Mini has turned a former Brooklyn warehouse into a new design centre as part of the car maker’s move to develop its own take on the challenges of the urban environment (owner BMW has been busy in this space for a while with its BMW Guggenheim Lab). A/D/O kicked off proceedings last month with its first programme, Utopia vs. Dystopia: Designing Our Imagined Futures, which aims to investigate the role design plays in a world of rapid change.
A/D/O is home to Urban-X, a start-up accelerator launched together with venture capital outfit SOSV, which is looking to ‘engineer the city as a service’. That means supporting start-ups focused on intelligent cities, urban hypergrowth, and society-scale challenges with a view to creating a platform for the ‘city of the future’. Accelerator participants will get to work closely with Mini design, mechanical, and electrical engineering types.
Already selected for Urban-X are grow-your-own-food outfit Farmshelf, Brooklyness, the maker of ‘the world’s most intelligent bike helmet’, city data specialists Numina, organic waste recycler Industrial Organic and smart intercom company Nello.
A/D/O also boasts a workspace with rentable desks and prototyping facilities, a design store, a range of indoor/outdoor spaces for open work and collaboration. Plus there’s Norman, a restaurant run by Scandinavian culinarists Fredrik Berselius and Claus Meyer – the pair plan to further explore the New Nordic cooking style, as well as examine how design influences the food experience. Unsurprisingly, the food is locally-sourced and hyper-seasonal.
“Our aim is to be a catalyst for new and relevant work,” says Nathan Pinsley, md of A/D/O. “Meaningful design requires exchange and stimulation and we’ve built a place entirely for that purpose.”
“We believe designers can tip the scales towards a more humane world,” says Esther Bahne, Mini head of brand strategy and business innovation. “[At Mini], we aim to develop products and services that are truly relevant to people. A/D/O was founded in this spirit – to serve the creative community, locally and globally.”