What’s next for Design? Do we really care?

What’s next for Design? Do we really care?

In a recent interview with Tim Brown, Chairman of IDEO (the famous Silicon Valley Innovation and Creativity Agency, committed to delivering positive impact), my co-national Mauro Porcini (PepsiCo Chief Design Officer) asked him: “How does one become like Tim Brown?” Find out more by reading this article.

Lots of determination, a sprinkle of fortune (which never hurts, right?) and a passion for your job… or perhaps I should call it your mission? – he tells us, seem to be the winning recipe. But there is an additional piece of advice here that can lead to a successful outcome: you should try and associate yourself with people who inspire you. And in doing so, you must apply a growth mind set, leaving the fixed mindset behind you if you really want to immerse yourself into the flow of your design work. You must be willing to learn from others and from your experiences.

Often the word “design” gets coupled with the word “thinking” to give birth to a business philosophy referred to as “design-thinking”, a well-known approach that enables breakthrough innovation. But is design thinking only a business philosophy; is it only in the world of business that we can make use of such an approach? Not really, says Tim. We can apply design-thinking to literally any life problem, the approach having infinite adoptions within the most disparate walks of life, private and corporate alike. In fact, without even realizing, we all step indivertibly into design mode whenever we need to resolve a problem or meet our needs.

Within this concept definition, we all should turn into intentional designers. We need to democratize design-thinking as a mass movement rather than a discipline reserved to the few, or the most talented elite like some would have us believe.

Can we all have a go at it?

Simply put, yes we all can. But there are people who are more prone towards design than others. What then makes the difference? Designers are people interested in the world around us. Curious about what the future holds and passionate about shaping that future around them. As Mauro has often stated, designers are also “people in love with people”. Because after all design-thinking enables change for the benefit and for the love of people.

The designer must love people because the nature of the design work means that he/she must integrate various disciplines to come up with a solution; and to do so, we must work with people. It’s a human outcome that is being sought after all, to be enjoyed by people, where creativity engenders a positive impact in the community. Attraction to exploring new ideas, interest in the future, and ability to ask the right question to incite the creative inspiration in others are all attributes of successful designers.

One area where design-thinking needs to be desperately applied for example, is the environment. The Industrial Revolution has given humanity so much progress; but it has done so through a “linear” production, where extraction-usage-dispose has typically been the three-step process. Designers must come up with a different way, and the so-called “circular economy” seems to be a plausible answer. We need innovation in materials, in manufacturing and in recycling moving the dials from being “fragile” and vulnerable society to one that becomes increasingly “abundant”.

Yet, curiosity and optimism (not to be confused with utopianism) are essential traits with which to start the ideation process. You have to be optimistic, or else you’ll never start.

Finally, a good designer must learn how to face failure on multiple occasions, without giving up. It is because we fail over and over and over again that we actually succeed.

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