Billings Jackson Design, Moscow Department of Transport
User Experience Architect, Industrial Designer 2018
- Project Lead.
- New Moscow Transit Kiosks, Street Signs, Public Furniture, Electric Bus Concepts.
- Site visit, interviews with communters, store owners and manufacturers.
- Consultation with Moscow Department of Transport, manufacturers and engineers.
- Concept, ideation presentation and refinement.
- Soft prototyping of new consumer interaction.
- Detailed design, parts lists, order of assembly and best practice.
- Computer Aided Design, part animation and renderings.
- Design approved by Deputy Mayor of Moscow and Head of the Department for
Transport and Road Infrastructure Development – Maxim Liksutov.
Practice Reflection: Moscow Kiosk
In 2017 to 2018 I worked for Billings Jackson Design (London) as the project lead on the redesign of a Kiosk for the Moscow Department of Transport (DOT). It was a city wide initiative seeking to develop a new design to assist the small retailers that occupy the baroque and beautiful underground passageways of the Moscow metro network.
Although from an outsider's perspective the ritual consumer habits of Muscovites and their kiosks can be seen as quaint and beautiful, to the residents and the burgeoning middle class, its presence reflected harder times – the fall of the soviet union and the economic collapse that followed. The initial brief presented by the DOT was highly focused on aesthetics and stressed the importance of a short timeline for the pilot project to be delivered. City elections were only one year away and there was a clear need to demonstrate to the residents that change was coming and to have faith in the existing powers in place.
The DOT briefing lead with the design intent of the New York Apple store – a pristine transparent box that floated in a grey city landscape. Although aesthetically beautiful when redesigning the kiosks it would not be suitable to simply translate the manufacturing and concept of this space directly into the small corridors of metro. Instead it was argued that to improve the design of the kiosk we would have to redesign ritual engagement of commutures. This would be achieved by interviewing everyday commutures, store owners and of the transit system and manufatures of the stalls – discover their needs and build form and interaction around their requirements.
To ensure consultation was effective when engaging the Moscow DOT, I developed a framework to capture key aspects of the project organised under the subject headings; Context, Field of design and Stakeholders.
Mapping out this initial scoping phase helped when I was flown over for a two week site visit at the end of October 2017. During this time I was given tours by the DOT as they assisted with translating on site interviews with commuters, kiosk owners, and the project managers who were planning the contracts for new food and beverage, retail and services of the metro.
Visiting the pilot sites and examining the construction of previous stalls, what quickly became apparent were the misaligned square hollow sections, messy welds, and the use of rivets and adhesives to patch ill fitting panels. From this insight, it was concluded that the poor construction of the existing design came from the variability of the sites. With the corridors of the stations having uneven floor, varying ceiling heights, external wiring and panel ceiling. Each kiosk essentially was being treated as a new product every time it was being built. This in turn showed that the kiosks appearance was more reliant upon the craftsmanship of the builder rather than the design itself.
To combat this the new kiosk set a creative restraint by proposing on a new modular system with interlocking aluminium extrusions, where key components and foundations could be made off site with the accuracy and tolerances of industrial manufacturing yet the components would be adaptable and compatible with a large variety of sites and conditions. New extrusions and gigs would assist alignment, dwarfs would be used to adjust to the variable height of the floor and skirting board would be used to cover the joints and conceal the routing of wires that would power new illuminated signage.
When observing commuters we identified that another key component of the project would be to reinterpret the consumer engagement of the hatch. Because of kiosks limited space traditionally the small windows of the stalls would be used as a counter, but were bordered up during the freezing winters and opened only when a customer came by.
This design was undesirable as it interrupted the sight line of the stall vender and the customer creating an impersonal interaction. To transform this engagement I developed a new door and counter mechanism. This was achieved by extending the length of the columns outward into the passage ways, allowing the hatch to fall forward, opening up a shared space for exchange. The extension of the columns would also afford a more personal engagement by acting as blinds to the comings and goings of commuters also improving acoustics. The increased surface area of the columns also allowed a greater degree of tolerance for builders when assembling the modular kiosk components.
I held weekly Skype meetings with staff of the DOT to discuss the project's development and agreed on design principals and targets to ensure an efficient delivery. By January the project had pushed past the design development stage and been approved by both the head of the DOT and the current deputy mayor of Moscow Maxim Liksutov.