emblematic as he lives working hours just like a huge frustration, he is totally alienated and he even arrives to lose the sense of his activity. He is not involved at all in his job and even if he has an exact control on his work-time because he has fixed working hours and then he could be totally free, this huge frustration that he lives at work affects also his spare time. He get used to a total lack of enthusiasm and he has difficulties to find it again also beyond his work. In another case I found exactly the opposite problem. People with too much involvement can easily get obsessed like Federico, an artist who paints with the crew of ‘The Bag Art Factory’, who puts himself and all his energy in his activity but who finally arrives at some points when he really needs a total break to escape from his work-passion, to not get oppressed and too much obsessed.

‘ t h e re i s ro n g ! ‘ w g n i h t e so m

In this case for instance he could organise better his work-timetable because in the end, mainly due to his total involvement, he gets easily lost in his work and he’s not always able to manage it. This is a topic that I think really concern us personally because as students we are soon going to face the work’s world and during our research I got more involved with some people’s profiles than with others. From my own experience I had to reflect a lot about how much the involvement in your activity can make you lose and I believe that it has always to be kept at a certain and sustainable level. For example even if I could have a lot of power on controlling and organizing my work-time, often my involvement on projects enables me to give the right weight and time to each activity to the detriment of the time that I would like to keep and spend for a total break. For sure this analysis has helped me to realize even more how much w/l balance is a complex topic that we will have to face all life long. Obviously beyond these two main variables on which I have focused, you should also consider some other more subjective elements. For instance elements as a strong hobby or the condition of having to support a family should be taken in consideration as well, because they can influence a lot the perception of work- and life-time. But I also think that in the end all these secondary elements reflect their influences on the two main variables. So to conclude I think that in order to have a w/l balance a worker should have the right involvement still being able to keep the capability of controlling his work-time.” Virginia: “As I am a more reflective and rational person than Fabio and my way of approaching a new and complex issue is to first of all make my own thoughts questioning myself and doubting some key assumptions, instead of immediately immerging myself in an observation on field, analyzing people to discover interesting findings I started just reflecting upon the concept of ‘work/life balance’. And exactly talking about w/l balance I actually think that the problem is

already in the term of ‘work/life balance’, because this definition should imply that work and life are seen as separated things and moments. But if we have a closer look we easily understand that as Fabio already mentioned most of the people work at least around eight hours a day, which means about one-third of their daily life, work really becomes part of the life and not something that can be easily detached. So in order to find a sort of balance I think that the main point is to love your own job, to be happy and satisfied while doing it, because otherwise no balance could ever be found and reached. Obviously I know that it seams easy and even banal to assert to love your job, but to be more precise I mean that your work should be both stimulating and challenging but still not overwhelming. In my vision to find a w/l balance it becomes therefore crucial to integrate or at least to dedicate even just a small part of the day to some little but relaxing daily activities (e.g. having a hot bath, singing while driving,...) able to recharge, reload or completely reset when you feel your getting stuck. Anyway I have to point out that I don’t feel and believe that real ‘happy moments’ should necessary take place each and every single day but more as passions and strong hobbies (e.g. cooking, travel,...) that can be transformed in real special events, awaited occasions able to gratify and reward like a sort of prize.

For me to love your job still having different personal interest apart from it in order to release yourself and even to take inspiration could really be a good and effective recipe to find a balance. Then after having conducted my initial research going down in the streets and studying the Bovisa’s surroundings, instead of focusing on some people in particular I preferred to spot out some trends which I found crucial for this issue. And so referring to the trends we spotted out, the one that I found most relevant is what we called ‘Ad-Hoc Pastime’. But what is it all about? Well observing how nowadays we are more and more overfilled by suggestions and new proposals on how to spend our free time, to find a balance we finally tend to reject ordinary, uncustomized and ‘everybody satisfying’ things. In a world full of entertainment we don’t want mass entertainment for everybody, we ask for pastimes that are thought ad hoc responding to our personal and specific needs. And finally considering all the personas I developed with different groups during this whole experience and not just in the initial research moment and now looking at them from a w/l balance perspective I found really meaningful one I figured out in my first workshop more than those we met and analyzed in the first part of research. To define this persona we decided to use the Chinese concept of the ‘shè de’ which means to give and to take. But actually this ‘shè de’ is not a person in particular, but is more an attitude, it is someone who takes from others in order to give and vice versa. And I think that this is exactly the point. To find a balance we should learn to take care of ourselves by listening to us, we should give us the opportunity to change, to evolve sometimes, but also to let us take a step backwards when needed, to fail in order to grow, to try even to be different and not to be too stuck with the idea we or other people have of ourselves. We as well as life are in a continuously changing process and till we are not able to accept it we will never find a balance.”

