Q&A What is design?
Design is the thread that takes great ideas through to fruition, be it as a product, an environment, an experience or a way of communicating a message. It’s a way of looking at things differently, that can improve people’s lives and enhance business performance.
But it can also bring delight or ease to people of all backgrounds and ages. On the one hand you have lifestyle products such as the Apple ranges, created by Sir Jonathan Ive’s in-house team, that are exquisitely designed for intuitive use. On the other there are also more overtly functional interventions, such as the Argos in-store interactions by Dalziel & Pow – designed to make life easier for the customer.
There are health care designs, such as the ambulance created by the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre. And there are simple campaigns, as with Rose Design’s Labyrinth collaboration with artist Mark Wallinger to bring art to travellers on the London Underground. At its best, design combines creative thinking with craft and technical skills to address the real needs of people, rather than just boosting a client’s bottom line. It should be considered as a vital investment, rather than a cost, which pays off in ways that can be measured. Take the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards, which honour projects that demonstrate a notable upward shift in a company’s fortunes through the use of design.
The creative sector, of which design is a key part, can also build national reputation and boost a nation’s economic standing. In the UK, government research put the contribution of the creative industries to the economy at £76.9bn in 2013, representing growth of almost 10 per cent during the year, three times that of the wider economy.