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Featured Ideator: Carmen Escaño

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Carmen Escaño is a Spanish-born design researcher working in Singapore. She's especially interested with the intersection of emotions and design in the pursuit of creating more meaningful experiences for users. In her daily work she seeks to empathise with people to try and understand the deep motivations which drive their behaviour. She loves to travel, discover different cultures and is wildly passionate about food – both cooking and eating. Recently she stepped up to be the local volunteer co-ordinator of the OpenIDEO Singapore Meetup.
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
I happened to stumbled on OpenIDEO when I was browsing the IDEO website. I remember I was super excited because I have finally found the means to be part of socially responsible projects and participate with huge team of people from different disciplines and cultures. The platform was tackling projects that I really care about and the guided process through the phases makes it easy to get involved.
And how's the ride been so far?
I’ve got the chance to collaborate on OpenIDEO more recently – and it was great to be part of the Connecting Communities Challenge which was focused on Singapore so I had a understanding of the local framework, opportunities and constraints. I really like getting feedback from fellow OpenIDEO collaborators from around the world. This way of collaboration can only enrich the ideas and make them more feasible. As a designer I believe that open discussion with different experts and passionate people is the greatest way to find the best solution.
Can you tell us a bit about the OpenIDEO Meetups you're co-ordinating in Singapore?
On top of the online collaboration, I am also organising local OpenIDEO Meetups in Singapore. I'm really happy to be part of this early experiment with OpenIDEO Team, where we try to improve the collaboration through offline meetups and face-to-face interaction. Here in Singapore, we have an awesome local team – full of really enthusiastic members that are eager to collaborate and be part of social projects. I enjoy encouraging social interaction and it's great to make OpenIDEO collaboration more tangible. There are other co-ordinators from other cities, and under the great leadership of OpenIDEO's Nathan Maton, we keep ourselves updated on what's happening elsewhere and share tools and tips about how to run the meetups.
And how has the OpenIDEO Singapore Meetup gone so far?
Our first meetup was mind-blowing! We gathered 25 enthusiastic people to brainstorm in one place at The HUB in Singapore. It was great to see everyone working together even if they had got to know only half an hour before! Since then, the group has got smaller, leading to more familiar round-table discussion. We always have newcomers and also friends of friends that heard about the meetups and want to join in. I love how everyone generously shares their own expertise and experiences. Our meetup crew has consisted of people of different backgrounds – from students to educators and professionals from assorted disciplines – all sharing a common interest: innovating for social good and a human-centred approach.
Have you got ideas on pursuing local social impact with the OpenIDEO Singapore Meetup group going forward?
The current Healthy Ageing Challenge focuses on a big issue for Singapore. With one of the lowest birth rates in the world, it's facing an incremental ageing population. There are a lot of initiatives to improve the elderly quality of life, so we can seize the opportunity to participate in these initiatives and gather feedback from experts and also talk directly with those concerned. We are also starting to think about how we might create a pilot test and prototype one of the ideas: Integrate Elderly Day Care Centres With Children Care Centres – posted by Singaporean, Yap Jia Qing. We would like to get back to the OpenIDEO platform once we have done our research so we can also get feedback from the online community – and who knows, maybe we will inspire others to implement the idea locally! That’s the beauty of global collaboration.
Cheers Carmen. We hope to enjoy more of your collaborative action real soon! And folks can check out more on our OpenIDEO Meetups experiment and how to get involved.
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