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.

Awarded prize for strategic use of design by Livework and PwC Consulting at the AHO Works Awards
Semester project with Nikolai Sabel, Fall 2018
Course: Service design and branding
Oslo School of Architecture and Design

The youth eomployees of Oslo Living Lab

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.

Employee cllecting organic waste from juicery container
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.

Employees composting in trash bins using bokashi method
2. Indoors bokashi composting

Bokashi composting is an air sealed proces suitable for indoors production, taking 7 weeks from start to finish.

Employee draining byproduct liquid from the bokashi bins using a bottom tap
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.

Finished bokashi kompost in bins
4. Compost mixed with soil

By mixing it with finished soil, the nutritional compost is broken down and made avaible for plants.

Growing kit packed in bag made from discarded grain bags from brewing
End product: Growing kit

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.

Youth employees selling growing kits at an event
1. Pop-up stand at markets and events
Close-up of hand touching growing kits on display
2. "Grow some veggies for yo' mama / sister / ex"
Customer opening growing kit at home, inspecting kompost, seeds and instructions
3. Open: Instructions, seeds, soil and growing bag
Customer sowing the seeds in the compost in the bag
4. Sow seeds in the growing bag
Customer watering plant growing from growing kit bag
5. Water and care
Customer picking ripe tomatoes from the growing kit
6. Harvest
Customer cooking a meal with the tomatoes harvested from the growing kit
7. Cook and enjoy
The customer placing several more growing kits on their kitchen bench
8. Repeat purchase
A map of the service outlining the internal and front facing processes and touch points.
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.

A map of the local neighbourhood, highlighting potential business partners and areas of interest.
Early process mapping

The area of Grønland is hightly concentrated with small businesses, and the amount of potential partnerships is huge.

A map of the local neighboorhood, showing the actual business partners, Råjuice juicery, Siste Sang brewery, Rema 1000 supermarket and Easy minimarket
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.

Youth employees planning 2 years of Oslo Living Lab at the very first workshop
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 plan based on employee ideas and recent activities
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.

Youth employees making the very first prototypes of a bokashi bin system Several small bokashi prototypes next to a commercially made bokashi bin First batch of bokashi compost marked by date and name Employee draining biproduct juice from a bokashi bin prototype
Employee and facilitator building larger iterations of the bokashi bins Employee composting in a large bokashi bin Employee draining biproduct bokashi juice from a large bokashi bin Facilitator setting up a tracking system on a whiteboard with employees
Prototyping and upscaling together

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.

Youths working together during the interview workshop
Interview workshop

To let the youths show off their practical and collaborative skills, we tasked them with making a hat store concept in 30 minutes.

A pinterest board made by the youth employees to discuss branding
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.

A physical mood board built by the facilitators
Physical brand mood board

As facilitators we synthesized the pinterest board into a mood board describing our materials, textures, typography and colors.

Spotify playlist of songs describing Oslo Living Lab
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!

Youth employees sketching 20 logo ideas each in 20 minutes
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 discussing refined work done by facilitators
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.

Expert graphic designers giving the group feedback on their branding.
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.

Youth designing her own uniform.
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".

An overview of the creative spark plug model, explaining how the facilitators plan workshops, hold them with the group, refine the groups ideas, and presents the refinement to the group for validation.
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.

First part of process timeline, divided into three levels; group facilitators and experts. Second part of process timeline, divided into three levels; group facilitators and experts.
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.

A simplified model of the double diamond model, visualised as open up during exploration and narrowing during deciding.
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.

The creative spark plug model color coded according to the simplified double diamond model.
Color coding according to double diamond

We now can now see at what level the creative phases operates, with shades indicating iterations.

The full process timeline of Oslo Living Lab The full process timeline of Oslo Living Lab color coded according to the simplified double diamond model. The full process timeline of Oslo Living Lab, but with only the color codes and no text labels, highlighting how the creative process has played out through the different levels.
Visualizing learning

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.

The report, handbook and photo held in a laser cut cardboard cover with grain bag pouches. The Oslo Living Lab report, bound with upcycled strips. The co-creation handbook, bound with upcycled strips. A set of photos printed on photo paper, giving visuall impressions of the workshops.
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.

Screenshot of the oslolivinglab.no website
Web strategy

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.