Event RecapBack
Seminar -- “Design Thinking for Green Innovation”

The Jockey Club CarbonCare Open Innovation Lab (JC COIL) programme enters phase 2 from 2017, targeting to incubate more Inno teams with high aspiration to tackle climate change through green projects. This incubation programme, spanning eight months per cycle, provides intensive coaching to guide participants through a process from ‘Conception’ to ‘Realization’ of their green projects. Participants can jam their ideas with the others during CarbonCare InnoFest, build their dream team at the Bootcamp, receive coaching from professionals on Lean Startup techniques, test their product with a trial grant and pitch for a kick-start fund at the end of the programme.

Apart from passion and energy, good skills are also needed to promote environmental projects. For the first event of CarbonCare InnoFest, we have invited Mr Match Chen, co-founder of the local design team KaCaMa, to share the company’s experience in innovate and sustainable design based on the concept of “Design Thinking”.

The “Design Thinking for Green Innovation” seminar was held on January 21 at The Wave. ‘Design Thinking’, a people-oriented approach to the way of thinking, is often used to inspire creativity. During the seminar, Match shared with us KaCaMa’s very special experience in product design, exhibitions and community engagement.

The first principle of ‘Design Thinking’ is “learn from people”, i.e. understanding people’s needs. The KaCaMa team discovered that most museums in Hong Kong delivered one-way messages to their audience without any interactive elements, making it difficult to boost young people’s interest in traditional culture. To resolve this, they used 3D-printing technology to turn terracotta soldiers into chess pieces for the audience to play a chess game, thus creating an interesting and fun exhibition experience for the public. KaCaMa thinks inspiration comes from daily life and suggested us to observe people’s needs from different perspectives and think from all angles in order to identify specific patterns of people’s behaviour. For instance, ‘sustainability’ has always been KaCaMa’s design principle and its products are made from environmental friendly materials. Whereas a drop of curry sauce on our clothes might distress many of us,  it is an inspiration to KaCaMa to research on colour dyes derived from food waste, or transform food waste into art.

KaCaMa often collaborates with different organizations. When making Eggy Candles, they went to the bakeries to crack eggs and collect egg shells. They have collaborated with St. James Settlement to produce Eggy Candles, to create job opportunities for people with disabilities. Sai Ying Pun in the Western District of Hong Kong Island is well-known for its steep terrain, which makes it difficult for local community members to hang around. To encourage good use of public space,  KaCaMa tailor-designed special wooden stools called the “Ramper Stools” for Sai Ying Pun residents to take a rest or have a chat on the ramps. The materials of making those stools came direct from the same neighborhood and the company even gave D.I.Y. instructions to the residents on how to make those stools.

In a rapidly developing city like Hong Kong, we can’t do everything by the book. Besides designing products, KaCaMa also organizes various events, such as upcycling workshops and bicycle flea markets. Through constant transformation, KaCaMa has developed diversified projects and whether it is a product or a service, the company places great importance on users’ experience.  KaCaMa believes that making their products specific, tangible and participatory are all important elements of ‘Design Thinking’. In this way, even when upcycled or other green products are not widely-accepted in Hong Kong at the moment due to their high price, KaCaMa can still change the public’s perception of sustainability through various interesting and popular events. The company believes that when people’s perception is changed, sustainable products will gradually pick up their market share. KaCaMa also hopes that its events will inspire more social innovations.

The seminar demonstrated how the different elements of ‘Design Thinking’ could help participants design and improve their green innovative projects. During group discussion, our participants from different background and with different environmental or social concerns shared among themselves what green projects they were doing or had in mind, and discussed the relevance of KaCaMa’s experience to their projects as well as how they could apply those little tips they have learned from ‘Design Thinking’.