In The Room: IDEO Executive Design Director Roshi Givechi On Judging As Choreography

Before any statuettes are handed out or speeches made, the Clio Awards is made in the judging room. This is why we strive each and every year to bring together a diverse room full of fresh, creative voices from all over the world. In order to bring you closer to the experience as we get closer to the 2017 Clios, we asked our jury chairs and members to give us their thoughts on trends, issues, and debates that are rippling through the industry in 2017 and sparking debate in the jury room.

I remember this one morning I was walking to work in Shanghai, and I made a promise to myself that – for once – I wouldn’t stop to photograph inspirational things along the way. I would keep on walking to arrive at work when planned, and resist temptation to incessantly record my “externship” year in Asia. But then I came upon this man in a small park. He was dancing… alone. His little red radio was tied to a tree, playing the waltz. He would glide smoothly from one side to the other, as if he were dancing with a partner. It was mesmerizing. He was in his element. And so was I. I finally surrendered and stopped to capture this inspiring moment in pictures.

Since grad school, I’ve been fascinated by choreography and how it can actually apply to other contexts besides dance itself. Designing complex products or services is like choreography, as one example. It requires a holistic view of a system, one that considers how many different parts have to come together and hold a potential to transform over time. From the way we individually observe things in the world to get inspired, to the process of collectively extracting insights as we make early versions of our ideas come to life—it’s all quite interconnected. It’s amazing how trust in the process always gets us somewhere good, even if we take different improvisational steps to get there...

I went into these rounds of judging for the Clio Jury Product Design Awards with a sense of curiosity about how we, the jury, would collectively interpret the products that were submitted. When we watch a performance, we are seeing the culmination of all of the choreography that was envisioned, planned and put into practice ahead of the show itself, leaving only the experience for us to interpret in our own way. Seeing finished products in this competition (and in the real world) might feel the same. There’s always more than meets the eye, and we’ll never know all that happened behind the scenes. Of course as jurors, we can only evaluate the products for how they stand as they are… Yet as a designer, I bring that sense of appreciation for all the hard work it takes to get to that finished point. The reality is that design that takes a more holistic approach—well-choreographed design—stands a greater chance of serving people well. One can only hope that whatever is made resonates with people on an emotional level too, much like a performance can.