Updated: Mar 23
Doing research in academia is about finding new questions and test hypotheses to create solutions to answer the challenges afflicting the society.
There is no special profit or interest behind this process, but only the true passion to ideate, provide evidence to support the creation of new solutions and envision new theories and practices.
However, along this process, the output of years of research often takes the shape of a scientific publication, a book, or a patent.
During my life as a researcher and creator, I noticed that it is important to share the academic content produced with a scientific language (sometimes even with some jargon), with a new communication style that is appealing to the wider community.
Other than posting the advances of the research on the social media and updating my website (a long, slow, never-ending process), I found a new way of talking about the work I do to many people with a simple, powerful instrument: the podcast.
Podcasts are an effective way for people to listen to different information while doing some activity and for podcast creators to communicate to a large audience with a conversation style between the host (the person that normally runs the podcast) and the guest (the person invited to talk about a topic) new information.
During the episodes different guests talk about their products, experiments, and experiences and after a short chat with Sabrina, I got on board for recording my first podcast!
We decided a few questions before starting and then we gave it a shot. It was smooth, easy and most importantly, it was fun (particularly for my strong Italian accent).
We started by talking about my background, how I got into architecture, design and research and then we jumped into the real conversation.
“Before jumping into the meaty stuff, is it possible to design spaces to meet everyone's needs?”
This was a challenging question, but I was prepared, and I shared some insights on how we could design for many different people, without hiding the fact that is challenging.
This is considered a wicked problem, but one point I highlighted was to switch the narrative from accessibility to inclusion, diversity and equity, and the bringing to the table the concept of decolonizing architecture and design.
“So why people don’t demand for inclusive and accessible buildings?”
Well, this might have led me into an extremely long answer, but in short, the studies I’ve done in the past two years at the University of Cambridge proved that more than 7 out of 10 building industry professionals think that clients and building owners don’t perceive the value of Inclusive Design.
But I found also that the scarcity of client’s awareness of Inclusive Design was positively correlated with the lack of perceived value of Inclusive Design.
As a result of this biased perception the scarcity of client’s awareness becomes the dominant driver of insufficiency of clients' requests.
“How can we make sure we design spaces and products that are really inclusive and consider all aspects of human beings?”
Another tough question from Sabrina, but with a short answer, with the research I carried out I developed a tool to improve the design process - The Inclusive Design Canvas - and a tool to understand the perception people have about inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility - The IDEA Audit.
“And what about the future?”
As you could imagine, the interesting part of the conversation came at the end, when we talked about the future. Well, I think the whole design of inclusive environments and products will heavily influence the design of virtual environments and some recent research I carried out exactly explains this new concept.
What is a take out from this experience?
I got to like so much recording a podcast that I couldn’t wait for the next, and I shortly got invited to record two more in the following weeks.