From November till now...what happened? Workshop 1: ‘Working Interactions’ For the 1st workshop we were asked to focus our research learnings and design activities around the behaviors and interactions that define hybrid situations of work/life balance in the specific environment of the Politecnico Bovisa Campus. In more specific detail we were required to design for an improved and richer experience in context. The design challenges should be focused on either improving some efficiency tools (e.g. room booking, vending machines logistics, faculty-students communication,...) or on the creation of some specific digital product/service application to fill a gap encountered in the previous research phase. Virginia: “For this first workshop with my group we actually decided to work on the creation of a digital product/service application to fill an existing gap we encountered and to answer to a need we already figured out previously and so we designed a new community based on trust for sharing. is the project I definitely loved the most, probably just because of its real clarity and easiness. The concept came out since the very first day and was developed in two days of brainstorming and guerrila prototyping inside the campus. As all of the group members liked the project, the ideas about what we wanted to develop were pretty clear and everybody was strongly convinced that it would have easily worked. Therefore it became also simple for us to get to an agreement whenever we had to take some directions. Initially we started working all together in order to test our project before taking any decision that could later reveal itself as superficial or unsuitable. To really give a clear idea about what was the concept we decided to make a more conceptual movie which sincerely speaking slowed down our work because till the last day we were not sure if it was actually able to transfer what we wanted to communicate. Finally when we had to put down all the contents

graphically due to similar skills and abilities among the members of our team just a couple of people got overwhelmed with work while the others could not be very helpful. Anyway we even succeeded to complete the work one day before delivery. Although if we could have used that advance to develop the project more in details it seamed already to be complete, we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. For the day of presentation we decided to let just one person speak because we wanted to be quick but precise and to focus on the main points, but later we noticed and learned that as we all worked together at the project it could have been better to involve everybody in telling and explaining our work.� Fabio: “I also appreciated the simplicity of this project and I have to say that I have really enjoyed the prototyping you have done in those days involving with your enthusiasm a lot of users. can have a great value from a w/l balance point of view, as it answers directly to real user’s needs and it generates a sense of community that is a real need in our pretty anonymous campus. But on the other side I think also that it is not already feasible at all. It could work inside smaller community of students as our class for instance, but if you think about this service applied on a bigger community as the whole campus I see a lot of difficulties

on working on the confidence of the users. This could maybe be another way to structure the project by first of all working on the confidence and on the identity of smaller groups that in the end could add value to the community of the whole campus. Virginia: “Well I actually think that share. it is a very strong concept that could be developed already in a very close future, anyway as you pointed out the crucial challenge to make it effectively work is first of all to create a sense of mutual trust and to help the creation of a stronger community because otherwise few user would like to be part of it. But then for me the main point is to enlarge user’s accessibility because now the project is very technology and internet based which implies the exclusion of a very large target that might really be interested in this service. And finally a very profitable future implement could of course be a collaboration with other more well-known and already working virtual social networks as e.g. Facebook obviously.” Fabio: “As you already said the brief for this workshop was really clear and so it was also not difficult to figure out BOVISITA. From the beginning with my group we decided first of all to define the stakeholders and the main goal to achieve: we wanted to build a service that could

