Friday, August 29, 2008

It's the Design, Stupid!

Until now, people have thought about design as a matter of making something look pretty, or as the last stop in a the creation of a new car or appliance. Today, the potential of design is to create mind-blowing innovation around the world and people have a growing hunger for all things design.

A 2007 survey by Kelton Research for Autodesk (ADSK) found that when seven in 10 Americans recalled the last time they saw a product they just had to have, it was because of design. The survey found that among younger people (18 to 29 years old), the influence of design was even more pronounced. In Britain, a recent survey by the Design Council found that 16% of British businesses say design tops their list of key success factors. Among "rapidly growing" businesses, no fewer than 47% rank it first.

The growing demand for design is shaped by a profound shift in how elite society makes its living. Creativity in its various forms has become the No. 1 engine of economic growth. The creative class, in the words of University of Toronto professor Richard Florida, now comprises 38 million members, or more than 30% of the American workforce.

Usually when people hear the phrase "innovative design," the picture that comes to mind is some object like an iPhone, a Nintendo Wii or a Prius. Most people visualize some kind of technology product. Yet products are not the only possibilities for design. Design is rapidly moving from images and objects to include systems, organizations, and experiences. Design drives innovation, innovation powers brand, brand builds loyalty, and loyalty builds profits. If companies want long-term profits, they don't start with technology—they start with design.

Click on the heading above to see a complete story from BusinessWeek.

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