Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Design Management for Creative and Commercial Growth

I have been invited by the DBA (Design Business Association) in London to give a breakfast talk on Thursday morning 11th December at Dragon Rouge. Looking forward to hearing key issues for the design industry as we work through the one-and-a-half-hour session.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Legacy - A Design Champion for South Africa's Government?

In this News24 interview with Jennifer Sanasie, I mention Director General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Mr Vuyo Jack's interest in the idea of a design champion in government.

What I don't mention is that during his closing speech at the 'Make a Plan' conference in Cape Town last week, DG Jack also spoke of the need for design thinking threaded through all of South Africa's strategies. Powerful stuff.

To listen to the interview please click here.

News24 South Africa is here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

WDC Cape Town 2014 hands over to WDC Taipei 2016

A remarkable cellist entertained guests on Saturday evening 18th October at the drinks reception held on the 8th floor of the Portview Building in Cape Town, prior to the Convocation Ceremony to hand over the baton to Icsid World Design Capital Taipei 2016 which was held on the 28th floor. In addition to the ceremony itself, we enjoyed spectacular views of the city as the sun set over the mountains.

In her handover speech, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille paid a passionate tribute to all involved in the success for Cape Town of WDC 2014 and congratulated Taipei on its success as World Design Capital 2016. The Commissioner of Taipei City Government, Dr. Wei Gong Liou offered his thanks to Cape Town and promised an exciting and significant year for his city in 2016.

Make a Plan!

In South Africa, to say 'Make a Plan' means, 'Let's do something now!'. And that is exactly what is happening here as the key design and government stakeholders work to shape the Design Agenda for South Africa. With the support of the Premier of Western Cape, Helen Zille and the Ministry of Arts and Culture Director General Vuyo Jack, (speaking on behalf of his Minister Nahti Mthethwa), - who topped and tailed what has been a truly remarkable two-day conference here in Cape Town - the opportunity for a unique response to the development of strategies and policies for design feels very strong.

We have been located in the beautiful new football stadium built for the 2010 World Cup at Green Point and very close to the city. Bringing the conference to life, we had a huge array of very high quality and inspiring speakers. In addition to speakers from South Africa itself, we heard stories and contributions from Ghana, Botswana and Kenya. Beyond the continent of Africa itself - which, by the way, we learned, can quite happily contain the countries of China and India side by side within its land mass leaving room for Germany, France and some other countries as well - speakers and panelists travelled from the US, Brazil, Columbia, India, Italy, Turkey, Canada and China.

The speakers' biogs and their views and opinions (click on 'read more' under each biopic) can be found here. All the speakers' presentations will be available on the World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 website in due course.

The conference programme was put together by the amazing Programme Director Nicky Swartz who, with Lisa Costa de Rose and her team has done a truly world-class job. Through the support of the city and the WDC sponsors, we have had an opportunity as a global 'community of policy practice', to come together to talk powerfully, and with great insight to progress the opportunity that Cape Town, The Western Province and South Africa are facing as they work hard to embed design as a strategy for development of their society and economy to improve the quality of life for all.

It has truly been an inspiring experience to have the honour of Chairing the event. Some initial notes on the conference can be found here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

World Design Capital Cape Town is ‘Making a Plan’

We are all set for an amazing two days here in Cape Town. The conference organisation has been fantastic and we have an excellent line up of speakers and panelists. You can check them out here.

The conference has been created and pulled together by the Programme Director Nicky Swartz and is the culmination of a whole series of activities that have taken place to lay the groundwork for a design strategy or design policy – or perhaps design in policies – for the Western Cape.

This is an important moment for World Design Capital Cape Town as these two days will help to shape the next steps for the design agenda in the Western Cape and perhaps even for South Africa. The conference is being opened by the Honourable Helen Zille, Premier of Western Cape and the closing words will be given by Minister of Culture and Arts Nathi Mthethwa - both of these speakers to be introduced by Alayne Reesberg the Director of WDC Cape Town 2014.

The Cape Town WDC team has attracted over 250 delegates including academia, business owners, WDC Cape Town 2014 recognised projects, government, corporates, the Icsid Board, design promotion organisations and of course designers.

Congratulations to Nicky Swartz and her team.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Conference Speaker - Barcelona

I have arrived in Barcelona for the 3rd Austria Connect Iberian Peninsula Conference organised by the Advantage Austria offices in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.

It all kicks off tonight with a welcome address and reception with Catalonia's Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Felip Puig i Godes, to be held in the City Hall.

This will be followed by a Gala Dinner attended by the Secretary of State for Trade, Madrid, Jaime Garcia-Legaz Ponce and the Austrian Ambassadors in Spain and Portugual, as well as the Director General of Advantage Austria, Walter Koren.

I have been invited by Advantage Austria Trade Commissioner in Barcelona, Dr Robert Punkenhofer, to give a presentation to conference tomorrow afternoon, Friday 3rd October, along with Georg Wagner of Spirit Design in Vienna. We are looking forward to making a joint presentation for delegates on design as strategy and sustainable design behaviour. The Conference Programme is here in German.

