The beginnings of a great adventure

Pollinis blog • June 2020

Portrait of Sylvain Duchesne


Behind the foundation of Pollinis, there is a career path of more than 25 years where I tried as a designer to find my way. I have long associated the designer as an actor of change. Over the years, through product design, I have responded to needs by designing useful and enjoyable products.
Since I graduated from university, I’ve had this little inner voice that confronts me between my desires as a creator and the reality of our times: do we always need to consume more ? Why endlessly push this production of objects without really caring about the negative social and environmental impacts ? Certainly, I believe it takes good designers (and it will take some !) to create products that will make a positive difference. Was that what I was supposed to do ? Work only on mandates with positive social and environmental impacts ? Didn’t have any answers for that. Therefore, I didn’t feel completely in the right place.

Be in the right place

Who hasn’t dreamed of being in the right place ? When I had this thought about myself, I could see that there was a slight disconnect. Life goes on, projects come in. I was certainly not unhappy, but the personal and professional discourse was not the same. How do I align my social and human values and connect it all together ? I was in the Boy Scouts for a long time in my youth. One of the promises we make in this movement is to help other people at all times. When I look back, I see and understand what animated me at a certain time: mutual aid, community, human solidarity. How can I connect all these dots together to make one personal and professional frame ? Isn’t it the designer’s strength to connect together all these points that have no similarities between them ?

New York, 2018

In recent years, we have seen the famous term design thinking appear here and there in many management and training companies. A good thing in a way; we recognize the value and potential of a design approach to solve problems. Surprisingly, we rarely find a designer behind these initiatives. Is the design approach or process being diluted and reduced to simplified tools ? However, I certainly do not want to start a debate here. Certainly, I am very happy to see that design and these tools can reach more people. As a designer, I had to be a part of this conversation.
As a result, 2 years ago I decided to join the Global Design Thinking Alliance (GDTA) at the Hasso Plattner Institute. I went to NYC for a GDTA event. I was driven by this curiosity to get to know these global players who use design thinking in their practice. I had the chance to meet inspiring people from all over the world who use the design thinking approach as a lever for social transformation. At that moment, I felt a transition that was about to become a salutary one for my career path.
Design thinking workshop in NYC

Toronto, 2019

After that, I wanted to get closer to designers who use a much more social approach in their design work. Luckily, the annual global event for service designers, the Service Design Global Conference was held last year in Toronto. While attending, I met professionals, teachers who are all working together to help others for a better future. I met a community of designers dedicated to collaborating in a much more humane practice.
That’s it, it was in Toronto that I had just connected the last point necessary for my transformation. The year 2020 will be a year of transition for me and my career path. I had finally figured out where I came from and where I now wanted to go.

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Pollinis is a service design agency.
We help you develop your user reflex so that
the services you offer meet real needs.

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