Understanding the evolution of design

If you are interested in understanding the role of design in the I-Cubed Economy, check out Bruce Nussbaum’s blog. And no, we are not just talking about fancy products like the iPod and the iPhone. Design thinking is becoming a model for business thinking and engineering. Nussbaum explains in one of his most recent posting – Why is The New York Times So Dumb About Design And Innovation?:

It’s not that the article is bad–it’s a nice discussion about how back-end process innovation is often key to the success of products. The problem is the rarity of this kind of piece in the NYT. Design in the Times is still mostly about style, aesthetics and fashion. Glitzy, cool stuff with skinny models and empty, but beautiful homes. Coverage of design in the Times is a throwback to, what, the 50’s? The entire evolution of design out of simple form to process, methods, strategy and more just isn’t in the newspaper.

That evolution of design is much of what Nussbaum talks about and tracks.
Another good source is the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) – Institute of Design. They recently hosted a conference on design. Here is what one of the speakers from the UK Design Council talks about – ABSTRACT: Trust me, I’m a Designer: How Design Research Can Influence Businesses, Governments and Policy Makers?:

Governments increasingly recognise the need to move their economies from low-value, commodity products and services towards differentiated, added-value production. In turn, businesses understand that competing principally on price is a losing game. More and more business leaders and policy makers also see design as a strategic business process that helps to identify and meet real user needs.

Some time ago I did a piece on how the UK is moving in this direction, while the US still doesn’t get it (see UK Leads; US Lags). US business gets it, but public policy (and public understanding) is still far behind — as Nussbaum’s critique of the New York Times shows. We need to turn that around.

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