Cape Town World Design Capital - International Design Policy Conference and Design House Exhibition

Check out the great international design policy conference 'Make a Plan' to be held in Cape Town later this month on the 17th and 18th. It is an Icsid Signature Event for World Design Capitals.

I am enjoying working with the Conference Director Nicky Swartz and am looking forward to weaving the red thread for conference delegates as Conference Chair. There is a fantatsic line up of speakers and there is much to learn. Conference registration here.


Running in parallel with the conference is another Icsid WDC Signature Event, the Design House Exhibition. This year's theme is, 'Transforming Cities'. And there are some great cities on display ranging from Dublin to Taipei.

Friday, June 27, 2014

€Design - Measuring Design Value - Final Conference


Yesterday in Brussels, ‘€Design – Measuring Design Value’, one of seven projects funded under the European Design Innovation Initiative, held its final conference to present the results of two and a half years’ work to define the conceptual framework of design as an economic factor of production.

Presentations were given by Bonifacio Garcia-Porras, Head of Unit, DG Enterprise and Industry at the European Commission; Isabel Roig, Director of Barcelona Design Centre and €Design project co-ordinator; Robin Edman, Managing Director of SVID, Sweden; Dr. James Moultrie, Cambridge University; Prof. Dr. Eusebi Nomen and Professor Severin Filek, Managing Director of Design Austria.

The €Design hypothesis is that design, understood as an integrator of functional, emotional and social utilities, (the capacity to satisfy users’/customers’ needs and wants), at the very outset of systemic innovation may be a key factor enabling important non-linear efficiencies in the economic and social value creation of firms and GDP growth of nations.

The project has produced three key outputs - two at the macro-economic level and one at the micro-economic level:

1/ the articulation in a set of guidelines of the new paradigm of design as an integrator of functional, emotional and social utilities

2/ a set of three, tested, statistically robust questions for integration into the existing data-gathering mechanisms of the European Union that will enable the analysis and measurement of design’s economic impact

3/ a scoreboard / mapping tool for supporting organisations and SMEs to position their design capability within a measurable economic framework.

The Project consortium highlighted the currently unsatisfactory situation where there is no alignment of design as perceived within the existing Frascati and Oslo Manuals. The project partners called urgently for a shift from a technology push model of innovation in a linear system, (where design is a styling add-on providing appearance to performance), to a more sophisticated model of design perceived as an integrator within a non-linear, systemic view of innovation.

This approach demands new data as the current systems provide insufficient data on the linkages and flows that exist within systemic innovation. The hope is that the three questions may be integrated into the INNOBAROMETER with further opportunities available as the Frascati Manual is currently under review and the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) is to be reviewed in 2016/2017.

The project results were well received both by the Commission Officials present, as well as by the expert audience comprising statisticians, intermediary organisations and representatives from the other EDII projects along with other design promotion organisations. Through the panel discussion (which I had the opportunity to chair), a number of key questions provoked debate on next steps. This included the Commission stating that it is open to further ideas and communication from conference participants on taking the results of the project to a next step and that it is working to integrate the three questions into the EU measurement system.

During the discussion, I took the opportunity to ask the Commission representatives whether or not they envisaged a summative conference of all seven EDII projects once they have all completed in mid-2015. Once again, the Commission felt that this made sense and referred to the potential offered under the European Design Innovation Platform (Design for Europe) for such a conference. The Design Council gave notice of a conference it is planning under the aegis of the EDIP for next year at a date to be confirmed.

The Project guidelines, conference presentations and the scoreboard tool will be available on line at www.measuringdesignvalue.eu from Monday 30th June 2014.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Modelling Public Sector Reform

As the external consultant to European House of Design Management (EHDM) EU project’s Partner Consortium, I had the opportunity to speak at the beginning of May in Copenhagen about design’s journey towards public sector relevance. Invited by EHDM conference organiser Steinar Valade-Amland of Three Point Zero and Dorrit Bøilerehauge, CEO of Danish Designers (before it merged into Design Denmark in April), I was able to build on a shorter presentation I gave in Tallinn in 2013 at one of the EHDM’s four, public sector insight workshops organised in different European countries for specific public sector disciplines.

The European project is one of six receiving funding from the EU Commission under the European Design Innovation Initiative supported by the Commission’s Design Action Plan.

In any case, the Copenhagen conference was most successful with great presentations by Christian Bason of MindLab and others finding ways to bring design methods and approaches to the public sector. The premise of the EHDM project, is that in embracing design – or at least exploring its potential - the public sector could benefit from lessons learned and knowledge gained in the private sector.

The private sector already has established methods and processes and some simple tools for understanding a commercial company’s relationship to design. One of these is the Danish Design ladder which, over time, has been supplemented by the Design Management Staircase. In its report on design and the public Sector (Design for Public Good), the Design Council also published a design ladder for the public sector.

These simplified ‘mental models’ are very helpful and I felt that a more generic ‘ladder’, (none of them, by the way, look at all like ladders), that could reveal a journey from material to the intangible and from ‘no design sensibility’ or process, to embedded day-to-day behaviour and practice, might be interesting.

