Recent developments in design have brought about a lot of changes in the way design is approached by artists and corporate bodies. Design is basically the plan that forms the starting point for the making of every object or system in the artistic and professional fields and focuses on visual communication and presentation. Design is therefore a broad process and as a result it takes time to complete.
The traditional design process has typically been considered to take place in a series of stages. Pre-production design is the first stage where the design goals are established and analyzed. Research is then carried out to determine the practicality of the design in order to conceptualize and document design solutions and certify the specifications in preparation for presentation. The second stage is design through production where testing, maintenance and development of a designed solution take place.
The third stage is post-production design feedback where the designed solutions are introduced into the environment and constructive suggestions for improvements are taken into account. The final stage is redesign in which the design process is repeated and all the corrective measures are integrated to give a fully approved product.
Changes in Design have led to an overhaul in the way the design process is regarded and as such modern processes have emerged. This essay aims to examine the current procedures involved in design and the impact of these procedures to business and society.
Approach to design
Conventional design has heavily relied on innovation as an essential part to its sustainability and progress. Designers for a long time have struggled with the ideology of doing things differently in an attempt to come up with new and unique designs (Getlein, 2008, 15). Design has therefore been regarded as a “doing” practice for a long period without weighing the productivity of the process.
These design process models however do not present fundamental views into forthcoming situations rather are created to satisfy the prevailing circumstances (Caves 2000, 78). This is mainly due to the adoption of design systems which are rarely analytical or thorough. In addition, the situational study of these models has a tendency to be illustrative and therefore hardly ever offers the behavioral association between variables (Howkins 2001, 50).
To cancel out the irregularities observed in design innovation, latest developments have led to user innovation where consumers and end users of a product instead of the contractors take the lead role in design. According to (Saw 2002, 4), many products and services are currently developed or advanced by users during completion and application and the user input is sent back to the supply network.
Since products are developed to satisfy a wide variety of consumers, a few individual users experiencing difficulties with a product have an option to extend their own adjustments to an existing product, or fashion a completely new product to satisfy the unfulfilled needs of the few consumers (Mullins 2004, 61).
Also to be noted is that user innovators frequently share their thoughts and ideas with manufacturers of a certain product with the intent of creating a customized product via a process known as free revealing. One of the major advantages of user modernism is the fact that users are vitally social thus user innovation is jointly and a well socio-technically distributed innovation. Therefore, significant outputs are rarely deliberated by user and that deduces and formulates the meaning of emerging designs.
On the other hand, the emerging “thinking” approach to design known as design thinking has temporarily given the wrong idea about the overall design processes. Unlike user innovation which is consumer oriented, Design thinking is producer based where the designer uses his awareness and technique to meet the needs of the consumers through a technologically compatible and workable business strategy that can be transformed into customer value and a profitable business opportunity (Ullman 2009, 87).
Design thinking is therefore a practical market process aimed at resourceful problem solving with the intention of an enhanced potential outcome. It is a creative process that requires the designer to combine understanding, creativity and forethought in order to satisfy the needs of current and potential consumers so as to succeed from a business perspective (Caves 2000, 73).
As a consequence, design thinking is market driven hence bears a diverse baseline of objective ideas and is void of personal views. Designers are encouraged to think in a broader sense and be open minded thus no idea is considered poor or weak. This approach promotes maximum input and involvement by designers especially in the ideation and archetype phases and therefore the fear of failure is eliminated leading to a wealth of ideas and accordingly, solid profitable creative solutions (Saw 2002, 5).
Design thinking is especially evident in organizational management where it constitutes the Architecture, Design, Anthropology (ADA) paradigm, which exemplifies resourceful, creativity based ventures (Saw 2002, 3). Furthermore, design thinking centers on a joint and iterative approach to production and an adductive style of judgment (Getlein 2008, 18).
Integration of the “thinking” approach paradigms such as creative problem solving and mind mapping in the creative industry has allowed for a wider variety of economic activities pertaining to the production and utilization of knowledge and information to be established. Since creative industries are based on individual skills and talent, they have the potential to create wealth and employment through the development of intellectual property (Holm 2006, 26).