make the link between Design Students and local artisans stronger and able to re-evaluate the area both from a business but also from a touristic point of view. So we chose D.O.C. (Dergamo Officina Creativa) as partner and their collaboration in the prototyping part was also useful to get suggestions on how the system could really work in the specific area of Bovisa. We took every decision in a reasonable and fast time with the involvement of every single member of the group because we were all strongly convinced about the general concept and the principal goal of our service. We have done a good job on the organization of the service trying to keep the concept direct, simple and easy but then in the end we lost to go really in the details on the final artifacts. Actually I have to admit that in the last days we paid too much attention on superfluous details of the service instead of focusing a bit more on the artifacts and on the touch points. For sure in this last part we could have succeeded more if we had divided the work in the last days, but due to our too similar skills and due to our underestimation on the artifacts importance, we finally worked always all together.” Virginia: “For me BOVISITA might definitely be very meaningful not just to increase but also to really form the student’s knowledge of the manufacturing and creative processes. Furthermore this project could enhance the w/l balance by connecting students to the real world and providing a tangible opportunity to realize true projects in collaboration with the unique know-how of local artisans. On the other hand the artisans themselves working with students and young talents could earn profit by getting updated and inspired while gaining more visibility. For sure this concept could bring new business and give a stronger and more visible identity to the neighborhood. But I regret to say that I’m not so sure that students might really

want to participate to improve their w/l balance as they usually have just few spare time and are often already overwhelmed with things to do. And thinking about tourists as they usually have just a short stay in foreign cities and often want to see all the possible they can afford, they should probably really be interested in art/design to decide to take part to this kind of experience instead of preferring a more classic and conventional sightseeing that maybe don’t allow them to actually ‘live’ the city but that can give a general and more satisfactory overview.” Fabio: “Well I have to admit that after having prototyped with D.O.C. as partner I have perceived even better the wide potentiality of BOVISITA. Actually D.O.C. was already thinking to have visibility in the tourist field but, due to a lack of organization, this operation came to be very problematic, so a collaboration with the most prestigious Italian Design Schools and the Municipal Tourism Office, which could guarantee some kind of coordination, might be one right solution. Furthermore I strongly believe that to reward Politecnico Bovisa which is placed in the suburbs and to make it really more attractive and efficient, the next step consists in the development of a real district by the creation of strong links with the related area of Bovisa where, thinking about

Design, we even find exactely all the right stakeholders. It is also true that talking about students they might already be overwhelmed with things to do, probably just because they usually try to do some little simple jobs, apart from their main studying activity, to get some extra money. But the kid of turism like BOVISITA is usually able to bring a lot of incomes and actually as Design students are the most appropriate and perfect guides for the visitors, this project if well organized could also let them gain profit by sharing some of the earning. And I am pretty sure that for Bovisa’s students to gain money by doing something more related to their interests might really be the interesting point also regarding to their w/l balance.�

Workshop 2: Working Artifacts As everyday experiences are often given for granted for the 2nd workshop we were asked to challenge the mundane, to step back, to zoom in and to look things with new eyes. By applying our design thinking skills to identify innovation opportunities, our objective this time was to understand different actors, environments, artifacts and interactions, to identify and focus on one category and finally to design an innovative PSS for the selected target. Virginia: ”To look at things with new eyes to identify innovation opportunities with my team we decided to approach the project by applying a different method from the one I previously adopted for the first workshop. For this second workshop we conducted first of all an ‘observation on the spot’ within the campus. In fact after one day of observation some crucial findings came out: the existence of private little ‘home sweet home’ areas in hidden places, the domestic use of lockers, the informal occupation of public space and the under visibility of messages posted on billboards due to location and organization. But instead of selecting and focusing on one finding in particular we decided to join them all together in a single project and so after a short session of brainstorming C3 as a new concept of integration of both containing (general personal stuff and additional useful tools) and communicating (self-expression and getting in contact with other people’s interests and needs) functions raised up. I really appreciated how quickly we actually took all the decisions and due to the fact that among the group each member owned totally different skills it was also easy for us to clearly divide the tasks. This division helped us a lot as our ‘timing’ and speed of working diverged pretty much and could have caused real problems if not managed so early in the proper way. Evaluating the capabilities we had within the team and as 60% of the final evaluation of this workshop was about the artifacts while just

