Pierre Baudry, Marc-Antoine Franc and Cécile Bernardet are respectively founding partner, partner and project director at Okoni, an new kind of Innovation Agency, which involves co-making innovation with their customers.
First Cécile and Marc-Antoine guided me at Okoni premises, then Pierre took his pen to explain how their holistic approach is quite singular, and impactful on the business of their customers.
1) Okoni baseline highlights Creativity and Transformation (“Créer et Se Transformer”) : does it reflect your 2 main line of services ? Can you share a few examples of assignments illustrating these 2 lines? How do these 2 lines complement each other?
Nowadays, corporate transformations are driven by organization and strategy. We believe that there is no transformation without creation. You have to change your products, your know-how, your skills to change your company. Therefore innovation is the key driver.
We supported the transformation of a national top ranked insurance company. We helped them find innovation projects that could be conducted right now as samples of the future. It could be put that way “how about experimenting the future today?”.
Even our pure design projects can be considered as transformative. It’s because we care as much about the results as the process to get there. So when we design a trash can, we ask ourselves: “Who do we engage? What tools are we going to use in order to include all the players in the design process? How can they learn inspiration?” So no transformation without creation, and no creation without transformation.
2) Okoni manifesto introduces the ‘Consultant-Maker’: could you explain the concept, and where it comes from (“creation is transformation, innovation is learning and changing”)? Is it the same person who develops both skills, or an association of people under the same roof? Does it unfold an hybrid approach mixing consulting and design with making as well? Why is it key to connect the vision with the execution?
First of all since Platon, we’ve disconnected vision and execution. First you need an idea then you shape it. We believe that vision and execution have to be thought altogether at the same time and by the same people. When you give life to an idea, using either physical material and lines of code, you keep creating because you confront it to reality and this confrontation is a tremendous source of creation.
That’s why we put under the same roof designers, prototypers, consultants, architects, sociologists, even a cooking chef! Each of them has a strong chore of skills but we all think execution and vision simultaneously. In our place Le Ma, one the same day some people are fabricating a table, others developing app, and others again are facilitation a brainstorming or putting into figures a new business model. In France no other companies have gone that far in the hybridation of skills and equipment.
3) Could you describe your place the Ma, the biggest integrated FabLab in France, and what resources and facilities can be leveraged there (“6 studios”)?
Le Ma is our place therefore it is hybrid. There are high tech prototyping machines, all materials you would dream off to make mock ups, a highly equiped kitchen, a big empty space to welcome all the projects and people from all the world. It is an unfinished and open place because hospitality is a key value for Okoni. You can show up any time we will open our table for lunch for you, show you how the laser cutter works. It also a totally self-made space. It our flagship for our architecture signature!
4) How do you combine these resources in a project, and especially the user centric design & nudge / ecosystem / making dimensions, and at which steps of the project?
It is very fluid and comfortable actually. Our execution capabilities are so broad and high that we can turn all our ideas into something real: digital, electronics, mechanics, space design, drawing, 3D modeling, printing.
When we start investigating on the field, we need an oversized map to work with people, it’s done in 24h! We want to turn Le Ma into a new generation hotel room in order to foster new ideas, it’s possible in less that a week. You think of a small robot in your hotel room. It can be put together in a couple of weeks!
And our heart and our place are so big that our design is very inclusive. Turning a value chain into an ecosystem is a key expertise of Okoni and it is done community management, communication and creation and making! Put suppliers and client in a fablab and you’ll see that their relationship will change radically.
5) What are the good reasons to come to Okoni for an innovation / transformation project? In what type of project is Okoni approach the most relevant?
Okoni approach is relevant for all projects. Some prerequisites though: the brief has to be open. You want to play for real, go beyond the concept and have a real impact on reality. You are open to change in your organization. You want to have fun, and joy even at work is compulsory, well your’re pretty much ready to be okonized.
6) What is your vision of the future of Okoni?
Being the world top leader in design and consulting because both words will become synonimous.
A smaller ambition would be boring!