How can businesses take leadership of population health?

How can companies take leadership in improving population health through their business and design objectives? Do corporations have the propensity for health leadership inside and outside their organisations? 

I'm currently curious how health is being perceived by companies and how it might be considered within their business objectives to affect health among employees and within society.

The following research proposed by BSR in this article got me started thinking about the role businesses can play in improving population health. Based on the article, here are some questions I'm hoping to pose as I continue my project on Health Leadership & Planning:

  • What's your company's health agenda for the greater society, beyond occupational health and safety within the company?

  • How does your company view health? Can health and wellness be framed as a broader stakeholder and value chain issue?

  • Which stakeholders can companies engage with to address the larger,systemic challenge of population health?


The oldest tool known to mankind is the axe. It is a powerful tool that resembles survival and productivity. In 2009, the axe became more than a tool through the Best Made brand- a brand of handcrafted, American-made axes allowing us to appreciate the simple nuances of life that is often lost in our everyday lives. In a time where the tap of our fingers can bring groceries, clothes and entertainment to our door step, Best Made hopes to inspire life outside the home by making high-quality axes for people to get outside and use their hands. The lifestyle brand also carries a range of related outdoor products, such as camping cups, first-aid kits, knives, soap and homemade syrup just to name a few. As a brand dedicated to bringing back a sense of adventure into our lives, Best Made reminds us of our origins and our inherit human needs for food, shelter and protection.

Beyond addressing this tactile need for handcrafted goods in a digital world, Best Made axes stood tall with pride for American-made products in a market driven by foreign manufacturing. ‘Made in U.S.A’ is an unusual label in American retail and lifestyle products, but we’re able to find hope and pride through the Best Made brand since its inception in 2009. It is a brand that brings to surface the American value of being self-sufficient through the creation of fine axes, each made with these four virtues in mind: Courage, Compassion, Grace and Fortitude (C.C.G.F). These are coined as ‘The Famous Four,’ the four virtues Best Made aspires to live up to every day. Axes are adorned with one of these virtues along with a coat of bold colored paint at the handle as an act of respect for the tool. It is in the brand’s aspirational character that allows people to believe in something together, representing the potential behind American-made products.

When we flip over a clothing tag, we used to assume an American brand would be made in the U.S.A, but more often than not, we find brands such as Gap, Ralph Lauren and Nike made in China or elsewhere. So, what does it mean to create from local resources? Is a brand perceived differently when made from its own kind? This idea of creating from local resources takes us to the ‘locavore’ trend, identified by those who eat foods that are locally produced. Restaurants have adopted this trend by calling themselves ‘farm-to-table’ restaurants, which have become widely popular for maintaining and utilizing their own vegetable gardens. Being able to eat a dish knowing the beats and carrots were grown in their very own garden is reassuring, and it reminds you of the importance of origins. In the same way, to use an axe knowing where and how it was made and from what material, is all part of the axing experience.

To have a tool created from its surrounding resources not only adds to the resourcefulness of the tool’s creation but it also shows how Best Made axes are self-sufficient products- created without external resources. When brands like Best Made can shine and take pride in their product origins, so much so that it lives and breathes a set of meaningful virtues of courage, compassion, grace and fortitude, that is when a brand can truly become an inspiration unto others. It allows people to believe not only in the brand itself but most importantly, in themselves.

Confessions of an 'Unhealthy' Profession

How can we inspire Health Leadership & Planning across professions that are compromising the health of their professionals?

As my final project at the RCA, I am looking at health and its role across professions along with how that might transpire across the business objectives of corporations to create value for society. The initial provocations are taking place at the Work in Progress show to gain a better understanding of how people view health in the work[place].


Yotel is a hi-fi self-service hotel with a modern futuristic flare, taking the world of hospitality to the next level; it’s Hospitality 2.0! As you step into the lobby, you’re greeted by a row of kiosks that will check you in. There is also a self-service concierge, if you will, called the Yobot. This robotic arm encased behind a glass wall sorts through the stored luggage and manages to ‘vend’ your suitcase/bag.We’re seeing technology stand in the shoes of people through the Yotel brand; perhaps this is a way to recognize the humanization of technology, where machines are becoming ‘smart’ enough to mimic the services normally executed by us, people. This is a manifestation of the technological immersions within humanity, continuing to be integrated into culture and commerce.

The Yotel brand is at the intersection of global futurism and modernity. Hints of modern Japanese culture is expressed through intimate experiences such as the low seating throughout the restaurant dining tables; the restaurant space also transforms into a ‘Dohyo,’ a classic sumo wrestling ring, giving the hotel a sense of dynamism and timelessness. While Yotel is heavier on the futuristic expression, it has yet a dynamic and modular interior that allows for a wide range of ambiances.


One of Camper's retail stores in SOHO, at the corner of Prince and Greene Streets, creates an open environment without the typical retail look. At first glance from the entrance of the retail store, we see 'Camper' plastered across the entirety of the wall, until you walk into the space and soon discover an expansive shelving of shoes built to only be seen from the opposite angle.

Designed by Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, this retail store touts its open-space environment along with its roof made of Ban’s signature paper tubing. The retail store has been dubbed the ‘House of Shoes’ due to its inviting space and Japanese paper-sensation found along the seats in the middle of the space and the paper tubing on the roof. What’s interesting, is that the design of this space places ‘people’ at the center of the experience, rather than the products themselves. It’s about having people become the focus, and the shoes tending to the needs of each individual.

The only downside to the wall structure is its deceiving nature. From afar, the shoe store doesn't look like it's got shoes to sell! The products are not featured! Customers have stepped in a few steps only to turn away from what looks to be a large open space without any sign of retail. This is a prime example of the push and pull between art and commerce.