Newsflash: Design Has Won

Posted on Monday 24 October 2005

This comment made me do a double-take this morning:

The great struggle for respect in society and in the corporate world is over. Design has won. It doesn’t have to sell itself. It does have to prove itself, however.

Wow. Can somebody get Bruce’s announcement out to all the companies who:

a) believe design is 2D graphics
b) believe design is making products prettier
c) believe anyone using CAD is designing
d) believe retail buyers are by default capable designers
e) believe media stars with opinions are automatically good designers
f) believe innovative thinking can be taught to anyone in a few short weeks
g) believe design is great until they find a cheaper way to execute and can undercut the competition without it.

Oh. And please send a telegram to some of my clients as well – there are some battles still raging even though the war is apparently over. I guess that would include companies that:

h) give lip-service to design because they can’t get more costs out of their product and are desperately looking for an advantage over their competition; even if it’s just using the word “design” in their press releases

or

i) like the idea of being designers so much they now bestow the professional identifier – warranted or not – to almost everyone in their organization. Remember the Fast Company “all-design” issue I mentioned previously? The one that included comments like,

If you’re in any business, you’re in the design business. We’re all designers now.

and

…we’ve mapped the essential designer fashion strategy, so that anyone — even Larry in accounting — can look hip, creative, and somehow more interesting…

That’s the kind of thing to which I’m referring.

Seems to me, that a few things have to happen before “victory” can be claimed. And one of those things is that design has to prove itself. So while I might agree with the comments on the awards, I just wish I could agree with some of the supporting remarks. I don’t. As far as I’m concerned, it’s deja vu all over again. Don’t lay down your weapons just yet.

{Edit: I posted a topic on the Core77 design forum to discuss this, so you might want to see what one community has to say.}

  1.  
    10/25/2005 | 1:22 pm
     

    OK. You rightly caught me in an exaggeration. The truth is
    that there are a growing number of companies that do “get”
    design and innovation. In fact, I would argue that with GE
    and P&G making the big shift, Corporate America is at a
    tipping point on design. But you are so right in saying that
    there are dozens, hundreds of companies who still don’t “get”
    it. CEOs and top execs who don’t understand the shift to a
    creative economy are still in the majority. But not for long.
    They will either learn about innovation/creativity/design or
    their companies will see their competitiveness erode.

  2.  
    csven
    10/25/2005 | 2:00 pm
     

    I wouldn’t disagree that companies are increasingly understanding the value of design (both the limited definition and the broader concept). And I’d also venture that – within the U.S. at least – we’re at or near a tipping point for larger corporations {though a precarious tipping point from which ID could easily slide back down the wrong side of the slope}. But after the last round of this in the early 90′s, I prefer waiting until the robust person audibles.

    I’d venture very few expected Wal*Mart-China to change the game so dramatically back then (a time which also had corporations finally turning to design for a competitive edge and similar proclamations of design “victory”). But designers sure felt the pain when U.S. companies increasingly responded to Wal*Mart’s pricing pressure by dropping design in favor of quick, cheap stuff shipped from overseas.

    So until I see a change in the design trenches, I’ll remain skeptical of announcements such as yours. And I’ll warn against making them prematurely. It didn’t really help last time. And I suspect if some other price-dropping game showed up in the corporate boardroom, it wouldn’t help the design industry today.

    Design’s day is coming. It’s just not here yet as far I’m concerned.

  3.  
    11/4/2006 | 4:31 pm
     

    Design Candy and Rotten Teeth…

    If the journalistic community is fretting over losing mindshare and gainful employment to blogs and consumer-generated media, I can provide one example of why I believe they should. You see, for about two decades there’s been a mostly lone voice …

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