Examples of creative industries include architecture, advertising, music, performing arts, software, computer and video games, crafts, publishing, film and video, art and antique. Current advances in technology have allowed for a higher rate of expansion, growth and development in the creative industry.
Computer aided design (CAD & auto CAD) has generated new approaches in the design process. Graphical representation models which are easily manipulated are formed based on most fields of design such as video games, architecture, and publication. These models allow for both user innovation and design thinking ensuring that the eventual product is satisfactory to a wider consumer base (Caves 2000, 77).
Advertising in particular has made great advances as a component of the creative industry, as competition between organizations becomes more aggressive. Design has been engaged in various fields in synchrony with advertisement and as technology advances, more avenues for design are created. Multimedia platforms have been designed to advertise a particular product and what initially started as billboards and posters has currently culminated in large screen motion videos.
Other forms of design enhanced through technology are internet narrowcasting, 3 Dimension digital cinema, user interaction online video games among others (Holm 2006, 24). There is substantial scholastic curiosity in understanding design thinking or design cognition, including a series of conventions on research in design thinking (Holm 2006, 25).
Discipline aspect of design
Conventional design has been based on the understanding of designers and hence it has been studied from a production perspective. As indicated by (Howkins 2001, 53) dedicated study on design has led to disciplinary knowledge which has been correlated with intellectual disciplines and professions resulting in individuals referred to as professionals or experts in design.
Disciplinary industries in design are industries that are effectively related with both the design areas of study and areas of professional practice such as information, skills, individuals, ventures, communities, challenges, approaches, and research.
Disciplinary industries in design have however led to numerous predicaments within the design field since the existence of different professionals translates to different interpretations of design and as a consequence there is a problem in communication (Hesmondhalgh 2002, 98).
Disciplines in design have a tendency to develop in synch to systems of professions thus these disciplines and professions are subject to personalized knowledge along with the duty of authenticating emerging knowledge extensions in design. This limits the knowledge covered by design to a limited number of individual rather than globalizing it (Mullins 2004, 64). Therefore, ideas in design can be classified as either ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ which limits the reach and scope as well as the objectiveness of design(Saw 2002, 3).
On the other hand, generalists who study liberal arts or systems theory tend to disagree with the limitation of design, mainly because design is a global process which is evident in almost every aspect of life (Caves 2000, 72). Their argument is that other elements are indeed present in design making thus making it a dynamic process which cannot be limited to art or economics.
This concept has evolved into a call for cross-disciplinary collaboration which is far more efficient in covering design (Holm 2006, 27). Cross-disciplinary collaboration is essentially any technique, development and research activity that studies design outside the extent of its own discipline devoid of any assistance or integration from the other pertinent disciplines where the subject matter is revised through foreign methodologies of disparate disciplines (Getlein, 2008, 25).
Cross-disciplinary collaboration allows for the crossing of disciplinary confines though there is no transfer of methodologies techniques and principles or cooperation between the disciplines (Hesmondhalgh 2002, 99). Design is evolving to incorporate numerous other subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, economics, biology, geography, fashion and philosophy thus leaving design to personal taste.
It has been observed that designers share a universal set of key values such as creativity, content, curiosity, detail, cooperation and user oriented that compel novelty. With such similarities, designers find their viewpoint is applicable in numerous disciplines and as such it has evolved from disciplinary to Cross-disciplinary collaboration (Ullman 2009, 83).
Design in society
Currently, design is being applied in almost all fields of reality. In order for a building to be constructed, a design has to first be laid out on paper and approved.
This is the same with surgical procedures where doctors will first discuss the design in which they are going to carry out a certain medical procedure and this makes it important for like-minded designers to form an association and work together to enhance their skills and products (Howkins 2001, 56).
Due to the fact that different designers target and satisfy different markets, a product designed by a number of different designers is likely to generate a stronger impact in the market when compared to products designed by a single designer (Getlein 2008, 17).
