Jan Chipchase http://janchipchase.com Travel Interesting Mon, 22 May 2017 08:31:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.9 http://janchipchase.com/fp/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-JC-32x32.png Jan Chipchase http://janchipchase.com 32 32 46474050 The Field Study Handbook, Launched http://janchipchase.com/2017/05/the-field-study-handbook-launched/ Mon, 22 May 2017 08:31:11 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25514 TheFieldStudyHandbook

Decided to launch TFSH as a Kickstarter.

Seven days to go.

There are unusual rewards.

Buy it here.

61 Glimpses of the Future http://janchipchase.com/2016/08/61-glimpses-of-the-future/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 06:21:42 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25507 20160611-Khorog-0064

In the last five weeks I’ve travelled 7,000km overland through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan’s GBAO region and China’s western provinces. After a year of working flat out the journey was part vacation, a desire to fill in few gaps of my knowledge of the region and a Studio D assignment.

For those that don’t know, the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) is a remote, sparsely populated, mostly Pamiri, Kyrgyz-speaking region of Tajikistan. Home to the Pamir mountains, it has decent argument for calling itself the “the roof of the world”.

61 Glimpses of the Future.

The Art of Gifting Tibetan Viagra http://janchipchase.com/2016/08/the-art-of-gifting-tibetan-viagra/ Mon, 15 Aug 2016 06:12:34 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25503 Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 23.06.44

A short piece written for Roads & Kingdoms titled The Art of Gifting Tibetan Viagra.

On Writing The Field Study Handbook http://janchipchase.com/2016/01/on-writing/ Wed, 06 Jan 2016 04:01:36 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25379 IMG_0103

The The Field Study Handbook is taking shape.

A fresh fresh brew.
Every day, for the past three years, at least an hour spent writing.

No distractions.

Often jet lagged, occasionally permalagged.

The result is that it now sits at 150k words, 100+ diagrams, frameworks, templates.
“But when is it out?”

Half a chapter of writing to go, and a lot of clean up work.
The landing site received a refresh.
The illustrator starts this month.
The proofreader, requires only a little more proof.
Whether to design and self publish or shop around to a publisher?
It, and I’m still figuring out what it is, should be out in 2016.

If you enjoy the journey—
and I enjoy the journey more than any destination—
then it takes as long as it needs, and not a jot more.
The properties of the material defines the deliverables,
it takes a while to figure out what the should be.

I’m working with good people.
Learning a lot.
Long may that continue.

2015, Studio D End of Year Report http://janchipchase.com/2016/01/end-of-year-report/ Wed, 06 Jan 2016 03:57:12 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25382 Commute

Everybody needs a rice paddy commute.

If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to this past year, read the studio d end of year report.

Desert Push http://janchipchase.com/2015/05/25368/ Sun, 10 May 2015 22:06:50 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25368 20150508-SOM-0010

In Somalia/Somaliland for a project, good crew, interesting times.

The tail-end to a month on the road that has taken in Milan, Lisbon, London, Oslo and Moscow. And so it goes.

Mobile / Home Theory http://janchipchase.com/2015/04/mobile-home-theory/ Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:38:54 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25353 Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 2.38.20 AM

Photo credit: Venetia Tay.

In cultures where guests are frequently invited into the home, the home is the dominant mechanism for communicating stories about ourselves, what we stand for, where we have come from and where we are heading. These are the things that ground who we are, how we want to be perceived. They make us whole.

That postcard on the fireplace, the book on the shelf, your style of furniture, your brands in the fridge, all serve as short-hands for your friends, peers and occasionally colleagues, conversations that are triggered, or don’t even need to be had because the information has already been absorbed.

If the need to communicate who we are is a human universal, how does it occur in cultures where guests in the home are less frequent?

In Asian societies such as China, Japan, South Korea it is far less common for hosts to invite guests into the home compared to, say, the US or Germany. These are eating-out cultures, where a decent (or at least filling) local meal can be had for less than the price of cooking oneself. The home may be small (Japan, South Korea) or exceedingly rudimentary (until relatively recently, mass-market China).

In cultures where guest access to homes is low, the brands we wear, own and use play a disproportionately large role in projecting out what we stand for and who we are. Footwear, bags, clothes, jewellery and smartphone are, by their very presence in everyday interactions, major vehicles for personal identity. If you work in any one of these industries, look at the proportion of these markets that are driven by fashion and premium, over other categories of the same product.

