26 April 2017

Shaun Borstrock and Jessica Helfand initiated the cutting-edge collaborative project: Creative Design—Leads Business.

The project was set to explore perceptions of luxury brands through an understanding and interpretation of luxury as an all-encompassing experience. The approach is one that leads by design, to inform the processes that underpin creative decisions, to create an aspirational shopping environment that challenges current conventions associated with Prada and luxury brands.

As part of the project, a workshop was held simultaneously at Yale School of Management and UH School of Creative Arts, where students designed a three-dimensional environment to explore the customer experience in a proposed new Prada store. Subsequently, UH undergraduate students worked collaboratively with Yale MBA students and Milan Polytechnic MA students for the Prada Student Workshop: Design, Business, and the Future of the Prada Retail Experience. In the Milan workshop, organised within the context of the Prada Conference; Shaping a Creative Future, a Conversation on Sustainability and Innovation, students from Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom worked on the question Can Design-Led Proposals Lead to Coherent Retail Strategies?

The challenge of this project was in the first instance to devise a design proposal, and then deliver a solution that informed the approach to business to create a coherent retail strategy. In the one-day workshop, students were asked to consider the Prada brand against competing luxury brands; look at the circular economy and ask themselves how they correspond to existing technologies. Perhaps most critically, students thought about the customer’s role as a core participant in a technologically-enhanced retail experience.

Working in mixed teams of business and design students led by Professor Mark Bloomfield, Dr Shaun Borstrock, Dr Silvio Carta and Nick Lovegrove from the School of Creative Arts, Professor Jessica Helfand from Yale School of Management, Dr Chiara Colombi and Elena Caratti from Politecnico di Milano, the teams reversed the typical process in which a designer visualizes a business strategy. In the workshop, the model was reversed, beginning with a vision—blue sky, utopian, technologically ambitious and progressive—from which a business strategy then emerged.

The outcomes of the workshop were filmed and presented at the Prada Headquarters in Milan at the Prada Shaping Creative Futures conference to distinguished guests including the Chairman of Prada Group and industry leaders including Andrea Illy – President, illycaffè , Andrea Morante – President, Sergio Rossi and Anna Zegna – President, Fondazione Zegna and international press.