Ioanna Elabd

Ioanna is the heart of Wabi & Sabi, Inc., a brand intelligence and innovation strategy consultancy dedicated to architecting meaningful dialogues and transformative human-centered experiences that resonate and inspire action at the speed of culture.

Starting out as a Cornell University architecture graduate with a beginner’s mind ―restless and forever curious― she wanted to investigate the interplay of disciplines and how they inform each other. Her deep interest in the intersection of education, culture, design and human interaction, along with their ability to exponentially affect and even shape each other, led her from designing structures, to movie-sets, to building experiences. She is known for her hands-on, sometimes unconventional methodologies and her innate ability to unlock opportunity through divergent thinking and synthetic doing ―often by making connections others miss. She believes that design and communication are powerful, exciting, and important and that part of creating, is rejecting the ordinary, the tried, and the safe. Her process is agile, adaptive, and focused on managing complexity efficiently, by asking the right whys and understanding the underlying values hidden behind human needs. Her goal is to build and foster lasting emotional connections that empower at every touchpoint.

Driven by her passion to help businesses and organizations transform from for profit to for “Massive Transformative Purpose”and turn their vision into sustained profitable growth, systemic social innovation and impact ―she splits her time between the US and Greece working only on projects she believes in. For her, ‘brands are people and people are brands, so designing for them must be intuitive, of a kind, imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete’. She insists that lifelong learning, engagement and interactivity are key ―optimism is vital and authenticity and collaboration are everything. Over the past 15+ years she has been devising ideas, comprehensive cross-platform strategies and programs, for brands and organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Her clients range from individuals, startups and SMEs,to municipalities and fortune 500 companies in need of reinventing themselves on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2016her company was selected to takeonthe complex task of helping theNational Library of Greece prepare for its historical transition to its new home at theStavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center,in Athens. She has been working closely with the NLGever sinceon multiple levels, to restructure the organization, re-imagine its role in society, and develop its new identity, services, programming and outreach strategy. Her tools of choice ―interdisciplinary participatory processes with an emphasis on systems thinking, interaction and service design.

The challenge: How do you propel a National Library from the 1900s to the future and transform it into a space that becomes a living cell of Hellenism, co-creativity, collaborationandco-learning? What if you design a context that is unfinished and open? Can it become a sort of catalyst ―an amplifier for activation and empowerment, giving users the space to offertheir input―to inhabitit, co-creating within itand ultimately playinga key role in regenerating it?

The SNFCC is the first public-private partnership of its kind in Greece, and the largest cultural/ educational project ever undertaken in the country.