Yes this man is one of my heroes. If I have to name someone I want to learn from it would be him and his team of Small Works Sinclair. An design company that makes buildings.

His approach to design is crystal clear. He designs for life, on the ground. What I mean by that is he actually looks at where he is or even better where his building has to emerge. Sinclair has built many refugee shelters. But the shelters are made by the refugees, locals, his team and last for more than 5 years. Because they are built the ‘local way’. Instead of been made in the West or China and than placed in the conflict area, hoping it will last a while. To built locally you have to understand the area and learn from where you are, on the ground.

What happens if you design on the ground? Well you get to meet and learn from the people who need your knowledge. Together with them you could build the structure for them. They will contribute, understand the circumstances of the surroundings and therefor know what to look out for and moreover they start to love the product. The love is important, it means there will be great use and ownership. Last but not least: everyone involved learns, hands-on education I’d say.

“If you don’t want to design objects, design systems, and most importantly design like you give a damn!” – Cameron Sinclair, 2016


The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

A book, a movement, an explanation of effective business strategies. Ries describes the methods one can use to understand your consumers and also the importance of speaking with them. He explains how to read the harvested data and why certain numbers don’t mean a thing. Like: 100 new subscribers, nice but if they never return you still have nothing. Sounds harsh but it is the truth. To get back to the consumer conversations. Ries is very clear that if you put your head in the sand and wish for things to happen, you don’t learn. As nice as your work may be, if the end user doesn’t get it or wants more/less you end up empty handed. Useful insight for the future maybe although I had the feeling this is definitely not just for startups but very much for any project that one undertakes. 

A part of the book that got me thinking is when Ries explains the methods of investment and research. Asking 5 why questions to get to the bottom of a problem, invest and measure with a smaller target group before moving on and don’t wait until it is finished but test all phases. All I thought was: I wished I had tried that with two or three projects in the past! 

Ries, Eric (2011) The Lean Startup, Crown Business