Interview with Special Projects’ Founders, Adrian & Clara Gaggero Westaway

Special Projects helps brave companies to discover new opportunities by revealing user needs and transforming them into tomorrow’s most loved customer experiences and products.

Established in 2014, We are a design and invention consultancy. Our mission is to enhance the unquantifiable aspects of life: empathy, wellbeing, delight, with meaningful design and invention. To achieve this we leverage human insight, technology and the thought process of magicians. Magic has a central role in the Special Projects design process and way of thinking.

Our work is conceptually rigorous and blurs the boundaries between industrial, experience and interaction design to create products and environments that bring value for our clients and add meaning to the lives of the people we design for.


How did you come up with the idea for the company?

We had studied at the Royal College of Art together, focusing on Innovation Design Engineering. From here, we both wanted to continue to work on innovative and inventive design projects, eventually landing projects with the likes of Blackberry, Samsung and the BBC to support their teams from an innovation and creative perspective.

We always enjoyed the freedom of design thinking that came with our university course, and wanted to continue this as a career, to drive a company that brings freedom and openness to its design work. Special Projects was borne out of a consistent uptake in new, exciting projects for companies seeking that innovative design consultation.

Having worked early on with Samsung and Blackberry, we were able to quickly gain incredible exposure for ourselves as a smaller in size creative design agency with a twist – one which was inspired by the intersection of design and technology with wellbeing and also magic. Our early successes naturally helped to win more exciting projects and saw the company progress from there, taking on new briefs and growing at a consistent rate. These projects saw us move more into the technology space, and we haven’t looked back since.


What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

For female entrepreneurs, it’s all about confidence. You always have to believe in yourself and follow your talent. Be honest about your strengths, and really use these to drive your day-to-day work. Believe in yourself, and in your ability. Trust yourself, and persevere.

For all young designers, we always say: “If you are not having fun, you are not working hard enough!”

What can we hope to see from Special Projects in the future?

We have been incredibly active in two main areas, which include exploring the intersection of wellbeing and technology; and also how we can humanise technology. We want to help technology become much more connected with users, and feel less ‘unemotional’. We want to empower people through technology, and that can only be done by improving the user experience and thinking more about what the users get from technology on a deeper level.

Our speciality is people and technology. We are interested in the projects which provide a warmer experience for users. More emotional connection through a “people-centric” experience.

We are incredibly passionate about putting ideas into practice which involve the convergence of design, user experience and engagement, and ultimately bring greater meaning to the lives of people we are designing for. We also want to be designing and creating with this at the very centre of our work.

For example, we have recently launched our series of concepts in response to the launch of the NHS Track & Trace app. While the app does so much for us as a society in the fight against the Coronavirus, we wanted to explore how new features for future iterations of the app could help to promote a user experience that is sensitive to our stress, fears and anxieties towards COVID-19.
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