Trying to use very simple language that people who have neither interest nor expertise in design, (but who do have language for business or organisational change), I felt that the following distinctions might be helpful:

Design as ‘objects’ : beautiful, functional, commercial
Design as ‘services’ : user-centred, efficient, cost effective
Design as ‘systems’ : holistic, interconnected, synergetic
Design as ‘strategy’ : embedded behaviour and practice

Building on the previous ladders stemming from the Danish Design Ladder, this led to the following diagram:

The Danish Design Ladder is a deceptively simple and powerful tool. But is it enough nowadays to represent this construct as a ‘single-pathway’, upward journey? Is that not limiting? Is it not counter-intuitive, given that we seek to map a fundamental behavioural change in the culture of businesses and organisations? What if we were to say, that rather than going up, we were instead to indicate depth by going downwards, with design embedded as a fundamental aspect of a culture? We need to go to the basement where the foundations are, not climb to the roof.

That thought produced this diagram:

Needless to say, this diagram also falls into the trap of predicating a linear construct which is not perhaps the best way to reveal interconnected states that can be achieved or aspired to, especially as these can exist in parallel with blurred boundaries and overlap.

The design of objects, services and systems remains, and will remain, interconnected and vital to society. But perhaps now, as we look ahead, the most important design journey - the journey with the most potential - will be a deeper engagement of design with the domain of behaviour change. That is, in understanding where individuals are in their specific situations and contexts and supporting them in organisations, local authorities, municipalities to take a journey - to becoming aware of what design has to offer, experiencing its process and benefits, promulgating it and hopefully embedding in day-today behaviour and practice. As well, I should say, as becoming more open to using professional designers and design strategists.

However, like taking horses to water (not to mention lightbulbs and psychologists*), for change to happen, people need to want to change. This is where the most need lies and it is why the EHDM’s tool to support the integration of design-based approaches into public sector organisations across Europe will be a useful resource when it launches in the first half of next year. It will help people feel the benefits of design as a complementary approach, supporting them in meeting the objectives of their daily work.

As design moves towards public sector relevance, the most intriguing aspect of the evolution unfolding before our eyes, is the shift of perception about where the drivers of change can lie and what methods are available to create the change that is needed. In particular, for the public sector, (and with especial regard to public sector reform), where design is not currently a known, never mind recognised, companion.

We are already seeing many small examples of changes in perception and practice of design’s role as an enabler of change in the public sector. I believe this trickle of emerging behaviour will grow exponentially across the next five years. Simple, visualised models that speak to decision makers without literacy in design approaches and process can be helpful tools in supporting change.

Nevertheless, I am still left with the feeling that we now need to get beyond the construct of ‘ladders’. We are not rescuing cats from trees nor painting the ceiling. The journey is more sophisticated and iterative than that. Bertrand Russell wrote about civilisation as ‘some kind of struggling emergence of mind’. Perhaps we are witnessing the struggling emergence of the design mind on a broader scale than ever before. How exciting is that.
But for now, back to the drawing board.

*Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Only one. But the lightbulb has to want to change.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

IFI Regional Design Symposium, New York

MC and Workshop Facilitator, IFI Regional Design Symposium, New York

I have been collaborating with IFI President Sashi Caan in shaping the latest IFI Regional Design Symposium 'Design + Economy = Our Future'. Taking place in New York, the symposium will address the complex issue of design policy in the US through the lens of the City and State of New York.

Over a day and a half, on Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd April, a multi-disciplinary audience of some 80 experts will come together at the Steelcase WorkLife Center at Columbus Circle in New York to focus their thinking upon the potential advantages of design policy as a strategic tool to raise awareness and create change for good through design in the private and public sectors at the level of the city, State and Region.

I have the good fortune to be MCing the event and facilitating the workshop sessions that will form a significant part of the symposium. Two expert panels will raise many key issues around the concept of design policy and what that might mean in the US. A conversation between Susan Szenasy, Editor in Chief, Metropolis Magazine and Barbara Lampen, representing the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York State, will provide valuable insight on the Tuesday evening.

By the end of the Symposium, a consensual statement on design policy will have been created. The intention is for this to encapsulate a shared understanding as a basis for further action.

More information here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Honorary Doctor of Arts from the University of Brighton

On Friday morning last week, (14th February), I had the tremendous privilege of receiving an Honorary Doctor of Arts from the University of Brighton for services to design. I was presented to the audience of around 1000 under and post-graduates by Professor Jonathan Woodham, (right in picture), Director of the Centre for Research and Development and received my scroll from the University’s Chair of Governors, Lord Mogg of Queen’s Park.
In my acceptance speech having congratulated all present for their own considerable achievements, I said, “It gives me a profound sense of gratitude that my work in design and, in a very real sense, the support and contribution of all those I have worked with over so many years, in BEDA, with client companies and in design promotion organisations around the world, - all of us trying to create a better future for society through design - has been recognised in this way. It is very humbling.”
It was a very remarkable day with great kindness and hospitality shown by the University - including a luncheon in the Grand Pavillion with my own guests.
The University published its own note on its webiste here