Design thinkers and designers are in a unique position to fight economic and social ills through the advocating of repealing, drafting or editing of social policy. This is because designers have the advantage of numbers and are effective in creative problem solving in their work (Ullman 2009, 76).
In a broader scale however, design is closely responsible for the formation and growth of society (Holm 2006, 29). Every object within the society is produced through design and therefore design is responsible for setting the tone within the society.
Color for instance is thought to alter mood and when designing office spaces or rooms in homes, the color of such rooms will greatly determine the mental status of the occupants (Caves 2000, 81). Certain colors in the offices are suspected to enhance or reduce the performance and input of employees. Design is evident everywhere, in infrastructure, in clothes, in education and in machines (Ullman 2009, 89).
The broader responsibility of design to society is that it acts as a determinant to the effectiveness of the society (Howkins 2001, 53). For example, vicinities where houses are designed in a manner that there is enough space for parking cars, children playgrounds, and public parks among others are evidently more conducive and safer than environments where houses are packed together with little space between them.
Infrastructure design is also important to ensure effective and time efficient traffic systems that minimize the occurrence of accidents (Mullins 2004, 65).
In this regard, companies have established Design leadership which is establishing leadership in a company that is primarily responsible for creative problem solving and generating original design solutions and therefore design leadership aims at providing a leader whose achievements are motivated by design (Holm 2006, 27).
Design leaders have to undergo training for this form of leadership and are responsible for directing design investment and creating and cultivating an atmosphere of innovation. Technology based companies such as International Business Machine (IBM), Nokia, Dell, Philips Corporation and Compaq are all Design-led companies with design based business strategies (Caves 2000, 74).
A good example of design based strategy is OXO Inc., a design-led company working with New York-based Smart Design to produce a variety of kitchen and household tools known as Good Grips.
These products were designed to satisfy the needs of a wider consumer base through the incorporation of design and functionality into the products to enhance the appeal. Due to the fact that Smart Design works directly with users, it has been able to establish the users’ actual needs as well as identify some of the designs that the users would appreciate through user innovation (Getlein 2008, 23).
This strategy has enabled OXO Inc. to put up its brand values through prominent designs that demonstrate suitability in principle and thus OXO has been able to stay ahead of the competition in both design appearance and functionality and as a result OXO has grown by more than 30% annually since its establishment in the early 1990s.
Design in the modern society has taken a dynamic turn from traditional designer based products to user determined products. This has proven to be a solid design strategy with many organizations incorporating Design-led strategies into their business models. In addition, the outlook of design has been transformed from the common disciplinary industry to cross-disciplinary collaboration which allows design to borrow information from other disciplines to justify its application.
Design is a global practice and therefore should not be narrowed down to specific disciplines only. With the global appeal of design rising, organizations have been compelled to pave way for design based initiatives and as a consequence, design leadership has been established. Design is currently a significant entity in any company especially in long standing industries where competition is relatively intense.
Caves, Richard. 2000. Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce. New York: Harvard University Press.
Getlein, Mark. 2008. Living with Art. New York: Routledge.
Hesmondhalgh, David. 2002. The Cultural Industries. New York: SAGE.
Holm, Ivar. 2006. Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial design: How attitudes, orientations and underlying assumptions shape the built environment. Oslo: Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
Howkins, John. 2001. The Creative Economy: How People Make Money From Ideas. California: Penguin books.
Mullins, Johnson. 2004. Management and organizational behavior. London: Pitman Publishing.
Saw, James.2002. “Part III: The Design Process.” July 2000 http://daphne.palomar.edu/design/dprocess.html (accessed April 1, 2004)
Ullman, David. 2009. The Mechanical Design Process. London: Mc Graw Hill.
Links for References
1.) Caves, Richard. 2000. Creative Industries: Contracts between Art and Commerce
2.) Hesmondhalgh, David. 2002. The Cultural Industries
3.) Holm, Ivar. 2006. Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial design: How attitudes, orientations and underlying assumptions shape the built environment