Evolving Design

The world moves fast these days.  And we, as designers, need to move even faster just to keep up.

With these changes happening by the second, we are constantly re-evaluating how we approach the world.  The definition of words like “design” need to keep up by expanding, changing and updating to follow the flow of this “new world.”

“Today, it’s a way of thinking; a creative process that spans entire organizations, driven by the desire to better understand and meet consumer needs.”

This statement is the opening line to a recent conversation between Hugo Sarrazin, of McKinsey, and John Maeda, design partner of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former president of the Rhode Island School of Design, discussing what design is, and how it has changed over recent years.

In 1966, T.J. Watson Jr. said “good design is good business.” Maeda explains Watson’s statement as “it is design that can be instrumented, and then design where the process is changing because you are now saving time.  And saving time is saving money.”  This thinking is more relevant than ever today, as design has become more than a look-and-feel, it is the full experience of a brand, and the interaction the consumer has with it.

As Sarrazin states in the piece, “the advent of mobile [has] fundamentally [changed] the need to think about design, the interaction and the experience in a substantive way.” Designers need to solve problems differently, because consumers interact with the problems differently.  It is as simple as that.  But the evolution can’t stop there.

A successful design group “requires people to work in a collaborative way that is different than it’s been historically,” Sarazzan continues.  The collaboration is our best tool as designers, bringing together participants with different backgrounds.  Something they should have in common is a curiosity about design.  Without curiosity, evolution becomes a much harder peak to reach.

Sarrazins says it best, “it’s [about] getting the right people together, creating a sense of community.”  A community itself is just good design.