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Sometimes You Find What You're Not Looking For

Pre-Design Research Discoveries

So I was reading an article about the new Acropolis Museum project in Athens (yes, get over it, I am Greek) and learned that during pre-construction excavation something amazing happened. An entire ancient city was discovered right where the bulldozers and diggers were ready to rumble.

"Oh no!" you might say, as many did. Most believed the project would be canceled or at best postponed many years due to the discovery. But, the famed architect Bernard Tschumi (neither have I) found inspiration!

Instead of wallowing in the unforeseen discovery, he embraced it. He cleverly designed the museum around and on top of it, highlighting the ancient and hailing its marvel and influence on the modern. And now it's becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
What the heck does this have to do with design research? Well, I’m glad you asked. Many times, brand managers are presented the opportunity to do independent pre-design research. It is the one tool that good design firms have at their disposal that goes mostly unused. Many of the reasons not to pursue pre-design research, that I have heard, stem from a fear that it may contradict the very hard work that led to the green-lighting of a project in the first place. The homework has already been done. Why run the risk upfront when it can be done on the back end and corrected at that point?

It’s a tough sell, but I believe making choices out of fear will get you nowhere. If the lesson of the Acropolis Museum teaches us anything, it is that in the unknown there is great potential, and in discovering the potential early, one has the ability to adapt quicker, create smarter and perhaps more successfully due to the fact that you aren't "fixing problems" but creating solutions with information from the beginning.

So embrace research, or maybe just give it a friendly little hug at first. Bravely prepare yourself to look at the data as a treasure map instead of a road block, and you’ll find gold.

Read more about the new Acropolis Museum in Athens