When asked to explain what he does, Brad Rossacci answers with the simple phrase, "I design experiences." It's a deceptive sentence, as what Rossacci and 900lbs of Creative do is anything but simple. The innovation lab and creative marketing design studio boasts an impressive roster of clients and projects, all of which use these interactive experiences to help tell a story.
"Innovation is designed to advance the human experience, yet it defaults to solution design and often ignores the most critical factor of design: the human being," Rossacci says.
900lbs' collective of experiential designers, interactive artists, and visual content developers use such cool tech toys as virtual reality and augmented reality to help Fortune 500 companies "disrupt" their message — meaning tell it in such an unusual way that both internal employees and outside customers will have a hard time forgetting it.
One such example is what 900lbs designed for a national leadership organization, which wanted a dynamic, immersive environment for the people who visit its leadership lab. Rossacci and his team took activity-based learning and kicked it up a few notches, creating a cinematic, virtual-reality game where the user immediately entered the 3-D landscape of this "world" and had to solve challenges and go on adventures in order to "win."
"My primary goal with 900lbs was to bring neuroscience and design to companies," says Rossacci, "but my 'Mars shot' goal is always to go where we haven't been yet."
Though Rossacci didn't come on board as director of innovation until about three years ago, 900lbs has been combining science, technology, and design since 2009. It already had a Dallas office, but recently opened an innovation lab in Houston's East End to help tackle its ever-growing list of national and global clients.
"We are huge believers in Houston’s dynamic environment," he says. "Healthcare, NASA, oil and gas — it's all here. But I'm excited about the opportunity to drive that needle even further, to re-imagine what it means to work in the innovation industry, and to show how science and tech and design are the tools to drive it all forward."
The practical solutions of what 900lbs does are especially apparent with such industries as oil and gas, where it's not always feasible for someone to actually visit, touch, or experience a key part of the process. So the 900lbs team virtually transported them there, doing 360-degree film mapping of a location in the Permian Basin and making it as accessible as navigating an iPad. Embedded interactive hot spots let you watch a video about training or learn how to use vital tools before ever setting foot outside the home office.
"We can use effective design, coupled with tech, to truly make the human experience much simpler, and a better experience overall," Rossacci says. "Just as we're changing what technology and design can do together, the growing startup community is re-branding what Houston is. We're excited to be a part of that ecosystem."