Creative solutions in tough times

I came across an article by design critic and writer Alice Rawsthorn. Alice writes about the changing role designers will have in the near future and the chalanges some will face.

Designers also have to make the leap from a material culture where their work generally had a definitive outcome, such as an object or image, to one in which they are applying design thinking to analyze problems and develop solutions that are neither visible nor tangible.

We @31Volts see this trend happening for the last few months now where we get more and more student applications for doing a service design or design research project at our studio. Unfortunately we are not always able to help them out.
Their are two reasons for that. The first; these students are studying design management or interaction design or communication and media design. We noticed that it’s still hard for their teachers to evaluate a SD project within the study program. And second; perhaps more important. We don’t have have enough clients in need of a service designer. Or perhaps better formulated. Potential clients in need of help can’t find their way to a service design studio.

The one example we use a lot: If a company needs a new identity, who will he call? Most likely a brand design studio. But who do they call in case they are after a new brand experience? Or an experience in general. Who do you call when you own 386 train stations and want travellers to have a nice, comfortable and happy waiting time on the platform?

I know these questions are asked by board members and senior managers. I experience (design) students are eager to jump on these issues in search for a happier customer. And I’m glad that these articles like the one by Alice focus on the new role for designers. Now the time is there for both companies and design schools to jump on board!

This piece below, from the same article, points out the, perhaps biggest, problem of all. Especially. Being educated on an art school myself, I can relate to this very clearly. In the Netherlands we’ve been educating designers to be authors. Visualize Marcel Wanders, Richars Hutten and Hella Jongerius look-a-likes. We have a lot of them! And I guess to much for this century. We’ll see…

Another question is whether designers are ready to respond to these challenges, as “service” and “social” design involve very different skills to conventional design practice. The 20th-century notion of the lone “designer-hero” (there were depressingly few “heroines”) shaping his projects from start to finish was always illusory, but the new approaches to design require far greater collaboration, not just with fellow designers but with experts from other disciplines like economists, social scientists, anthropologists and programmers too. Designers also have to make the leap from a material culture where their work generally had a definitive outcome, such as an object or image, to one in which they are applying design thinking to analyze problems and develop solutions that are neither visible nor tangible.

Full article by Alice Rawsthorn here.

31Volts

31Volts

At 31Volts we love people, design and innovation. Occasionally we take the time to share our thoughts on this blog. Like what you see? Let's get in touch!

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31Volts [Service Design]