Bridging the Bubble and the Rubble
Chris Hosmer, Envisioner, Heather Reavey, Envisioner | Design Continuum, Inc.
Old School, New School
As the design community finds itself sifting through the rubble of the latest economic downturn, the lessons from the previous recession still ring loud and clear. To not only survive, but also thrive, design must prove that it is more than merely a wallflower in business. For Design Continuum, it means forging lasting relationships with their client partners at a strategic level and proving, in hard numbers, that design can be as vital to their businesses as their technology development, their manufacturing capabilities and their brand equities. It means trying-on-for-size new processes, new models for collaboration, adapting analogous tools and techniques from other industries like the social sciences, market research, management consulting, and even filmmaking. To stay relevant in the marketplace, we need to be trustworthy as partners, innovative in process, and resourceful in continually improving our toolbox. Even amidst the rubble, we are experiencing a renaissance in how design is perceived because design is finally learning the language of business.
Ironically, the old school approach to design can be found in the bubble that is the American undergraduate design experience. There appears to be a conflict of interest in the output of industrial design education and much of the successful design strategy work being done in the industry. Unlike some other areas of study, design education often still follows a curriculum that is half a century old and the aspiration for achievement is celebrity status. Which begs that tired question: Just what is industrial design anymore?