Creating Connection with Designed Experiences
Ashley Shaffer is a surfer, burrito enthusiast and a Design Researcher and Strategist at the global design firm, IDEO. Designing experiences and messaging that creates a human connection with the brand is one of her specialties. Affecting change in many fields such as healthcare, financial services, hospitality, food & beverage, and social impact, Ashley combines consumer behavior, emotion, culture and inspiration to influence all facets of the end product. Target, NBC television, MassMutual, New Balance, Jack Daniel’s and the truth (R) campaign all bear her influence.
Noelle Fredland, Marketing Director at the Old Mill District recently connected with Ashley to explore her adventures in design, inspiration, innovations and spirit vegetables. Here is a glimpse…
Noelle: Was there a pivotal moment or decision that led you into your current career?
Ashley: My current path was not even one I was aware of early in my career. It took me a few years of working in other roles to spot what I thought was my dream job – you never know until you’re in it, but I found mine. What got me here was a mix of intense focus on building the skills I needed to get here, and a lot of kindness and mentorship throughout.
Noelle: Tell us a story about a transformative project that you have worked on with IDEO?
Ashley: Our clients come to us with some of their biggest, trickiest challenges and I’ve worked on some pretty amazing projects over the last 5 years. A transformative project that sticks out to me was one I worked on a couple of years ago for people living with mental illness. During our research, I got to sit next to them on their couches, in their homes, and talk to them about what it was like to live in their world. We talk about empathy a lot at IDEO, designing for this population to me felt like empathy in the extreme. They were desperate to find a better way.
Noelle: Where do you find inspiration?
Ashley: Oh man, I just tried to articulate this in an IDEO blog post – finding inspiration in the real-world. Before I worked at IDEO, I thought inspiration gathering happened on the internet or maybe in books. Something I really value is analogous inspiration finding — going out into any place, including your own city, and visiting people and places who are doing something you can learn from. I keep a lengthy list of inspiring places in every city I’ve been to – would be happy to share if anyone’s looking.
Noelle: What are your favorite questions to ask others?
Ashley: What’s your spirit vegetable ?
This one takes whoever I’m interviewing out of the interview seat and gets them to smile.
Noelle: What trends or innovations do you think will change the world in our lifetimes?
Ashley: VR is what everyone in my office is doing / playing with / dreaming about at the moment. I think the sharing economy will continue to disrupt our ways of operating even more than it already has. I think decentralized learning is what’s surprising me most now. It seems that our models of education continue to change almost on a yearly basis.
*Ashley will be speaking at the 2016 BND DSGN CON