40% about the services, we decided not to focus on the production of a high level movie but rather to do a physical model of one part of the product to better show the interaction of the object with the user and the environment. At the delivery day, apart from one member who was missing, we decided that each of us should explain the issue on what he had worked the most in order to let everybody talk and take part to the presentation of our project.” Fabio: “I have appreciated your project mainly from a w/l balance point of view, you have really focused your attention on the whole time that a student passes inside the campus, you have find out some true weak points and you have solved them in a really functional way. And as I know the approach and the way of working of the mates you had in that group I can really see their ‘functional-project’ mentality in C3. I have just some doubts on the payment part as it is very difficult to persuade students to pay for a service that now is for free but this could easily be solved by involving some sponsors and I also see some difficulties on the weight of the management part. Finally I have to say that I cannot really imagine C3 inside Politecnico as I see it a little too futuristic, but it could be a good project to be presented to provoke a bit who manage these kind of decisions inside the campus to help students to get more what they really need and would like to have.” Virginia: “Well I have to agree with you as I also see this project as a too futuristic but both from a functional and from an aesthetic point of view. And the interest in companies wishing in investing in it is not really so feasible and sure. But as C3 could on the other hand as you already said really solve several problems figured out in our observations, maybe it could just need to be simplified to be more applicable in a closer future. But just wondering about a more distant tomorrow it might be interesting to think about a possible

standardization of all locker systems in the universities, lockers might be bought or become a sort of souvenir, billboards could turn into digital screens with a software managing the organizational part and why not the locker stations might even be placed in public places not necessary related to academic institutions.� Fabio: “For this second workshop we also started as you did with a more observational method. We have started our analysis in a very singular way as we have asked students to show us what there was inside their daily bags. It was really amazing to notice how many sincere and useful informations you can get in this way. So this has been an analysis on the real needs of Bovisa’s students. And from the conversations started in front of all these unexpected objects we spotted out we got a lot of stimulating points to start and develop our concept. After one day of brainstorming and reflections one hand on the lacks of identity of our buildings and on the other hand on the difficulty of communicating to external people our real way of working as designers, we finally chose to work on the second issue. And in this case the choice of working on PoliEgo was really simple first of all because the solutions we had in mind to solve the

spotted issue were very linear and simple, and also because the given brief was very clear and asked a product as final output. We were all really motivated and enthusiastic as we felt all involved with this issue about our difficulties of communicating to other people what we really do all the time that we spend inside the campus. So after having collected mind-mappings, sketches, post it and all those materials that usually just become garbage, we transformed them in objects and fashion accessories that could show off both our way of working and also our identity. The problem of the textile technology was easily solved with a readymade solution that can be easily and quickly replied on a larger scale. By giving always the priority to the simplicity of one solution instead of another, we could rapidly define every single detail till the end. And due to the fact that among the group there were people with different skills, attitudes and competencies we could easily divide the workload and really succeeding in our project.” Virginia: “In the past it occurred also to me to work with paper, so I have to admit that I really liked your project. I really appreciated the fact that you actually decided to recycle and use contents of a work written on paper that students necessarily have to do and which would otherwise just be thrown away. And by reusing these materials which are a self-expression of each single student you don’t just give value to the working process, which is not just a minor and partial activity but the crucial path to arrive to the final point, you also keep memories and create a sense of pride while providing a community symbol at the same time. Moreover from a w/l balance point of view this action could really make you feel more satisfied and rewarded in what your are doing each and single day, but without making the work even more heavy and frustrating. And besides these aspects let us have a look at Politecnico’s Polishop and at its banal and unspecialised products. For me PoliEgo could really provide to Politecnico new incomes through products that