The rapid rise of China, and luxury-good consuming China masks a significant societal shift to how mass-market Chinese express themselves, and the vehicles for identity and that self-expression. Growing home ownership in China, will significantly weaken the demand for shiny new carried, handheld or wrist-worn baubles. The signs are already there if you know where to look, it will take a quarter of a generation for it to play out and impact the mass market.

It will also be seen as a significant inter-generational marker.

The Psychology of Packing http://janchipchase.com/2015/04/the-psychology-of-packing/ http://janchipchase.com/2015/04/the-psychology-of-packing/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:26:50 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25352 Salalah

Why the way you pack shapes your journey

For many travellers wheeled luggage is the most efficient way of getting from known-A to known-B. The reality is far from elegant, but that’s fine, it’s airplane-travel-as-commute and it has its place in the world. Perverse as it may sound to the wheeled hordes, carrying your own load makes for better travel.

Most hardened travellers have a hand-luggage only policy. In our studio we go one step further — we have a no-wheels rule for field work travel. We operate in environments where a week can span the seedier side of New York to upscale Delhi and pretty much everywhere in-between. For us, wheels represent tethered travel: the body is present, but the mind remains elsewhere.

There is a better way to travel regardless of whether it’s a weeks-long business trip or an extended weekend away. The most rewarding travel has enough breathing room for serendipity, the uniqueness of the locale, and a nuanced appreciation of journey. Chance encounters that won’t appear on any itinerary.

The dilemma of what to take and what to leave behind is as old as travel itself. The mistake that hits rookies and the experienced alike, is in packing too much stuff. How much do we really need to take? Why do we always take more that we need?

To understand why we need to unpack the psychology of packing.

People pack in anticipation of future events, with varying degrees of clarity to what that future holds. The purpose of the trip dictates packing choices: business meetings, a conference; visiting family; city breaks; mountain treks. So far so obvious.

Over the past decade, with colleagues Fumiko Ichikawa, Raphael Grignani and Younghee Jung I’ve run over a dozen projects that have delved into carrying and packing behaviours — from Accra to Seoul, NYC to Tehran. Research participants often rationalised the choice of what to take in terms of: necessities; good-to-have; luxuries; buy-on-the-way; and not-needed. The less that is known about the destination, the more we put objects in the good-to-have category. Use can be imagined, but the contextual barriers to use, the reasons why the objects remain untouched, are not yet understood. At the other end of the predictability scale the lack of concrete anchors frees us to pack for convenience.

Women are arguably more sophisticated packers than men because day-to-day they far more likely to use some form of bag, whereas men are far more reliant on pockets. This heavy use of bags is partly down to clothing and physique, partly societal roles, including a bias towards being the day-to-day primary carer for children. Women’s achilles heel is that, like any bag carrier they are highly likely to carry more than they need. Prior to the journey, in the comfort of the home the cost of managing what is inside a bag is greater than simply adding more. Only after the trip has started, when the drawback of that extra bulk is apparent is the desire for remedial action, the clear-out, triggered. By then it is too late. The same process applies to digital storage — most people don’t think about managing their hard drive or cloud storage account until it is close to overflowing. Content will expand to fit the container. Women are more likely to face this everyday, men are more likely to confront it on longer journeys.

Wheeled luggage leads us astray. During packing wheels promise weightlessness, which then leads to luggage filled to capacity, and heavier items being packed. While we’re still at home, in our idealised, airport-smooth-surface view of the world this isn’t a problem, but in the real world it rapidly shapes what the journey can become: from airport escalators that don’t work; to hitching a ride on the back of a motorbike; to, at the last minute, enjoying a nearby mountain range for the weekend.

The disconnect lies between the moment of packing and when the impact of those choices become apparent. How do we prioritise what to take? We rationalise the value of things in terms of practical considerations such as “it will keep me warm”; or psychological “I feel more comfortable knowing its there” or “I’ll be on top of my game at the meeting”. But here too our packing strategies fall flat: we pack on the assumption that we have perfect visibility on the objects we carry.

The reality is that humans have fleeting memories: objects that don’t trigger our senses are far less likely to be used. Things that were important at home, are deprioritised once you land in Cancun, Cleveland or Kabul. Much of what we carry is not used, or even considered for use.

