Jan ChipChase is the James Bond of design research. “I just came from six weeks on the road: Tokyo, London, Beirut, rural Uganda, Kenya, Barcelona, New York,” says the Brit, who is stationed in Shanghai as Frog Design’s executive creative director of global insights. “I stayed in the Trump Towers, a $10 shack near the Sudanese border, and traveled with a Hezbollah fixer on a motorcycle.” Chipchase, who originally studied interface design, gained his reputation as an extreme method researcher after spending almost a decade in Nokia’s research center and design studio. Last year, Frog hired Chipchase to apply sociology, ethnography, and psychology to product design for clients such as GE and Lenovo. Most recently, he ventured to Afghanistan to understand mobile banking for Frog’s numerous telecom clients. “I could take my team anywhere in the world to research this,” says Chipchase, who typically takes some 10,000 snapshots when he goes into the field (including the ones under Inspiration). “But I know when you go to more extreme places, you’re more likely to see things that exist elsewhere, but aren’t quite as visible.”
I like being at the ends of the spectrum.