Sensemaking means to develop a sensitivity towards meaningful differences. It’s an immersive, contextual and sensorial approach compared to algorithms in no-mans-land. The beating heart of Curiosity Shop is human insights, achieved through ethnographic research or mixed methods. The aim is to support innovation, development and decision-making.


Explorative capability (aka curiosity)

Stargazing in the Atacama desert

All organisms develop and adapt by sensing their environment. Why would organisations be different? Explorative capability is about discovering and choosing better alternatives to increase value. It’s not about being right but being able to perceive, adapt and respond in new ways.

In practice, this means being in touch with the outside world in order to intercept weak signals and to generate more hypotheses, approaches, ideas and alternatives. 

Anthropologists study the present shaped by the past, to inform the future. For 2 decades, Curiosity Shop’s founder Erika, (dressed in her consultant costume) immersed herself in diverse lifeworlds and cultures to understand interrelated human experiences, needs, habits, and unspoken desires in an increasingly unpredictable socio-cultural landscape. These insights were usually distilled into guidelines for (social) innovation, product, brand and service development, strategy and more.

But seriously, rather than occasionally hiring consultants to do market research, wouldn’t it be better if organisations were more response-able and constantly in touch with their rapidly changing reality? We’d rather train people and organisations to become curious anthropologists :).

A selection of projects

Everyday Health

How do consumers take charge of their everyday health in an era where experts have been replaced by Google and nothing seems really legit anymore? During 2020 Curiosity Shop was involved in a project exploring the world of Everyday Health in partnership with ReD Associates in Copenhagen for Karo Pharma. Through ethnographic research, some of the more hidden aspects were unearthed.

The Informed Consumer

The Informed Consumer study conducted by design agency Kuudes in partnership with Curiosity Shop and professor Arto O. Salonen revealed that the meaning of responsible consumption have changed. Responsible consumption is not necessary just about sacrifices, but can also contribute to one’s own happiness. Ethical choices are made in order to find inner balance, not as a response to external pressure. This is good news for business as well – consumers are willing to invest in happiness much more than making up for a guilty conscience.

Quote from Kuudes blog:
“At the Swedish Informed Consumer study launch event, the talented anthropologist Erika Tanos asked us to close our eyes and imagine the people she was describing. She asked us to imagine what they might look like, how they might have decorated their homes and how they might relate to people around them. Even though we had our eyes closed it was an eye-opening experience for many. The people Erika talked about felt real and close. It felt like we would have been there in their homes with Erika.”

Reimagening markets with Gemic

Early 2016, Curiosity Shop started to collaborate with Finnish innovation and strategy consultancy Gemic and has since then carried out ethnographic research, trend spotting, co-creation & analysis sessions in Sweden for several exciting projects.

Gemic explore transformative ways to re-articulate industry and category boundaries from a human perspective. Forward looking companies partner with them to reimagine their role in peoples lives.