Every object we leave behind is one less predetermined outcome. If you want your heart to leap at the possibility of what the journey can hold, park the wheels, pack less, and enjoy every ounce of weight.

I’ve spent much of the last decade travelling for work, from Tashkent to Tokyo, Tehran, well, pick a city and extrapolate from there. I’ve learned the hard way what not to pack, and what my ideal luggage should be. Aside from clothes I usually travel with high end camera gear, and sometimes payroll for the the local crew — I need something light, robust, that will deflect prying eyes. For what its worth, here’s how my luggage enables me to make the most of every trip.

  1. Steer clear of wheels. They are the loan-sharks of weight and space. For a little up-front joy, you’ll be paying back for the rest of your journey.
  2. Limit luggage to one piece that fits into a business class footwell or under an economy class seat (about 42 litres). The impact is two-fold: if it’s weighed at check-in (and with that size it rarely is), the overhead weight limits don’t apply; and if the overheads are full it doesn’t leave your side.
  3. Leave 10% of your luggage space for what the journey has to offer.

Travel interesting.

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100 Questions for the Young Creative http://janchipchase.com/2015/03/100-questions-for-the-young-creative/ Sun, 01 Mar 2015 21:47:53 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25348 20111106-Tokyo-0001

What question do you wish you’d asked earlier in your careers?

Read: 100 Questions for the Young* Creative.

* or young at heart.

A Year of Reflection http://janchipchase.com/2015/02/a-year-of-reflection/ Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:25:34 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25340 JanChipchase-StudioD-Interactions15-vFinal.066

Last week I spoke at the IxDA conference in San Francisco. A number of people asked for a copy of the talk + slides. It’s not verbatim, but near enough. Based on feedback the running order has changed. Download the slides here.

Commute http://janchipchase.com/2015/02/commute-3/ Mon, 09 Feb 2015 06:57:48 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25335 Seoul: Commute

Two meetings in Seoul. Early morning commute.

Outside Looking In http://janchipchase.com/2015/02/outside-looking-in/ Mon, 09 Feb 2015 06:55:56 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25334 Chengdu: Looking In or Out

Your world view depending on whether you’re inside or outside of the bubble.

Passing through Chengdu.

The Build http://janchipchase.com/2015/01/the-build/ Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:50:46 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25326 Zhonglui: the build

A week in China. Good times.

Studio D, End of Year Report http://janchipchase.com/2014/12/studio-d-end-of-year-report/ Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:32:12 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25317 Oman

A summary of what we got up to in the first year of the studio.

Decomp http://janchipchase.com/2014/12/decomp-2/ Sat, 13 Dec 2014 11:57:28 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25300 20141209-Salalah-0376

After a month flat out, decomp.



Agents of Change http://janchipchase.com/2014/12/agents-of-change/ Sat, 13 Dec 2014 11:54:37 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25296 Dubai

Running a project in the middle east this past month.

Project Up http://janchipchase.com/2014/12/project-up/ Sun, 07 Dec 2014 12:04:58 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25306 Saudi

On the ground with a large team working out of three cities in the Kingdom, one fascinating topic to explore, for a commercial client that is looking to launch in 2015.

Falling in love for the first time, again http://janchipchase.com/2014/11/falling-in-love-for-the-first-time-again/ Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:43:55 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25278 Koln: Station

Why do you remember certain experiences? What do you want to remember and why? What if you could experience falling in love for the first time, again?

What aspects of experiences do you remember accurately, what aspects blur, and what is forgotten? What are the triggers that reinforce your recollection? What you’ve done? With whom? How do those memories make you feel?

How do the triggers for those memories change over time? Who controls those triggers? How precise are those triggers today, and in what time frame will they become uncannily precise?

Our captured and shared experiences shape who we are, who we want to be. What happens when the memories of those experiences can be manufactured, propagated, and shared as easy as a ‘gram is today?


Today you pay to connect. Tomorrow you’ll pay to disconnect.

Today you pay for experiences. Tomorrow you’ll pay for the memory of those experiences. And the day after that, you’ll pay to forget.

What if you could fall in love for the first time, again?

SDR Traveller http://janchipchase.com/2014/10/sdr-traveller/ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:52:17 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25246 Salar De Uyuni

I’m pleased to announce the launch of SDR Traveller and the D3 Duffel.

