I am most inspired when I get out of the studio into the real world and observe the everyday interplay between people, spaces and objects.

This is when I put myself in other people’s shoes to find out what they see and do, and how they think and feel.

I gain valuable insights into people and situations, and this allows me to empathise with people’s experiences. It is this empathy that enables me to design something better or different, something that is genuinely useful, usable and desirable.

I am particularly taken by the humanity that permeates David Hockney’s portraits, in which the poses, objects and settings reveal not only the subtleties about the relationship between the subjects, but also between the subjects and the artist himself.

Playwright and author Alan Bennett, particularly his humorous and sensitive accounts of ordinary people and their experiences, is another source of inspiration. His work is at once entertaining and heart-rending.

I believe that the key ingredient in both Hockney and Bennett’s work is their compassion, and this is what makes their work so influential. The lesson for me is how powerful that could be when it comes to design.

Anna White, Ideo

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