FORMATION engages in the reflective practice of design and research.

Each of these modalities—one generative and the other responsive—is not only tempered but strengthened by the other, and the two are in constant dialogue.

We strive to create designs that are students of their contexts, and to communicate the results of our research such that the creative potential of data shines through in its presentation.


fig. a Documentation of pedestrian journey between landmark destinations at the Houston Zoo (2018).

Our research practice draws from ethnographic and cultural research techniques, relying heavily on contextual interviews and in-situ observation of users in their experienced realities. fig. a The directness of these methods allows us to flatten institutional hierarchies and rise above established organizational silos in order to uncover unexpected truths.

While we begin each project by developing a set of core questions and activities to guide our research, we expect and anticipate expanding upon or deviating from this foundation once research is under way, as new and interesting avenues inevitably reveal themselves. fig. b

Site assets HEALTHCARE
fig. b Key findings and first-hand quotes from subjects are gathered and shared out to core stakeholders at the end of each research day. This way, we can begin to identify patterns and new guiding questions as they emerge in real time.


The purpose of our research efforts is to identify opportunities for design interventions, whether they be changes to the built environment or improvements to the 'fourth dimension' of processes, systems, and atmospheres that shape an experience. fig. c Because our approach to design is contextual, the result can be minimally additive or even, in some cases, subtractive.

As designers we take seriously the responsibility of bringing new things into a world that is heavily saturated with ‘stuff’. Our research practice allows us to achieve a greater degree of clarity and utility in the objects, spaces, and systems we create.

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fig. c A hospital client's Cath Lab procedures had a high rate of reschedule because patients routinely showed up late—causing the hospital to lose tens of thousands of dollars each time. Our research uncovered that the root cause of the issue was easily fixable: an incorrect MyChart notification was causing patients to put the wrong arrival time into their calendars.

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