Emphatic understands he doesn’t understand
And I’m not only talking about the users; we need to understand our own team and other project stakeholders. To know their goals and points of view will help you understand aspects of your subject that your own knowledge doesn’t yet cover and thus, enable you to better help them and steer their efforts towards a common target. This is particularly true on fields where we design products or services for culturally engaged users. Our R&D project for Parkour Dash –series is a great example of this in action and has given a variety of interesting and challenging tasks for us to conquer throughout the process.
To create a successful product for a culturally engaged audience, we need to understand them and their culture thoroughly. We need to do our research; find and curate information from the culture in question and transform it into sensible and naturally applicable concept the users feel comfortable using and being associated with from the get-go.
Dash Parkour is a product series that is born and molded by Parkour as a culture. We researched parkour for weeks and held workshops with parkour professionals and parkour actives, generally known and referred also here as ‘Traceurs’, to further understand the culture we were designing our product for. As we got further inside it’s habits and values, we realized how vast and deep their inner respect for the sport and each others was, and how important it was for us to show in our products how much we valued the sport and its actives. This is why the respect towards traceurs’ and parkour itself is unspokenly visible through our products’ visual nature and references to visually interesting and culturally important parkour elements. These elements won’t necessarily give our less oriented users more than a visually interesting theming, but for traceurs there are references that hopefully give a solid cultural reverence. Getting the approval and respect of our core users is critical, and it won’t be possible if they don’t feel like the product is theirs or it isn’t designed in line with values and habits of parkour.
Shaping the future of Parkour
When designing a product series for a sport as physically demanding and creative as Parkour, usability is everything. This is especially true when you want to make the best parkour product in the world. To accomplish this, we need to understand, calculate and test every last centimeter of gaps, heights, widths and lengths to find the perfect fit between challenging, intuitive and safe. This product series will give an intuitive environment for both new users and professionals and everything between. The skill level spectrum is incredibly wide, as are the personal, creative styles we need to accommodate.
The shapes and visual nature of the products need to be distinctive. There are hundreds of parkour boxes in the world that can’t be visually distinguished from one another and ours wouldn’t be one of them. Searching and bringing forms and shapes from the streets in to the design gave us a great platform to create a unified, yet prosperous way of creating a great variety of different layouts and combinations, without designing hundreds of differing components.
Know your audience
Traceurs don’t see the world like everybody else. From their perspective, walls, floors and rails are not just passive structures to help our normal lives; they are interactive, changing series of forms creating various ways of practicing their favorite sport. The tilted shapes in our products back up this image and accompany traceurs’ way of viewing their surroundings from different perspectives. Tilted shapes also work great with parkour as a sport, giving it unconventional angles and approaches that simply can’t be duplicated with traditional box shapes.
Welding all this into the designed shape nature of our products couldn’t have been done without our parkour experts. Fine tuning every shape and distance took a great effort from our designers and parkour professionals and its value couldn’t be more important. The end result speaks for itself: simple and humble, yet elegant in every detail.