Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

Great design can stop us in our tracks. We marvel at its elegance and functionality, thinking: “WOW – this is brilliant! Who’s come up with this idea?”

Often, we wish we had the same ability to imagine things, to create something uniquely beautiful and undeniably useful. Something that others would come to love and couldn’t imagine living without.

Our guest, Ayse Birsel, has come to believe that we all have this ability.

Contrary to what a lot of us believe, ordinary people can be extraordinarily creative – when given the right tools and processes.

We can use this creativity in all sorts of unique pursuits, including reimagining and reinventing our teams, our cultures and our workplaces.

In this episode, Ayse and I discuss how to think like a designer to create a team, a company or a culture that we love.

Episode Highlights
  • Ayse’s first encounter with industrial design
  • The mindset we need to think like a designer
  • How the “Deconstruction – Reconstruction” process can be used to design a powerful employee experience
  • Benefits of engaging others in creative problem solving
  • The power of dichotomies and focusing on both our needs and our wants
  • How to identify our values by reflecting on who our heroes and role-models are
  • Why design thinking is not enough
  • Getting the best ideas from the worst places
Our Challenge

Join us in this episode’s challenge!

45 minutes into this interview, we talk about combining our needs with our wants to come up with creative solutions to the tensions that we experience in life and at work.

And this conversation gave us an idea for a challenge that we’d like to invite you to participate in:

Use your creative thinking and come up with ideas on how you can integrate things that feel like a mini-vacation into your work-life!

Tag Ayse and myself on social media and let us know what you have come up with the hashtags #minivacations #CultureLab

Listen to the full interview in the player below, or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review and it may be featured on a future episode.

Audio production by James Ede, Be Heard

Prefer listening on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify? Just click below.

More about Ayse Birsel

Ayse Birsel is one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People 2017. She is the author of Design the Life You Love, a book and coursework that teaches how to create a meaningful life using design processes and tools. On the Thinkers50 shortlist for talent, she writes a weekly post on innovation for

The co-founder and Creative Director of Birsel + Seck, Ayse designs award-winning products and systems with Fortune 100 and 500 companies, including Amazon, Colgate-Palmolive, Herman Miller, GE, IKEA, Philips, Staples, and Toyota.

Ayse is the recipient of numerous awards including IDEA (Industrial Design Excellence Awards) Gold Awards, Best of NeoCon Gold Awards, Young Designers Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Athena Award for Excellence in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design.

In 2016, she was chosen as one of the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches. She is also a TEDx speaker. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the MoMA, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Born in Izmir, Turkey, Ayse came to the US in 1986 to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY on a Fulbright Scholarship. Since then she has called New York her home, living there with her husband and partner, Bibi Seck, and their three children, who continue to inspire her life’s design.

Find Ayse on Twitter, LinkedIn, or her website.

Resources and Books Mentioned on the Podcast

Orange paper by Birsel + Seck: “What Millenials Want at Work – download it here.
You can view Ayse’s interview for the Interior Magazine here.

Ayse Birsel, “Design the Life You Love”
Beth Comstock, “Imagine it Forward”
Marshall Goldsmith, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”
Jonathan Haid, “The Happiness Hypothesis”
Don Norman, “The Design of Everyday Things”
Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit”

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