Skateistan in a Box – Behind the scenes
Question: Hi, thanks for giving us a few more insights into the Skateistan project. Tell us: How did it all begin?
Florian: It was a lucky co-incident that we met Oliver Percovich, Founder and Executive Director of Skateistan, at the House of Beautiful Business 2020. Right after his presentation Nisarg watched his Ted Talk and sent him a mail. Ollie replied the next day, a first meeting was set up and ideas for and expectations of a joint project were identified.
Nisarg: For us, it was quickly clear that Skateistan is the project we’ve been looking for. A project for a good cause where we can donate not just money but our skills and time. So, we presented the idea to some colleagues first and finally to Karel who agreed that this is a project the whole team is involved in and passionate about. A core team of five people was set up and tasks were divided so that the entire INDEED team could easily contribute and donate their time to meet our goal of a multifunctional, modular, sustainable, and durable Skateistan in a Box.
Serendipity & the good cause
Question: Can you go into more detail? Why Skateistan?
Nisarg: Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organization that empowers children through skateboarding and education in Jordan, Cambodia, and South Africa and has aims to expand in over 20 locations in the next years. Their focus is on groups who are often excluded from sports and educational opportunities, especially girls, children living with disabilities, and those from low-income backgrounds.
The thing we found the most impressive was how Skateistan strengthens communities. Instead of providing “aid”, they give empowerment to communities to help themselves which is a far more sustainable approach.
Florian: And we share a similar mindset. There is a tough problem ahead of you but you’re pretty confident you’ll figure it out. This hands-on mentality resonated with us.
Question: And many such tough problems can be solved with our project Skateistan in a Box. What makes it so special?
Nisarg: Skateistan in a Box allows for better scalability to create more impact and support more kids. The system addresses the main issue, where every time Skateistan wants to expand, they need to build a new school, which takes up a lot of time, money, and resources. Skateistan in a Box takes all the great elements from an actual school and brings it all into an agile, quick to construct and off-grid solution that is viable without the need for large investments. This gives easier access to the program for all communities, which is particularly important for regions with societal, political, and environmental uncertainties.
A Box for communities and not just pupils
Nisarg: It is customized to suit the needs of the kids, educators, and community. It is special because it is not just a school – it is a hub for a community. As a community center, it is a general focal point for all ages to meet and be involved and offers opportunities for evening and vocational training, as well as for cultural events, and any other imaginable reason to gather.
Florian: The entire design is modular, expandable, and suitable for any environment from desert to urban. Like this, we are addressing the issue of scalability so that Skateistan’s award-winning program can have more impact and reach more kids. The key goal was to create a sustainable and circular system. Therefore, we utilized sustainable elements including an upcycled container, renewable suppliers, off-grid power and water, set focus on reusable and easy to maintain structures as well as upgradability and scalability.
Nisarg: And Skateistan in a Box is also special for us and the colleagues at INDEED! Because it is the possibility to utilize our know-how of sustainability, design, and engineering and combine our expertise with an international and brilliant team from Skateistan to come up with a creative solution together.
Question: And that is also the source from which you drew your motivation to work on this pro bono project (and for a lot of extra hours and free time?)
Nisarg: Yes, it is always great to utilize our skillset to help and support. But a good cause creates an everlasting impact. Being part of something so significant gives a lot of motivation.
Over 300 hours donated by motivated colleagues and Indeed
Question: Back to the project work. How was the teamwork?
Nisarg: Teamwork was really good. It was great to see how all people involved were passionate about the project and cause. 20 colleagues donated their free time to help with the development and design of Skateistan in a Box. This was great support for the entire design process and pitch deck delivery, and we would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you once again to all our helping hands.
Florian: Together with the international Skateistan team we had a few workshops in which people from multiple countries like South Africa, Germany, Cambodia, and Portugal participated. Sure, there were issues with the connection here and there, but all in all the team came out highly engaged and produced solid ideas and insights to create a visionary concept illustrated in the storyboard.
Question: What are your personal highlights?
Nisarg: There were a lot. All in all, the most impressive might be the passion of the people. When there is passion, things tend to work much smoother, and it makes the entire process much more enjoyable.
Florian: One of my highlights was of course creating some lovely illustrations that depict different use-cases and scenarios, from skateboard training to classroom activities, to a communal cooking event.
Question: Besides the highlights, were there also challenging things?
Florian: The biggest challenge was to balance the time between this project and our day-to-day work.
Nisarg: I agree with Flo, you want to give your all to ensure the solution will help the people that need it – but we needed to find a balance to deliver for our clients, too.
Social Impact as Booster
Final question: What are your learnings? Are there some you can adapt to other work projects?
Florian: It is crazy to think how much social impact you can create if you look beyond the usual brief and incorporate a more holistic approach to the spatial and experience design. We also learned that if you want the school to play an important role in society and culture, don’t just design it as a school, but also as a space for the community to thrive in. In the end, this creates a complete solution that strengthens the school´ s value for the community.
Nisarg: Another learning is how to organize larger teams to be involved in a project by breaking down the challenges into small concrete tasks that can be handed off easily without the need for extensive onboarding. And last but not least, as mentioned several times now: Hard challenges become manageable when everyone is engaged and excited about the final goal.
About our interview partner
Nisarg is a project lead and engineer specializing in product development from concept to production. With his technical expertise and management experience, he can easily communicate with all stakeholders on your project, from C-level to the workshop floor.
Florian is an industrial designer and storyteller at Indeed. He collaborates with our clients to design products, experiences, and narratives that encourage a more sustainable future.