Interview with designer allen international (ai), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Absa Technology Bank.

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Interview with allen international at Monday 11th of February 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
ai : To help position Absa as the 'market leader' in South Africa and provide various customers segments with new ways of banking.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
ai : Showcasing the 'best that Absa has to offer' in terms of innovative and intuitive technology and customer interaction.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
ai : The new 'laboratory' branch is going to continually evolve - plans are afoot to create an area in-branch where Absa's customers and clients can come together and benefit from each other, almost like a physical Groupon, using Absa's business connections as well as customer base and creating value for every party.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
ai : 6 months

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
ai : It was commissioned by Absa South Africa.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
ai : We were very keen to use local furniture manufacturers as a showcase of the high quality local talent eg. Haldane Martin and use this 'local' talent as inspiration for our graphics, materials etc.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
ai : Various customer segments from within the South African market from the underbanked to middle segments and private banking section.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
ai : It is a glimpse of the future of retail banking in South Africa. It is tangible evidence of what Absa customers have said they want. The Branch of Tomorrow, Today shows that Absa is actively listening and responding to these customers and finding ways to meet their needs through simple and innovative banking solutions. As we set out to design the branch it was conceptualised as a test pad that would ' mean different things to different customers'.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
ai : Laboratory high tech branch

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
ai : The new branch offers customers several self-service portals. Technology is a key element and the branch's visual presentation, alongside the use of digital media in-store is equally important.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
ai : allen international design directors, interior designers and graphic designers, South African furniture designers and digital design companies.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
ai : Not only as a showcase of leading technological innovation for future roll-outs to the Absa branch network but also as a showcase for community engagement and marketing promotions. Interactive screens enable customers to conduct low-complexity activities without traditional queuing thus making banking that much easier.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
ai : A branch and competitor audit was completed during our strategy phase of the project.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
ai : Entered last year and won A design award