Moving Forward Together: Introducing Hugo

Our world is quickly changing. New ideas, emerging technologies, lifestyle shifts, and environmental pressures demand the constant evolution of the way we live. From schools and hospitals to the workplace and airport terminals, these concurrent forces give way to new typologies and redefine the ways we engage with the world around us and our expectations of design.

For more than 80 years, Corgan has unlocked the possibilities of layered innovations, social changes, and new technologies with an agility to anticipate and respond to future trends and challenges—inventing new experiences that make the impossible, possible. In the midst of seismic changes, our data-driven research and human-centric approach reveal insights to see what others don’t, make connections across our several markets, and generate critical solutions and ideas.

As today’s expression of that same drive to break new ground, Corgan is creating a new platform to lead an ongoing investigation into the future: Hugo. Hugo is an outgrowth of the decades of discovery behind Corgan innovations such as our wayfinding experiment to enhance intuitive user-navigation, the age simulation suit to develop empathy in designing airports for aging passengers, light therapy experiments, and the UberAir Skyport design concept to imagine the future of urban transit.


What is Hugo?

Let’s start with what it’s not. Hugo is not a place. It’s not an elite team.

Instead, Hugo is virtual space representing the firm’s pervasive ethos of discovery and insatiable curiosity.

Named after the birthplace of our founder, Jack Corgan, Hugo represents the birthplace of ideas and innovation—the spark and source of our sense of wonder and creativity.

Hugo builds on Corgan’s passion for elevating design research around the personal, human experience. It’s a firm-wide initiative where Corgan and our partners share ideas and embrace change. It’s a resource and testing ground to investigate and explore breakthrough technologies and emerging markets. It’s a purposeful, research-driven approach that allows us to pioneer for our clients—looking forward and toward the future innovations that will change our industries and the way we design.

From moonshot research where we challenge ourselves to find radical solutions for the most impossible questions facing our world to pressing forward on specific, project work to understand the full-lifecycle and value of the spaces, Hugo always asks why before asking how.

Hugo taps into the powerful potential of a network of industries—extrapolating insights and connecting ideas across our practice areas, offices and connecting Corgan with experts in software development, cognitive neuroscience, space exploration, and everyone in between. Visioning sessions, focused sprints, and a repository of research and trend reports empowers Corgan and our clients with real-world applications and actionable solutions that can stand the test of time.

Keeping up with Hugo

Building out a repository of past research, 360° VR experiences, project-specific explorations, software experimentation, app development, digital twins, virtual test labs and moonshot research, Hugo has also started to look toward our next big projects including a partnership with Kansas University’s Smart cities Institute, developing products for the future airport, and thinking about the impact of IoT, machine learning, and AI on architecture and design.

Hugo explorations like these empower Corgan and our clients with the tools to see beyond today and visualize tomorrow—to openly exchange ideas, explore the fullest range of possibilities and innovations, develop a high-level vision with deep insights and analysis, and tap into a powerful network of experts across several industries. Believing bright ideas are everywhere and sometimes where you may least expect them, Hugo is a firm-wide initiative that invites all practice areas, roles, and positions to pursue their wildest ideas and most innovative solutions to press deeper into their work and into the heart of their projects.

At times, finding the best product, design, or solution may require experts outside of our practice and when it does, Hugo activates and connects clients to a network of strategic groups and leading specialists to create a collaborative group with the right people and resources to tackle a project. More than collaboration, this is the flexibility and agility that gives our clients comprehensive, novel solutions that move us forward together.

What if we can change how people experience the world?

Excerpt from the Hugo Manifesto:

Our goal is to give design a purpose.   

We interrogate situations, discover opportunities, develop intuitive solutions, and create novel experiences through exploration.

We intentionally chase ideas and challenges outside of our comfort zone, proactively confronting the hardest, most vital questions facing our profession and our culture.  

We believe that design and purposeful innovation are the most powerful instruments of change. And we believe that the best design can only come from an empathetic understanding of the human experience.   

We strive for immediacy of use, not slick perfection. 

Here at Corgan, we are a band of self-starters who love to put our minds together to spark new ideas. We are thought provocateurs. We are seekers and students. 

We are disruptors. 

We are designers. 

And together, 


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