Studio Report April 19

precious is entering a new era. In the beginning it was just Christophe and me. We often joined forces with Philipp from Berlin, then welcomed our first intern, David, who is still with us today. These were the early years.

The second era started when Michael became a partner and we moved to a new space. The team grew up to 10 people. But at the end of 2016 we faced a difficult situation.¹ We let go half of the team. Also Michael left the company. The rest of us continued to work exclusively for enfore. That was the beginning of the third era, our glue² period.

And now we’ve gone one step further. The team working on enfore will be a separate company led by Christophe.³ I will pursue new challenges with precious. This is the year of the Phoenix, the fourth era of the precious saga. I’m curious to find out what the universe throws at us.

Public Service Lab

A scene from our Design Studio workshop at the Public Service Lab Conference 2019
Participants of our workshop at the Public Service Lab in Düsseldorf eagerly sketching interfaces. Photo by Martin Jordan.

One of the opportunities that popped up was an invitation to the Public Service Lab Conference in Düsseldorf. Public Service Lab is an initiative to introduce government employees to user-centered processes and help administrations with the digital transformation. Martin, an old friend of precious and one of the passionate organizers of this event, asked us to do a workshop. Or maybe it was the other way around. When I met Martin for coffee a few month ago, I told him we would love to be involved somehow, because I think it’s a very interesting field for designers these days. Not just because it can be very meaningful work which impacts a lot of people. But also because design is still in its infancy in these organisations.

So I did something I haven’t done for a while: a workshop on the Design Studio Method. Studio mate Matze accepted my plea for support, so at some early morning in April, we took a train to Düsseldorf.

When I saw the topics of the other workshops I was a little worried that ours was a little too hands-on or too specific. I thought that just a handful would show up at most. But it turned out that our workshop peaked the interest of quite a few people. The room was packed with public servants, most of which didn’t have any experience with design methods, let alone something like Design Studio. And even more surprising: they were really good at it! After a very short introduction we tried the method with a fictional project. Because of the fast pacing, first timers are often flabbergasted when it’s time to start sketching. It often happens that some people don’t get anything on paper in the first iteration. Not there. Everybody was sketching as if they do it all the time. All of them filled up most of the boxes on their worksheet within 3 minutes! Unfortunately, the time slot for the workshop was just 50 minutes, but I hope that the power of sketching and “design doing” came across.

The atmosphere of the whole event was very enthusiastic and optimistic, more than I thought it would be. The attendees really wanted to change how their administration work. The stories they told to make better public services – often involving a mixture of patience, persistence, diplomacy, a little audacity and small hacks – were inspiring.

One thing I’ve learned was pretty depressing, though: Even if you manage to create a job for an in-house designer or developer (which is difficult enough), the applicant must have a proper formal education to be considered. Which means that Christophe and I – each with 20 years of experience in designing digital products and services – wouldn’t have a chance to get a job in an administration. And I know of many more seasoned designers or developers – people with skills that administrations desperately need – who would not qualify. That’s kind of sad.

Zero Waste Kitchen

Impressions from the book presentation "Zero Waste Küche" with Sophia Hoffmann.

We haven’t opened our doors to the public for quite some time, so we all were pretty excited to host an evening with vegan chef/cookbook author/activist Sophia Hoffmann. More so, because the event was sold out and the crowd was very different from our usual guests.
Sophia presented her new book “Zero Waste Küche”, serving delicious finger food based on her recipes and reading a few chapters from the book. Matze moderated the whole thing and interviewed Sophia, as if this was something he does all the time. A great evening. Reminder to ourselves: a) Do more events b) Go beyond your own community.


Even if we are starting to look for other jobs beyond enfore, precious is still involved in various enfore projects. Maja worked – among other things – on the manual of a new hardware product. She also supported me with creating new content for the enfore website. We added a lot of pages describing and illustrating how enforePOS helps retail and service businesses in their daily routine. A pretty laborious task, because hundreds of screens and images had to be adapted. But it was long overdue, so it’s good to see it finally online.

  1. I tried to explain this “difficult situation”, but it’s too complex and would leave out a lot of aspects if I would sum it up ina few sentences. Maybe someday I’ll write a whole post about it, but for now let’s just say that we found ourselves in a dilemma.
  1. “Glue” is the name of the main enfore brand color. A greyish blue.
  1. Called “small is beautiful”, it currently consists of Christophe, David, Tanja and Aki (both of which joined recently). Maja, Svenja and I remain with precious. Maja and Svenja, however, will both start sabbaticals soon, which leaves just me for the time being. We are all still working together in the same space.
  1. Of course administrations can work with external contractors, where this doesn’t matter – and that’s what most of them do anyway. But in the long run, administrations have to establish internal teams to deliver great digital services.