Interview with Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes, founder and CEO at AKKA Architects

by Fleming. Team

Together with Stephanie, we dived into a unique architectural philosophy called Architecting Interaction, which is the core part of AKKA Architects’ work. What are the four phases of their famous AKKA process? And what should companies focus on to improve employee well-being and productivity? Let’s find out in our special pre-event interview.;

 

1. You are the creator of the unique architectural philosophy called Architecting Interaction, and this is also the topic that you will be speaking about at this year’s #SWDS. Can you tell us more about this philosophy and your topic?

The way business is being done nowadays is not working; it needs to be done differently. Businesses and organizations need to innovate. But how can we help businesses and organizations innovate? Architecting Interaction is a philosophy that believes that the seeds of innovations are interactions. Therefore, we help businesses and organizations innovate through interactions by creating or designing their workspace in order to foster the right interactions to help them innovate. In a short sentence: we help them innovate though their workspace. Our idea in AKKA is that the workspace of businesses and organizations is an asset. It is an asset not in terms of real estate, but in terms of being a strategic tool, just like human resources and other departments. My topic at SWDS will go deeper into our philosophy and I will also talk about the three roles a workspace should play: the context, the communicator and the enabler.

2.To achieve the right interaction in an environment, you use your own process – the AKKA process – which consists of four phases. What are these phases and what should be the final output of this process?

The process of creating contexts that can foster user interactions cannot be done without the involvement of the users themselves. This is why the AKKA process is an intrinsically collaborative process based on the communal creation of knowledge. It consist of three phases which take place before the context is delivered:

Appreciating: dedicated to creating an aligned understanding of the project. It involves all people concerned in the project: users, clients, visitors, neighbors and professionals. In this phase, we as facilitators help them translate their opinions into insights.
Kernelling: This phase is dedicated to the co- creation of the project’s shared vision by and with the project’s community.
Kick-starting: This phase is where the bulk of the creative process happens through “learning by doing.” It is through this that a refined context can be created that truly supports the specific community it is serving.

And the last phase, which takes place after people have started using the product or service or space created:

Adapting: This fourth phase is what we call the living phase of the project. In this phase, it is by observing how people use their space that we can refine it and make final adjustments to create a space that triggers the right interactions.

The aim for this entire process is to extract collective insights of the projects’ users. This is because we believe that users are the experts in how they use a space.

3. One of the projects that you worked on was Impact Hub, one of the most famous co-working spaces. What was the mission of this project and how did you manage to complete this mission?

The mission of the project was about supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small companies to create a positive impact through their businesses.
The fact that they share a workspace is a great opportunity to create added value through interacting with each other.

Our mission for this project was not only to create a functional, beautiful and inspiring space, but more importantly to create the type of space that can support all the different dynamics and interactions that these people needed in order to innovate on a daily basis.

We completed this mission by following our process and creating this innovation hub where businesses and organizations are collaborating and growing through their daily interactions.

4. The impact of workspace design is strong. What should companies focus on to improve employee well-being, productivity and teamwork?

Before we can explore the workplace, we need to understand what the future of work is, how we will work in the future, which dynamics will be engaged in and indeed what kinds of workplaces can support these dynamics.

Our team dedicated to exploring the future of work has been studying the dynamics of innovation at work. We have identified that innovation is driven by three forms of interaction: collaboration, creativity and learning. It’s at the intersection of these forms of interaction that innovation can emerge.

We also believe that the quality of a workplace is defined by the quality of interactions it supports. Our role as architects is not only to deliver an inspiring functional and beautiful space but also to ensure that the interactions happening in that space are valuable, fruitful and create positive impact.

At AKKA, we are specialized in designing spaces that not only foster interactions that lead to innovation but that also support well-being at three levels: physical, psychological and social.

 

5. Dutch architecture features some nice specialties. If you could describe it in three words, what would they be?

Most of the time, Dutch architecture is based on an ecosystem of design instead of an “egosystem” of individuals.

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Interview with Stephanie Akkaoui Hughes, founder and CEO at AKKA Architects

Published 00 Month 2019

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I mentioned that “sexy” is subjective, which it definitely is. That being said, there are certain elements that are pretty common among popular posts. They’ll improve the visual look of your blog posts, and also make your content more enjoyable and intriguing.

 

HEADLINE TYPE 4 BOLD

You may have seen this piece of advice before, but it can’t be said enough. When it comes to writing for the web, long paragraphs don’t cut it. They’re difficult to follow and can look kind of intimidating to readers at first glance. Which one of these would you be more inclined to read?

 

GET VISUAL

You don’t have to make custom graphics for every blog post you write. And like I said, there are some people who are completely indifferent to graphics, and don’t find them necessary in order for content to be sexy to them. But even the most dry and boring audience will appreciate some type of visual element within the content. Whether it be in the form of a chart, graph, infographic, etc. We are visual creatures, and images stimulate us.

 

MAKE YOUR AUDIENCE THINK

Believe it or not, blog posts don’t have to be a 100% one way form of communication. Some of the best content out there has a conversational tone and flow to it. It’s something I incorporate into my content. You can make your blog posts into more of a conversation by posing questions throughout the article. Questions force the reader to think. Throughout this blog post, I’ve been asking you questions that make you think. When you do this, your blog posts go from you doing all of the talking to more of an exchange of ideas.

 

FOCUS ON THEM

A common mistake that seems to happen with a lot of small businesses in particular, is not focusing content on your audience. Your blog shouldn’t be about you, it should be about the reader. The truth is that readers don’t really care about you. I don’t mean that in a harsh way. Your personality and character play a role in the success of your content marketing, but most people are coming to your blog for information and to get something out of it for themselves.

In the beginning of this article when you looked at the most popular content in your industry, you probably didn’t see too many self-serving or “company news” blog posts getting shared much, did you? That’s because people don’t care about that stuff since it doesn’t affect them. Make sure that your content places your target reader as the main focus, and serves their needs.

Put yourself in their shoes for a second, do you think they’re more attracted to someone that just talks about themselves, or someone that’s interesting in learning more about them and addresses their needs?

 

BE SEXY, BUT TRUE TO YOURSELF

Something you should be cautious of, is losing yourself and your voice by trying to appeal too much to your audience. Your personality and uniqueness are a part of the equation too. Think of it this way. When you’re going out on a date, sure you might dress well, go to the other person’s favorite restaurant, and try to appeal to what attracts them, but you’re still being yourself (or at least I hope you are!).

All of the different elements I went over to improve the appeal of your blog posts are the building blocks of what will pull people in. But in order to make them stay, you have to add in your own personal flare. The writing has to be good. They have to gravitate to your brand and overall message. When you look at some of the top bloggers out there, you’ll notice that they inject their humor, experience and personality into their content. That’s what really sets them apart and allows them to build their company through content marketing.

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