Multidisciplinary design practice HASSELL has acquired UK-based user experience designers FreeState, in a $6 million move that aims to capitalise on a growing preference for experiences over “things”, according to FreeState creative director Adam Scott.
“What that means is that brands – and places – now live or die by how well they inspire attraction, involvement and a sense of belonging,” Mr Scott said.
He said the starting point for design was people, and imagining their “ideal journey” in order to create an “ideal future environment”.
“So we can work with clients well before the traditional design process would start to define individual user journeys and map ideal experiences of places moment by moment to create engaging, meaningful and memorable experiences, events, buildings and places.”
The “experience master planning” company has already worked in the property and built environment space for clients including Brookfield Property and Exemplar, as well as big brands such as Sony, Nokia and Virgin Atlantic.
In Australia the two firms are already at work on their first joint project, designing the new workplace strategy being implemented at Arup’s Australian offices in Melbourne.
“As part of the strategy in Melbourne we were keen to engage clients as well as our staff in the design process. We wish to truly capture what’s great about working with and at Arup within our new workplace,” said Arup’s buildings principal and office leader Dr Joseph Correnza.
“We were aware of FreeState’s past work, and their merger with HASSELL has allowed us to take a different approach to our workplace design. We stepped into the shoes of our clients to understand their experience and how that impacts us as a business. This, in turn, helped the HASSELL design team to deliver the most innovative, engaging and experiential workplace for us.”
HASSELL managing director Rob Backhouse said the acquisition would allow the practice to encompass new ways to deliver value to clients and end-users.
“Globalisation, rapid urbanisation and fast-changing technology are fundamentally changing the way we live, learn, work and play. Our clients and cities are grappling with these dynamics daily – and it’s increasingly vital to understand and design for the ‘human factors’ associated with these changes,” Mr Backhouse said.
FreeState will continue to operate under its own name and leadership but as part of HASSELL.