Hyper Island, Making the Impossible Possible [Roadtrip Series]

Every now and then we stumble upon something special when it comes to #TheMerge of design and fashion with technology. 

Last month I spoke in Stockholm, at a former Ericsson factory (yes, the mobile phone company that builds telecom infrastructures for countries now) that has turned into a post-industrial design centre located at Telefonplan. Now the global head office of Hyper Island, the building is home to a digital learning organization that offers educational programs, business innovation consulting and courses that teach students and industry professionals about the ‘digital’ changes in society.

Hyper Island Global Head Office in Telefonplan, Stockholm
Hyper Island Global Head Office in Telefonplan, Stockholm

After my talk about the importance of applying simplification and empathy while merging design with technology, I was introduced to several teams of students. As I mingled with them, I was given the opportunity to be part of brainstorming sessions with five groups of students whose objective was simple but intriguing. The students were given a brief that required them to come up with an idea that would allow them to connect a high end product to the Internet of Things. Following a discussion within their groups, they then had to pitch their idea to an interesting mix of clients from award winning Swedish start-up company Neue Labs. The clients included The Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), Fjällräven (an outdoor apparel and backpack company since the 1950’s), Henzel Studio (High end Luxury and contemporary art rug brand), DRKN (Fashion brand for gamers) and Magnea (a wearable tech sensor company in the digital health sector).

The AUTOMAT Toolkit by Startup Neue Labs
The AUTOMAT Toolkit by Startup Neue Labs

Before they could pitch their idea, the five groups were given the opportunity to bring their idea to life. In order to do this the freshly graduated designers and engineers were handed a toolkit called AUTOMAT. Made by Neue Labs, the toolkit is a range of small print circuitry boards (PCB) that can be used for building platform and protocol solutions which should enable the students to come up with ideas for clients who are looking for new ways to make technology work for their customers. Under the supervision of Neue Labs CEO Fredrik Timour and other in-house engineers, the students were then left to their own devices with the task to build a tailor made solution that will add value.


In the case of SAS, they are currently exploring the kind of wearable technology that will enhance their customer experience. Through their own SAS Lab they are looking to change the future of the whole travel industry with the help of AUTOMAT. On this SAS Head of innovation Massimo Pascotto is looking to reinforce the company’s position as “one of the most innovative airlines in the world.” He believes that, “Innovation is doing something radically different that has an actual impact. Without impact there is no innovation.” 

Hyper Island's Brainstorming Sessions
Hyper Island’s Brainstorming Sessions

During the brainstorming sessions with the students, I felt like I was on the front line of innovation as I listened to them discuss how they would go about making the kind of technology that would be more easily adopted by the masses. Neue Labs CEO Fredrik, who was overseeing the process, made himself available to answer questions from the students who were struggling with the different tasks at hand. He readily gave them hands on advice about the limitations they faced, and offered suggestions, solutions and short cuts to solving problems that would keep things simple.

Whilst I was there, I was able to sit down with Johan Eriksson, the program manager at Hyper Island. As we sat down to talk, he briefly brought me up to par on the history behind the education centre. Through our conversation, I found out that Hyper island was founded in an old prison on the Swedish island called Karlskrona. The founders Lars Lundh, Jonathan Briggs and David Erixon were driven by the knowledge that the speed of technological advance has the potential to create challenges for any educational system to keep up. So they set up an institute that focused on teaching students the ‘hyper methodology’, which is learning by doing.

The Student's Idea board at Hyper Island
The Student’s Idea board at Hyper Island

Johan told me about Hyper Island’s different types of teaching methods designed to equip students with the tools they require to function successfully in a fast and ever changing environment. He also shared, “Our hyper methodology touches on many key areas like giving and receiving feedback, increase understanding of group dynamics and vocational training.” He continued,“Many graduates experience that after completion of their university there is still so much to learn. In the field of their problem solving-thinking, emotional intelligence and how to adapt to a new company culture.” The statistics are backing up the value that Hyper Island offers. With 98 per cent of the students finding jobs in the field that they would like to work in, the Institute stands out. Hyper Island’s way of thinking is definitely of great value to their students, who by the time they graduate are part of a community that allows them to bounce off each other as they try to find their way in the professional world.

My road trip to Hyper Island in Stockholm was a great experience. In 24 hours I was able to witness how an interesting concept of collaboration between startups, enterprises and students could work. It all comes down to putting youngsters in a position to create the future, because after all, they are the superstars that will be responsible for designing our lives.

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The FashNerd team’s Roadtrip Series takes readers on a journey that explores the person behind the accomplishments. Be sure to catch up on previous articles.  

Founding Managing Editor at FashNerd.com | mano@fashnerd.com

FashionTech Consultant, Freethinking Opportunist Hero, Aspiring to Inspire. Wearobot Groupie with a Tech for Passion. Contributed to Wired.com. Founder of WearableGuru.com Founding Managing Editor FashNerd.com