Some of you have seen glimpses of D3 prototypes over the past three years. It’s been my go-to luggage for extended travel – from Afghanistan to Brazil and and then some. Three years of hand luggage, a nuanced appreciation of context and place.

Bringing a product to life is of course a team effort: both in the workshop and through our global beta-testers. Thank-you to both.

This started out as a need for custom luggage that suited the kind of travel and contexts that you’ve seen documented on this site. It’s early days, but from the feedback we may have created something that goes well beyond that. Pay attention to the journey and the company you keep and the destination takes care of itself.

As a side note – the D3 photo shoot took place in Bolivia while scouting new projects for Studio D and acclimatising for an ascent on Huayna Potosi (only made it to alt 5.6k, beaten back by a storm, good excuse to go back). Didn’t expect the detour to the salt flats to be so photogenic.

Some of you have talked about taking your own product journey. My own journey was inspired by Abe at Outlier.

Bangladesh Textures http://janchipchase.com/2014/10/bangladesh-textures/ Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:06:50 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25232 20141012-Chittagong-0053

In Bangladesh for the week with a Studio D client. A lot of early mornings, deep dives and step backs.

Thanks to the Dhaha, Rashashi and Chittagong crews.

Looking forward to the movie.












Brass http://janchipchase.com/2014/10/brass/ Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:01:06 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25226 20141009-Rajshashi-0024

A surprising detail on a rickshaw – brass guard+

Inbound http://janchipchase.com/2014/10/inbound/ Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:55:05 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25227 Rashashi

En Route http://janchipchase.com/2014/10/en-route-2/ Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:00:52 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25222 Koln: en route

A private speaking gig in Koln, dropped off family in Berlin for a few days, and on to London.

Spent 30 minutes on the platform watching the wheeled hordes trundle by, and then this happened.

Connectivity is not binary, the network is never neutral. http://janchipchase.com/2014/09/connectivity-is-not-binary-the-network-is-never-neutral-2/ Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:54:49 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25203 20140802-Bogole-0052

It takes an hour to clear the Yangon traffic, and another two to reach Bogale, a small town at the edge of the Irrawaddy Delta. From there, depending on which village you are planning to visit, the captain requires up to three hours of skilful boatmanship to navigate the monsoon swollen tributaries before reaching landfall.

For our team field-testing a new financial service for poor farmers, it makes for a long working day (western looking foreigners are not allowed to stay overnight in the villages, and we’re a hybrid local and foreign crew so we need to return to a registered guesthouse in Bogale at the end of the day). I’m in the country to wrap up the project and scout what’s next.

I’ve been tracking life at the edge of the grid for more than a decade and although the challenges of connecting people sound the same, every trip offers up a new angle on what connectivity means to the locals: its impact on gender roles in India; the rise of love-marriages in Afghanistan; a more level playing field for favela dwellers in Brazil; a stable point of contact in Nigeria; the list goes on. Here in the delta some villages have a slither of cellular connectivity (rarely data), but many do not. Ask any of the farmers which person in the village has a mobile phone, and they’ll reel off the exact names: the novelty of ownership and shared use of devices is prevalent so it makes sense to maintain a spatial awareness of who has what. My hunch is that when device ownership hits 40 people in a village of 1,000, the need to track who has what becomes less important, it takes on an air of ubiquity.

In Bogale 2,500 Kyats ($2.5) will buy you a rechargeable battery that can power a home for two short nights. 40,000 Kyats ($40) will buy a new car battery, that can last for a month. In places with no or unstable electricity the spread mobile phones creates informal markets for power but it’s not cheap. “I won’t use my smartphone to watch videos if I know there is no electricity — it costs too much.” Ten dollars a month spent on power is out of the price range for a farmer earning $1.5 a day (yes solar is becoming more prevalent, but its not quite ready for this demographic). Here the cost of watching a movie on a smartphone, a use case that is prevalent elsewhere, is not measured by the cost of obtaining content but by the cost of replacing the power required to view that content.

Connectivity is not binary. The network is never neutral.


Two short flights from Yangon and you’re in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State. Despite this being an internal flight, an immigration official symbolically checks my passport on arrival. This is a restive region with years of fighting between the local Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and the Burmese army, although a ceasefire is expected soon.

