Thursday, 4 March 2010

design better than sex?

yesterday and today c4d - centre for competitive creative design, hosted a design thinking event at cranfield university.

it was opened last night with a prestige lecture by professor roy sandbach, researcher from procter & gamble, followed by black-tie dinner. according to dr sandbach, it was his first lecture to and audience (almost) all dressed-up in dinner jackets! his lecture started talking about the longevity of procter & gamble, a company founded in 1837, probably the oldest company in the field of consumer goods operating in the world, a business of 83 billion dollars operating brands estimated in 24 billion dollars. and how p&g delivers superior value and reliability to its costumers - a continuous concern of the manufacturer in a market where the re-purchase cycle of goods is less than a month. according to him, this aim is reached with "open innovation through a design lens" (part of the title of his lecture). an approach of connect & develop instead of research & develop, valuing networking, managing know-who as much as know-how, and doing one-to-one research directly with the consumer all over the world.

this morning session was opened by simon bolton, head of c4d, who talked about the growing importance of design in a very eloquent and self-explanatory demonstration: if you search google for the word god, you will get about 366 million results; sex will return 533 million; but design is hitting 1 billion! so, according to him, design could be regarded as an issue hottest than sex and god altogether...

following simon, leslie morris, from the uk design council, talked about how important it is to communicate properly the value of good design, quoting research findings that more than 90% of the population of the uk think design has to do with fashion, furniture and cars only. she had also shown some of the programs developed by the design council for the private and public sectors, as designing demand, design bugs out, design for patient dignity and design out crime, as well as programs with universities trying to define the skills needed by the young designers reaching the market today. (all these programs could be found at the design council website)

roy sandbach once more talked about procter & gamble holistic product design approach, were function and emotion both play a significant and equivalent role. and that design should bring the right brain creativity together with the left brain strategy.

simon king, operations & it director from imagination, showed how his company is constantly innovating and renewing itself in the market, in the relations and services offered to their clients, as well as inside itself, in its environment, and the internal relations between their employees. closing the morning, richard barrett, from c4d, chaired a debate with the guests.

the afternoon was a showcase of the c4d and its partner school, lcc, the london college of communication, with presentations by michael goatman, alison prendiville and martin grant (who organized the event).

in the hall, outside the vincent building auditorium, a small exhibition about design thinking showed in six products how design can make a difference.

almost in front of the vincent building, across de parking lot, the new c4d building is getting shape, all-timber and glass, a promise of a bright future for creative competitive design at cranfield university:

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