could refresh the university’s dusted image while also promoting the uniqueness of its faculties. The only danger I see is just regarding the final products and not the entire project. From an ‘eco-friendly’ point of view I’m not so sure about combining paper and plastic and although if the patterns are not only very nice but really cool, I’m not so sure I would buy more than one piece as (un)fortunately the style of all final products is very unique and particular but also very ‘similar-looking’ among each other.” Fabio: “I think that PoliEgo is really a strong idea, effective and low cost that could be easily presented through a series made from recycled paper materials like sketches and mindmaps. During this workshop we got really involved with the project, we made and sew some prototypes of very good and high quality. I have already presented PoliEgo to a couple of interested journalists from ‘Atelier del Riciclo’ who own a place for exhibitions as I really believe that a project like this could be easily presented during some events, like first of all even ‘FuoriSalone’. If Politecnico had the real wish to renovate its dusty image and its product’s offer in Polishop, it could also gain good money out of PoliEgo. Unfortunately now I am leaving for Shanghai but as I think that good ideas never die,

maybe I will just going to keep on working on this project when I come back or maybe I will just export it there.. who knows?!�

Workshop 3: Working places AR


via D







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F ani

andi via C

For the 3rd and last workshop we were asked first of all to identify a certain ‘happy moment’, a part of people’s work/life balance to work on. Then each group had to choose a brand to work with by defining its values and vision directions and after that to develop a PSSD brief for the selected company. The project finally should have be a ‘place of the brand’ located in Politecnico Bovisa Campus using the already existing ‘tower’ as a fixed space. Virginia: “This time it was not very easy for me and my team to quickly agree on the topic, the ‘happy moment’ on which we wanted to work. So after a couple of days of brainstorming and the generation of lots of not very strong ideas and still unable to take any decision, the easiest and maybe only way to go on was to vote. While all the group wanted to focus on the time whenever people feel to need a rest to reset because they get stucked in their daily life different was the direction each member wanted to take. Unfortunately for the two boys who both wanted to work on extreme sport activities all the three girls chose to work on water as the main element. Sincerely looking now with a more critical point of view probably to select one direction instead of joining the different two together has brought us to the development of a not very innovative project. Anyway following the choice of the majority, the group tried to work on a new concept of SPA (‘salus per aquam’). But then we had to face the problem of choosing the most suitable brand for the project. We were undecided between a ‘drinking water’ company and a company operating in hydrotherapy or in something totally out of target. Finally we selected Avène as brand to define the PSSD brief with the related final goals of stressing the core values and the communication of the brand, to extend the brand in new operating areas and to entry in the ‘drinking water’ field. This is how TOUR D’EAU Avène, a project to provide mental and physical break through water for people attending Politecnico Bovisa Campus, came to life.


Actually we were supposed to develop the PSSD brief the first day of the workshop, but as you can imagine we came out with it just by the third day and as the final output required many elements to take in consideration time risked really not to be enough. Further as one of the days I also got ill, the best way to manage the situation was to divide the works so that we could work also separately. This decision finally brought me to totally skip to work on the design of the space and to focus on the presentation and communication of the project. We knew what we wanted to provide to the users but we didn’t know how. So I have to admit that the rendering process slowered down as the team didn’t really figured out the shapes of the space till almost the end. Unluckily having lost so much time in discussing, confronting each other and just trying over and over we finally finished our work just half an hour before delivery. But this time nobody was missing on the day of presentation and we balanced well the way how we exposed our project. Probably the only way to learn is really to train.”

stairs go up

stairs go up




shower toilette

pay with key get key


reception elevator

gym pool lockers

temprature control system

stairs go down


ice wall

hot siting place

stairs go down



ice wall

stop rain system


Fabio: “TOUR D’EAU Avène from a w/l balance point of view is a project born from the real need to have something that can provide a total break from the working activity and I have really appreciated both the organization of the space and the communication style. It is simple and clean, and it is exactly appropriate for the concept of a SPA based on the purity of water. I found the project well defined and well communicated but from my point of view as you also pointed out as a weakness I cannot see a very innovative concept. That is the main problem, it seems to me just a nice SPA. Beyond that I think that it is not very student-oriented, I can better imagine business people than students in this kind of place. In this case I can fairly see in the output the difficulties of the process and the compromises described by you. However although if it is not an innovative or a very brave concept for me it was a nice project to be seen and I am sorry for repeating me but really well