The town sits at a cross-roads between India and China and lies well off the tourist trail. I’d originally planned to hire a driver and explore the road that runs between both countries but only a few places can be visited without a permit and many are off-limits. Extending the trip by a few days provides a chance to learn about a region our studio needs to better understand and to get back into the rhythm of writing. Myanmar has been universally friendly but there’s a slight edge on the streets as people size up the obvious foreigner in their midst. Smile, haircut and shave, play the tourist. Only at midnight does the heat subside to something manageable, and in a local bar an organist is entertaining Chinese businessmen on their third round of beers. They are most likely here for gold, teak or jade.

Conversations with local students echo what we’ve seen elsewhere in the country, high smartphone adoption (including many high-end devices) and significant peer to peer content sharing through Zapya. When you buy a new phone here it comes preloaded with whatever content you ask for, the only limit being the amount of memory you can afford. But there is still friction in the process. Most new, and therefore desirable content comes from VCD and DVDs (and tape cassettes!) and as one student put it “We don’t have internet at the university. We don’t even have computers”. Rip, burn, mix starts with a device that can play the media you want to rip from.

The cellular network was omnipresent in the town, but I didn’t managed to get a slither of data connectivity until the small hours. “The government restricts internet access here, it is a stronghold of the opposition.”

Connectivity is not binary. The network is never neutral.


Been reflecting on the goals of Internet.org after being on a panel with Javier Olivan.

On the surface it’s aims are laudable Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected, it is set up to serve people such as the farmers and students I’ve met on this trip, those who will significantly benefit from basic connectivity. The sentiment of my peers, including conversations with some Facebook employees is that Internet.org’s intent is closer to Every one of us. Everywhere. Connected to Facebook. Feeding the Beast, a solution to a growth strategy that was hitting natural limits, and a flag in the distant sands for stock-vested troops to charge towards.

I’ve been here before. At Nokia the commercial success of entry products (low cost devices, that at a rough estimate accumulatively sold close to 1.5 billion units) was turned into a “connecting people” story, and my team’s research providing a human angle to that arc. I’ve seen what gets exaggerated and by whom, and where the real and underreported impact lies.

What will be the impact of Internet.org?

It’s early days, but Facebook’s new app provides “free” internet access to a range of services, and will have significant appeal in the countries where it can cut a deal with operators. “Free” is a compelling proposition in any country. “Free” is utterly compelling proposition in highly resource constrained communities. But that’s only part of the story.

At Studio D we talk about “next billion clients”, organisations that are targeting lower middle class to the base of the pyramid consumers in so-called emerging markets. Many clients are significantly over optimistic of the value of their products, a few (including a number in Silicon Valley, that had significant success in other areas) are downright naive to the design choices they should make. As a creative consultancy we can add value in the usual ways: research, design and strategy. However, the place where the most work is needed is how our clients frame their relationship to these consumers. There’s a long way to go. Sometimes the journey starts with a ride out into the delta.

Bamboo Ladder http://janchipchase.com/2014/08/bamboo-ladder/ Sun, 17 Aug 2014 06:45:25 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25187 20140727-Myintkyina-0054


Colour Filters http://janchipchase.com/2014/08/colour-filter/ Sun, 17 Aug 2014 06:39:27 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25186 20140810-Yangon-0124

So much of urban Yangon light is filtered through sponsored cafe umbrellas – in this instance Pepsi and Coke. The rush to sponsor reminds me of East Berlin.

Textures http://janchipchase.com/2014/08/textures-5/ Sun, 10 Aug 2014 13:45:59 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25178 20140810-Yangon-0146


Commute http://janchipchase.com/2014/07/commute-2/ Mon, 28 Jul 2014 04:22:29 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25175 20000101-Myanmar-0023

Back in Myanmar scouting a new project.

A Data Science Experiment http://janchipchase.com/2014/07/a-data-science-experiment/ Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:43:34 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25167 Presentation: Academy Hills

Studio D Radiodurans works with creative thinkers, strategists and data scientists.

How would you design the following experiment?

Myanmar Photo Archive http://janchipchase.com/2014/05/myanmar-photo-archive/ Mon, 05 May 2014 19:01:15 +0000 http://janchipchase.com/?p=25155 AffordTwo,EatOne-Lashio-075-MonasteryLendingGroup

As part of the Afford Two, Eat One: Financial Inclusion in Rural Myanmar report deliverables we’ve decided to release over 200 photos for use under a creative commons license.

Browse the archive and download the images.


Now on with the next stage of the project.