Mapping a better life through design. 

A targeted approach to positioning and defining a culture of innovation helped us to put possibility at the heart of Adelaide’s bid to become World Design Capital®. While politicians and policymakers sometimes hold skewed views on innovation, there can be moments when a meaningful opportunity leans in on the public sector and they choose to pursue it.

In making a submission to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design to be World Design Capital, the Department of State Development needed help to rethink what makes Adelaide special on the global stage. World Design Capital is a global city promotion project celebrating the accomplishments of cities that have used design as a tool to reinvent themselves and improve social, cultural and economic life.

Finding direction
Our approach started with idea of ‘failure’— that as a city we’re large enough to face significant social, economic and environmental challenges, but small, nimble and smart enough to be responsive and chart possible trajectories to make positive change. The state has a strong history of innovation and a physical framework conducive to divergent thinking. We could see Adelaide being authentically positioned as a pilot city. We talked to people about failure, change and opportunity, distilling what we learned into the driving principle of Trajectory. Digging around the edges of thinking, making, prototyping and testing, we could see what Trajectory was about — A better life through design. 

As part of the working group formed by the Department of State Development, Rodeo was tasked with turning the insights defined in our positioning into a bid submission reality. Working closely as communication consultants and designers, we determined that the bid architecture needed to provide both a strategic interface and a compelling object with multiple content entry points for the jury.

To help communicate with the jury’s global design professionals, the submission needed to express itself differently and so we partnered with Christian Hall at the Jam Factory to develop the custom steel enclosure. This enabled us to develop a system to make the experience both individual and integrated; provide a Wow! response, yet also be perfectly functional; and present an object instilled with the core values, vision, personality and collaborative can-do of our bid proposition. More than anything, the framework and design of the bid provided the communication architecture to broaden the conversations between jurors in the context of Adelaide as a city and how innovation here could provide defined strategies that are globally relevant and potentially transferable.

The road less travelled
Even with strategy, teams of smart people and supportive partners locked in, it proved impossible for some government stakeholders to be brilliant at listening. This challenge wasn’t part of our brief and, in the end, the policymakers weren’t able to recognise the ambition and opportunity to globally amplify the benefits of Adelaide becoming the World Design Capital. 

True to the working principles of design, failure sets up a new opportunity rather than an end point… The World Design Capital project has shaped a new trajectory, which is currently evolving into other projects and opportunities, including an ambitious initiative exploring the possibilities for a more inclusive and dynamic system of democracy. We are very proud to be part of that journey. 


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