Opinion: Boyana - Social Innovation: How it will make you money?


“Social Innovation” is the combination of existing practices that help us find new solutions for challenges in our society. It involves developing strategies, concepts and ideas that meet our social needs. Over the past decade, processes for cultural adjustment have brought about influential changes in the fields of technology, healthcare, government and education.

What I have been paying attention to is how we can apply existing tools from other fields to property developments, specifically in the residential sector because after all- what better place to start ameliorating our lives than in our living spaces.

Keeping in mind that with every new app or convenience, we are changing our society, and with every lifestyle modification we are re-inventing the way people live, let’s look to three areas that are leading social modernisation and can be useful for inspiration.
1.The hospitality industry:
Hotels have long been a canvas for daring ideas and continue to lead the evolution of lifestyle and convenience. The introduction of leisurely or beneficial amenities alongside a living space bridges a gap for the consumer between a fantasy world and attainable daily life - a significant approach to keep in mind when designing a permanent living space.

The emphasis of activity in common areas was pioneered in the hotel industry, and then popularised in residential developments with examples like pools, gyms, and shared rooftops. More recently we have been observing the socialization of the lobby space, which is sure to be repeated in residential planning.

Large hotel chains like Marriot, Shangri-La and Citizen M are promoting group seating, smaller (if any) reception desks, retail offerings and even work environments in greeting areas. These existing practices promote community interaction, vibrancy and passive surveillance.

Hotels also offer partnerships with restaurants and membership affiliations. When applied to a residential or commercial project, associations with popular brands can promote a new development as a trusted member of the community.

And when it comes to branding and online presentation, booking a room over the Internet is not dissimilar to purchasing off the plan, presentation must be clear and seductive. A strong identity gives credibility to the developer.

 2. Technology:
Look to start-ups and the app world for a glimpse of trends, faster communication with the end-user, and methods for understanding your market.

If your customer is using their mobile device for most daily tasks such as checking the bus schedule, ordering dinner, reading the paper and social media, perhaps offering a project portal with a platform of apps endorsed by your brand can be understanding to the their needs.

Think ‘scalable’ and ‘lasting’ when it comes to virtual networks as well as physical ones that will support social impact on the interior and around your project. In terms of convenience, what are the new products that can be installed during planning and sales phases to demonstrate innovation?Being informed across various industries can conceive ideas for modernising the classic experience, and ultimately generating more demand.
3. The Millennial Demographic:
Younger generations are the next customers. They also set standards for demand. Keeping up with popular culture in terms of commodity and convenience can help us visualise the modern residential and commercial experience from the end-user approach (whether renter or owner).

Younger generations embrace urbanisation, with a strong passion for connectivity, community activation, conveniences for a fast-pace life, sustainability and local resources.

Demand for home delivery is growing and celebrity chefs are second to local production and healthy offerings. The list goes on.


"Immerse yourself in these topics and others to curate a cleaver product with a point of difference. And remember to stay elegant. Developments that try to please everyone end up being loved by no-one."


Story by Boyana Popvassilev Director of design consultancy 26 Street.

Check out the interview with Boyana here

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