communicated. Virginia: “For me as well TOUR D’EAU Avène could really give a tangible possibility to provide a totally new and w/l balancing service because as you also stated the project raised up as a real answer to detected needs. And I have also to admit that the real problem of this project is the fact that it is not really Politecnico Bovisa and students related, so to be more applicable to the context in which we were asked to work, it should be less a simply SPA experience but more an innovative water therapy service. Anyway in future it could be interesting to think about designing new modules with different functions and properties which might also be placed in crowed office areas as a sort of small and more affordable relaxing structures and thinking even bigger the service, in a more exclusive form, could be provided and supervisioned by specialised staff as a substructure of the already existing STATION THERMALE Avène. Fabio: “Well I easily understand that in this last workshop it was not very easy for you to work so good and structured as before. Actually I felt that in the whole classroom there was a sort of general ‘workshop’s tiredness’ mood. Probably just because it was the third workshop in three months and also because each of us was a little

distract by thoughts and activities for the next future, like portfolios, internships or even displacements for some of us who are soon moving to China. In fact also our process to arrive to ChocolEAT for some reasons accused of such an atmosphere and like yours it was not so linear and clear as before. First of all we got stucked because since the very beginning the brand we chose to work with and the PSSD brief we defined by ourselves were in the professor’s opinion in contrast. Later this fact came to generate not few doubts and problems inside the group that, by the way, we finally have not even solved very well as we also found difficulties in dividing the huge and complex work we had to do. To design a whole space is really a wider project than to design just a single product and it usually needs and involves more and different skills and competencies. This experience let me learn that from the beginning in order to better defend our project from any kind of critic, we should have divided our work in autonomous sections each under the responsibility of one member of the group. I think that only in that way we could have defined and supported better the project and above all the organization and the design of our space. Virginia: “Listening to you it seams as if your project was a total failure. Actually I think that for sure ChocolEat is a very innovative concept for the Italian brand Perugina and it could really not just promote its product but also extend the brand by letting the company approach a totally new, and still coherent, field as Perugina has never entered in the retail segment. Well, despite of the fact that the target of users for this project is pretty closed because they have to like chocolate or at least sweets, I have to admit that I do not see any real answer to improve people’s w/l balance inside Politecnico Bovisa Campus. And furthermore, as we were asked to choose a precise ‘happy

moment’, I also do not see any focus on a particular occasion, actually it could be related to any time of the day when somebody gets hungry or just wants to relax. From this point of view ChocolEat could be for everybody as well as for anybody. Although if I liked very much the distinction within the different personas according to the time they have to spend, I found your three proposed solutions (vending machines, self-service and lab/ showroom) very detached one from the other and not clearly able to provide a real 360° experience. Finally just a personal opinion: I really liked the idea of the interaction of the stairs with the users by putting the ‘lost calories’ on the steps, but I am afraid it is not really reliable.” Fabio: “I agree on the fact that ChocolEAT probably is not the right solution to provide a w/l balance to users inside Politecnico Bovisa Campus, but I think that the customization of food, related to the healthy and the quality is really the new border. ChocolEat is really a new way of selling food with the direct involvement of the user who can really interact by choosing his favorite ingredients and by learning before consuming. Nowadays the trend is to put the kitchen or the food-lab directly in the window to make a sort of ‘show’ in front of the customer and to communicate healthy and quality without hiding the process, but where is the interaction with the consumer? The client is just a passive user who only becomes hungry while observing the artisan. “The show of making of” is the concept that Arch. Silvestrin has well shown with Princi bakery some years ago, but from my point of view this idea is already old, people are getting that it is just a ‘show’, it is fake. And speaking only about chocolate, even in ‘Cioccolati Italiani’, the last choco-bar just launched and opened in Milan (where important design names has collaborated and which is now succeeding among many consumers) glitzy workshops are in the window, but the client

is just a passive spectator, he neither makes nor learns anything at all. I believe that the next step in this field is the interaction through the customization of the product and for Perugina to think about a chocolate-bar that goes in this direction could really be the right innovation.�

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Perugina provides new PSS to Politecnico users


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A semi-serious conversation about Work / Life Balance

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