RKS and CSULB Design Students Tackle the California Water Crisis

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RKS, the design and innovation firm, invited CSULB design students to a workshop at their office to learn how to utilize RKS’ proprietary design methodology Psycho-Aesthetics to tackle the California water crisis.

“We wanted to take them out of their comfort zone” explains RKS strategist Marcelo Nicolau, “by offering a complex problem that would challenge them to use human-centered design as a way to promote a local positive impact.”

One of the most basic human needs is slowly disappearing. For the last four years, California has suffered a severe drought depleting snow packs, rivers, and lakes and groundwater to make up the shortfall. This past week RKS invited 18 CSULB industrial design students to their Predictable Magic design methodology workshop for the third year in a row, to learn new ways to frame and attempt to solve the water crisis in California.

With Governor Brown’s declaration of a State Emergency, the task of changing the way Americans think about water is not only relevant but urgent. Working towards the idea of designing behavior altering solutions, the workshop led students through RKS’ proprietary design methodology Psycho-Aesthetics. The student collaborated in small teams led by RKS designers and strategists to develop practical solutions to conserve water.

“We wanted to take them out of their comfort zone” explains RKS strategist Marcelo Nicolau, “by offering a complex problem that would challenge them to use human-centered design as a way to promote a local positive impact.”

In four intense hours, each team examined existing problems surrounding water usage and insecurity, developing key personas and brainstorming solutions. Once narrowed down and linked to key attractors, the students presented their ideas in an elevator pitch. The four innovation solutions spanned systems to products to apps to smart technology. One group created A.V.C. (Aqua Vein Containment), a farming irrigation system comprised of underground tubing shaped like veins. Another created Watermark, a behavior conditioning rewards systems that give incentives to communities or cities based on their contribution to conservation. The solution Droplet, was an educational app for children and parents to increase education on water sustainability. The most impressive solution was WaterWise, smart technology that tracks water consumption in a household and sends reports via an app. Attached to showers or sinks, WaterWise would have the ability to track water usage and send warnings based on preset limits as well as create personalized water preferences.

“It was impressive to see the students approach such a difficult challenge, each using the same tools and methodologies but their own unique perspectives” commented Harnish Jani, Director of Research and Strategy. “I’m proud that they were able to create such a wide variety of solutions from watering systems and conservation products to leveraging smart technology.”

The students are in their third year at CSULB in the industrial design program. As a part of their design methodologies course curriculum, the students utilize what they learned at the workshop in their final semester project.

About RKS- RKS is an innovation and design consulting firm delivering human-focused solutions with global impact. Founded in 1980, RKS utilizes design as a strategic tool advancing client’s ability to focus on people’s needs and aspirations while creating sustainable business results and benefits to society. Working domestically and globally and having won over 150 major design awards, RKS credits Maslow and Campbell’s work as the foundation for its systematic and pragmatic set of frameworks, setting the stage for the creation of experiences that motivate and reward audiences. Read more at http://www.rksdesign.com

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Amalia Sawhney
RKS
8053701200
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Jani HARNISH
RKS
8053701200
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