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COOOP In Practice
COOOP In Practice

Article 53

COOOP In Practice

COOOP In Practice

Design Comes Last, People Come First

Design For Behaviour

  • Interior
  • Residential

29 Nov 2023

Principal Architect

Roberto Zambri

Senior Associate

Calvin Janse van Vuuren
Design comes last, People come first.

Calvin Janse van Vuuren - Senior Associate

Founded in South Africa in 1997, Design Partnership, led by Callie van der Merwe, set a new precedent in architecture, branding, and interior design. Evolving into COOOP in 2023, with its wings spread across Australia and Dubai, the studio has remained steadfast in its mission to design human-centered spaces. Programa has been a witness to this transformative journey, observing how COOOP embeds a culture of trust, openness, and the philosophy that “Design comes last, People come first.”

COOOP’s unique methodology, dubbed “Design for Behaviour,” draws from the groundbreaking field of neuro-architecture. This approach marries design with human emotional and cognitive responses, creating spaces that not only appeal aesthetically but also resonate on a deeper, behavioural level. This pioneering strategy has not only garnered industry accolades but will also be the focus of an upcoming television documentary.

The studio’s approach to sustainability transcends traditional concepts. COOOP’s designs are not just about the materials used; they’re about the lifespan of the projects and a commitment to sourcing locally. This philosophy ensures a balance between creativity and functionality, offering solutions that are both emotionally engaging and practically sound.

Utilising the Web Clipper for capturing specifications has been a significant advantage. We've grown accustomed to its speed and efficiency. Clipping, rather than manually typing out specifications, has noticeably quickened our render briefs and project documentation stages.

Roberto Zambri - Principal Architect

Design for Behaviour: COOOP’s Signature Method

COOOP’s signature “Design for Behaviour” method marries Design Thinking with Behavioural Design. It’s a deep dive into understanding and responding to human behaviors in social spaces, enabling the creation of environments that encourage desired behaviors, such as longer stays or repeat visits, particularly in hospitality settings.

This method, while focused on functionality, does not shy away from creativity. It involves an intuitive leap into the creative abyss, ensuring designs are not just practical but also emotionally compelling. This balance of creativity and functionality is a testament to COOOP’s commitment to designing spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but also meaningful and sustainable.

In Roberto Zambri’s words, “Design for behaviour is a powerful tool that can help any business owner reduce their risks and build more financially robust businesses.” This statement encapsulates COOOP’s philosophy where design is not just an art form but a strategic tool for creating sustainable, profitable, and emotionally resonant spaces.

COOOP’s journey, marked by innovative design practices, collaborative culture, and a forward-thinking approach to sustainability, serves as a beacon in interior design. Their story is one of relentless pursuit of design excellence, where people always come first, and the beauty of a space is a reflection of its human-centric design.

Programa has become a central hub for all project-related information, simplifying collaboration and communication. Its role in facilitating interactions among team members, clients, and suppliers has led to improved project management and coordination.

Roberto Zambri - Principal Architect

Programa in COOOP’s Current Operations

Since integrating Programa into their operations, COOOP has experienced a revolution in project management and workflow efficiency. Programa serves as a centralised system for managing specifications, tasks, and time tracking, streamlining the journey from design conception to construction. This integration has significantly reduced the time dedicated to technical drawing specifications, enabling quicker material approvals and modifications, thereby accelerating project timelines.

A testament to Programa’s impact is evident in a recent restaurant project undertaken by COOOP (To be released soon). From initial design briefings to material specifications, Programa’s live update feature allowed for swift management of changes, ensuring a seamless workflow and enhanced transparency throughout the project lifecycle.

Our international teams appreciate the effectiveness of Programa's Schedules, especially the convenience of having our suppliers' contact information and direct links to products on their websites.

Calvin Janse van Vuuren - Senior Associate

Enhancing Client Communications with Programa

The integration of Programa’s Client Dashboard has markedly improved COOOP’s communication with clients, particularly in projects spanning Australia and the Middle East. Its live functionality provides up-to-date schedules and fosters efficient interactions, enhancing transparency and streamlining the decision-making process.

The Address Book has been crucial in consolidating all our trusted suppliers into one easily accessible location. It has transformed our database from being scattered across various business cards, cell phones, and notebooks to being online and up-to-date.

Roberto Zambri

Cultivating a Collaborative and Creative Studio Culture

At the core of COOOP’s studio culture is a deep-seated commitment to trust, respect, and collaboration. This ethos is fundamental in creating spaces that resonate with users on an emotional level. Collaboration is not just a practice but the heartbeat of COOOP’s operations, engaging clients, co-creators, and contractors in a journey that prioritises human experience above all.


The real test for us will come when we use this for the hotel and luxury skyscraper projects we're working on. It will be a game changer, as for these types of buildings we usually submit packs of printed schedules, which are hard to manage efficiently on such large-scale projects.

Roberto Zambri - Principal Architect

The simplicity of the schedules really makes a difference for us. They've helped in simplifying and streamlining our drawing standards, making them easier to manage across various projects.

Calvin Janse van Vuuren - Senior Associate

Set your studio’s processes in stone with Programa, project management tools built by & for interior designers. Start free.

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