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AN INTERVIEW WITH CAPITAL ONE'S PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE DESIGN AND FABRICATION DIRECTOR

Nov30

Shared By Patrice Speed

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Capital One gave us the opportunity to take a closer look into their Experience Design org. At Britelite we are always in the mood for a fresh point of view and perspective on our industry from our clients and partners. Today I’m talking with Ripon DeLeon, Physical Experience Design and Fabrication Director at Capital One.

“it's a paradigm shift in a significant way to think about a space where people want to be, not need to be.”


Patrice: Could you describe what your team does at Capital One?

Rip: I'm currently part of the Experience Strategy team which is part of Capital One Experience Design organization. We are focused on how we do the work of design, and improving on the practice of design. My old team, which was the physical experience design team, had a specialized subset of experience design skills. Those skill sets are super valuable and something that we want to make mainstream, which is why we merged it into Capital One’s Experience Strategy Team.


Patrice: Your team was formerly the physical design team and now you're part of the a larger Capital One design team. Is this representing a shift at Capital One and how they approach design?

Rip: In a lot of ways it is a shift, but I think it's also a recognition of what was historically maybe at times seen as a niche, or a one off, now being a part of the holistic experience. Is it a digital experience? Is it a physical experience? The customer experience? or is it a social experience? If we want to have a perspective on the whole customer experience, you have to have both skill sets and you have to bring them both to the table. And so I think the shift is really a recognition of that; that this should be a core function of what we do as an experience design team. We had those skills before, but this way it's now part of the main conversation–if you will–as opposed to a small sort of a service that we would do in a one off capacity.

“We want to elevate it & have it be part of our broader approach to design.”

Recognition of that work and saying, OK, we've done this work, we've proved it out, and it's brought value toour organization, and now we need to just make this a core part of what we do. We can take that part and shift what we've been focused on as a small team to a bigger one.

“It’s not digital or physical—It's an experience design.”


Patrice: Do you think other large companies would benefit from thinking about design in that way?

Rip: Well, in a way, it all flows from the brand. The brand is how we show up in the world to our customers; that is the Capital One brand. I would also say that's a similar way we talk to our associates as well. Part of what we're trying to move toward is more of a unified brand experience, it's a Capital One experience. I think the future that we're moving towards is more of a hybrid one. We're going to see more and more experiences that are both digital and physical that are bridging that gap.

The organization that we're a part of certainly comes from a digital first perspective in terms of design, but I think the recognition for us is that it's starting to increasingly bridge that gap into physical space. We have to understand the implications of that in designing physical experiences, but also our digital ones to say, “OK, if this is viewed in this real world place, what does that mean to the person that's actually interacting with it?”


Patrice: What value does physical design add to a largely digital product suite?

Rip: The beauty of physical experiences is that's the language people communicate in. It is in that tangible emotion and that feeling that's really, really difficult for digital to do.


Patrice: How do we change and retrofit and redesign now for a touch-less society?

Rip: The thing that sticks with me, is that I feel an awareness all of a sudden towards our physical place, it is much more heightened. You now have immediate and visceral awareness of your space in a way that has been something we just haven't had really in a long time. I find it super fascinating and interesting and I think that has a lot of promise in a way, because that means to me, we're going to expect a lot more out of our space.

In that same sense I think they're going to be fewer of these physical touch points. Therefore, the continued ratification of those is going to only increase the importance of getting them right, because they will be much more high value and prominent in your memory. Before COVID-19, there was certainly an increasing move to digital in physical space, and I think if anything, this [pandemic] has been an accelerator of that.


Patrice: Has any technology come out that you're excited about or that you want to work with over the next year?

Rip: Yes! No touch interfaces, obviously those are super relevant to the moment. Even more interesting is holographic and mid-air touch interfaces. They're super interesting, I'm not exactly sure where they fit in, butI'd like to drill into them a specific type of technology


Patrice: What is your favorite project that you thought did a great job of integrating physical and digital?

Rip:
I love all the projects I've worked on, how do you pick a favorite. I think it's part of being a designer, though, it's like every project you do, you can also see how it can be better. When we did an installation at South by Southwest for Capital One, it was pretty simple, it was a hand painted mural with some capacitive touch sensing hotspots and a projector overhead, with some animation embedded within that mural. It was really simple, not a big lift technology wise. It was an interesting level of detail that we zoomed into and it was just really fun. It was really engaging and it was a great learning experience in terms of how it was received. The part that I always enjoy the most about these experiences is actually watching people engage with them and genuinely enjoying that experience.

"What I've learned is just try to keep it simple and then let people add the other complexity to it."


Patrice: Any final thoughts or anything you want to share about the work you guys are doing?

Rip:
Rethinking how we present physical spaces based on what we do digitally, but also rethinking how we design digital based on what we know about physical design. It is an interesting Push-Pull, and thinking about the times we've used digital experiences to inform fabrication. We actively think about how we move someone through a digital experience in a 3D space, not in front of one screen but in front of multiple screens. There are some different ways that we approach that. Always start with a story, idea, concept, and then what is the physical piece to support that. But there are also instances where we come into a space and the physical is already determined and we have to come up with the next installation to leverage that and bring it to life.

“Designers thrive on ambiguity, because we like solving tough, unknown challenges.”


Thanks to Rip for sharing his insights with us. We look forward to seeing what innovative projects the Capital One Design team comes up with next.

Rip DeLeon
Director of Physical Experience Design at Capital One, Rip DeLeon


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