Friday, 15 January 2010

design: by all? - day 2, first part

this is the third of four parts with my notes on the event about design promotion and design policies in the european union, organized by apci under the competent coordination of jean schneider on 11 and 12 january 2010. see the first two parts on my previous posts.

the second day - morning:

yves robin, from the french ministry of the economy, industry and employment, at the opening address of the the second day stressed the highest importance of design as an innovation tool quoting the recent document issued by the european union – design as a driver of user-centered innovation – as well as the actions taken by the french government to promote design awareness, specially aiming at smes, as well as the fostering of quality training and research on the field in universities at all levels, from basic to postgraduate and continuing education.

the initial statement was followed by an industry cases panel, chaired by darragh murphy, from pdr, the national centre for product design & development research at the university of wales, cardiff.

the three speakers – from large companies based respectively in france, united states and germany - talked about innovation in industry in times of crisis. the first was thomas bertin-mourot, managing director of quantum glass, a division of saint-gobin, one of the most traditional (and old) glass industries in the world. his division is developing products that challenge the glass industry and find new or renewed uses for glass allied or incorporating lighting and other technologies – with surprising results (check their website).

his presentation was followed by patrick mcgowan, art director from ibm lotus software user experience design, who talked about his process of work and his beliefs – as that “designers can establish intrinsic business values by de-mystifying and actively sharing process with non-designers.” and also that “it is through the lens of design thinking that value and quality are added to projects.” as everyone did during the conference, he advocated the importance of the co-design process within the industry as well, to create stronger design awareness.

robert sachon, head of brand design at bosch-siemens group, was the last of the representatives from industry to talk, emphasizing that good brands perform even on bad times. he quoted a phrase from robert bosch, founder of the company – “i would rather loose money than the trust of my customers” – to highlight the compromise of the company with its principles of integrity in all company actions, product quality and socially responsible behaviour. robert also presented some aspects of the global design philosophy of the company, and numbers to support the performance of the company that kept on the top of the market even during the world crisis.

darragh murphy, the chair of the panel, followed talking also about industry performance in times of crisis. he took examples from the design management europe award, comparing the performance of companies that won the award in 2008 poiting that despite the crisis most of the companies showed positive results in 2009, and that the decisions on design strategy were not necessarily tied to their turnover, showing companies that, nonetheless their descent turnovers, kept investing the same in design and others that, even doesn’t showing any growth in 2009, raised the investments in design. his conclusions: “where design is a supportive activity, companies invest in design according to their performance”, and “where design is a core activity, companies invest heavily in design to overcome poor performance”.

the second day - afternoon:

the session in the afternoon of the second day was chaired by jean schneider, and had begun with the presentation from the representative of the 27th region, stéphane vincent, about territories in residences: design and the co-conception of public policies. the name 27th region is a word game with the french geo-political division in 26 regions, and is a project to “hack” design inside policy planning, according to stéphane. the ngo will launch next april a book entitled design des politiques publiques, about the design of public policies (and not of public design policies), and how to cope with new social demands and empowerment of citizens and communities to make their voice heard. their project territories en residences brings a team of specialists to live in a region / community during 3 months, working with locals to find new ways to deal with their demands.

next speaker was pelle ehn, professor from the university of malmö, sweden, with “design things – social innovation, design thinking and living labs”. he explained the audience the meaning of the word "thing” in germanic societies as a governing assembly. in his view, designers should deal less with objects, shifting from the first class of “things: objects” to that second class of “things: governance”. professor ehn made the audience go through the design thinking from the 70’s of design-by-doing or design-by-planning towards what it should be, according to him, the design after design – the infrastructuring of things, where we should design for future and unforeseen users and uses.

sara de boer, from t+huis, an organization that uses design thinking to solve community problems in eidhoven, holland, had shown a project together with caren weisleder, from the köln international school of design, kisd. this project deals with street prostitution trying to get some innovative insights to help the local authorities solve a problem of relocation, among others. the curious fact about this project is that many ngos have tried to work this out without being really successful, and then the local government decided to give it a last try with design thinking, inviting kisd and design academy eindhoven, with the mediation of t+huis.

(since the website of t+huis was not working properly, here are the links for the project at the design for service blog as well as a video of from a presentation of the on the road kisd project to the eindhoven council)

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