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The people who design change

October 22nd, 2010

Filed under: ART & DESIGN


This morning’s 1st World Design Forum press breakfast at Eindhoven’s Parktheatre was intimate. I did speak to some of the very relaxed speakers prior to taking the stage. I asked Stefano Marzano what he was going to say. “I didn’t pick the title of my speech. It’s called Next Design. I know what I want to say, but I don’t know how it’s going to end!” That’s a great way to approach an exciting day about the future of design and business. It’s a new frontier, and we can’t know all the answers today.

In more and more companies today, design is considered integral to the making of business decisions and the steering of strategy. Basically, everything is and can be designed. Whether it’s done consciously or not,  expertly or clumsily, all things are designed. Many companies flourish organically, and others suffer the withering touch of mal-formed business savvy. Much of the time this has to do with poor future strategic thinking, a failure to enter/create/imagine new markets, or the lack of wisdom to see how current practices might lead to results that spell doom.

The inaugural World Design Forum is a 5.5 hour affair was scheduled to take place today from 9.30am and (by the time you read this), was opened by the Mayor Rob van Gijzel. Key speakers were the big guns in the design-meets-business world: Stefano Marzano (Philips Design), Cees van Dok (Frog Design), Paul Iske (ABN-Amro), Roland Streule (RADO), Roberto Verganti (Politecnico Milano) and Stefan Pannenbecker (Nokia). The forum will be moderated by the esteemed Josephine Green, Social Foresight and Strategy and Innovation thinker.

I am more than somewhat disappointed by the design of the website and the communication material of the WDF. Perhaps the event was arranged last minute. But I saw the identity as rather corporate and not design-y at all.  It may have been intentional, and if the message of the forum is that business must take design seriously (thereby dispensing with frills and frivolity) then I guess it works. Sure, design should bring a lot more to the table than pretty colors, or proverbial bells and whistles, but a good looking brochure and a strong brand can’t hurt none. For year 2, maybe some design-ish-ness can go into the communication? Just a thought, as aesthetics, function and communication is very much on my mind as this very exciting Dutch Design Week 2010 begins!

The WDF brand identity

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