Oslo Living Lab is a social initiative started and run by youth from the multicultural area of Grønland in Oslo. Me and Nikolai's role in the project was to help the youth create their own work experience, acting as facilitators and co-designers.
Semester project with Nikolai Sabel, fall 2018 Course: Service design and branding Oslo School of Architecture and Design
My role: Since this was both me and Nikolai’s first full service design project, we did most of the work together, reflecting on our work as we went: Planning the youth workshops were done through discussion between us, and we both led and directed the youth during the workshops. The visual identity was a two man effort, with us passing sketches and files back and forth for iteration. Nikolai did a larger share of the physical building and crafting, while I did a larger share of the project website. In terms of the report, Nikolai did most of the writing, while I edited the layout and photography. Producing the report was our final effort, each crafting separate parts before assembly.
We are Oslo Living Lab. We find underused resources, turn it into sellable products, and provide sustainable part time employment and job training for our employees.
1. Organic waste collection from local businesses
While our main source is the neighbouring juicery and brewery, we have also worked with nearby supermarkets and cafés.
2. Indoors bokashi composting
Bokashi composting is an air sealed proces suitable for indoors production, taking 7 weeks from start to finish.
3. Liquid fertilizer byproduct
Our self made bokashi bins need to be drained during the composting process. The liquid is sold as a powerful fertilizer.
4. Compost mixed with soil
By mixing it with finished soil, the nutritional compost is broken down and made avaible for plants.
Our core offering is a complete growing kit to kickstart new urban farmers in Oslo. It consists of mixed soil and compost, seeds and instructions packed in a growing bag made from discarded grain bags from our neighbouring brewery.
Our customer experience is centered around meeting our employees at pop-up stands at events and markets. The growing kit is a complete growing package the customer can place on their kitchen bench, balcony or window shelf.
1. Pop-up stand at markets and events
2. "Grow some veggies for yo' mama / sister / ex"
3. Open: Instructions, seeds, soil and growing bag
4. Sow seeds in the growing bag
5. Water and care
7. Cook and enjoy
8. Repeat purchase
A flexible service flow accommodating youth employment
A pop-up sales model was chosen to accomodate the need of flexible working hours from both the youths and Nabolagshager. While the steps of the service flow is linear, the exact excecution of each step can be moved in time.
According to circular economy principles, one should connect waste streams and material inputs between different collaborating businesses. Mapping the different local businesses was central to finding oppurtunities for partnerships.
Early process mapping
The area of Grønland is hightly concentrated with small businesses, and the amount of potential partnerships is huge.
Oslo Living Lab partner businesses
At the end of our engagement in Oslo Living Lab, we had established relations with five neighbouring businesses.
From the start we told our employees: "We want to create this business together with you." As a result, the process and choices made underways is well understood among the youths, leading to ownership and independency.
Planning the future of Oslo Living Lab together
At the very first workshop, we let the youths plan two years ahead. This created both a shared vision and nice discussions about what needed to be done in what order.
Refined weekly plans based on vision and recent activities
The shared timeline gave us as facilitators a foundation to set up weekly plans, adjusting as we went. We purposefully kept from planning long term to be able to respond to new insights.
Neither me, Nikolai or the youths had much expertise on composting. We therefore prototyped together to share the learning process with all. When our compost went bad, we consulted nearby experts, and when it worked, we upscaled.
Over three months we ran a total of 36 workshops. Below is a selection of tools and methods we have used to engage and involve our employees.
To let the youths show off their practical and collaborative skills, we tasked them with making a hat store concept in 30 minutes.
Collective branding inspiration pinterest board
The group to collected images that resonated with them and the business. Discussing them let us pinpoint a branding direction.
Physical brand mood board
As facilitators we synthesized the pinterest board into a mood board describing our materials, textures, typography and colors.
Service personality playlist
How do you engage 17 year olds in discussing brand personality? You let them pick the music of our hypothetical store of course!
Group sketching and ideation
It was important to get their input at the start of every process. For our logo, everyone sketched 20 ideas each in 20 minutes.
Group feedback and validation
After refining their preferred ideas, we always presented our work back to them to validate if it reflected the groups thoughts.
Feedback from external experts
It was central to remain humble, and bring in external experts to consult us as a group. Minsk helped us with branding.
Personal unifrom workshop
Everyone got to design their own uniform, consisting of a thrifted black piece of clothing freely decorated with our graphics.
A central delivery of the project was to develop a transferable method for co-creating circular businesses. We have called our proposal the "creative spark model".
Facilitation, ideation and validation
The model describes the realtionship between facilitators/designers and the co-creating group. The facilitators job is to help the group ideate and structure their thoughts, before refining their ideas and presenting the work back to the group. When the group is stuck in the process, external expertise is brought in for consultation and guidance.
Oslo Living Lab structured in the creative spark plug model
Our proposed model is based on the 36 workshops we held together with the youths between September and December 2018. We planned workshops, let the youths ideate, refined their ideas and validated the our work with them, and cosulted experts.
To further develop the creative sprak plug, we have integrated the existing framework of the double diamond model, simplifying it to "Exploring and Deciding", and applying it as a color overlay.
Simplifying the double diamond model
Simplifying the model of the British Design Council, we color code the steps according to the exploration and decision phases.
Color coding according to double diamond
We now can now see at what level the creative phases operates, with shades indicating iterations.
By color coding the process, and then removing the text labels, we can see that most of the decision making (yellow) has been taken at the higher level of the group. This is something we consider fundamental to the creative spark plug model. Secondly, we can see that the process is narrowing over time. In short, the group is learning and becoming more and more self sufficient.
Oslo Living Lab is a part of the EU research project Edible City Network, aiming to develop cases of co-creation in the circular economy. To communicate our project and proposed model, we designed a branded kit for distribution.
Report, co-creation handbook and photo impressions.
Several physical copies are going into the research project, and we hope to inspire others to adopt a bottom-up and co-creative approach to green employment.
The final delivery of the project was a website Nabolagshager can use to promote the project to politicians, stakeholders and researchers outside of Oslo.
If you would like to read our full report, please visit oslolivinglab.no to download it.
Would you like to see how Oslo Living Lab has progressed after our involvement? Visit their Instagram to see what they are up to!