Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Business Understands the Power of Design

The October 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine demonstrates just how important design has become in the economic survival of nations competing in a global economy. The lead article by Linda Tischler is "The United States of Design" and other articles cover 30 design-driven companies and 50 most influential designers.

Tischler says "From GM to 3M, in boardrooms and on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and on Madison Avenue, design matters more than ever. Around the globe, American designers have never been more influential. Welcome to an unexpected and inspiring moment."

Tischler points out that design can be a critical competitive advantage if American business seizes this moment. America's openness to anyone with a big idea makes the place a magnet for the world's talented designers including Apple's Jonathan Ive (British), graphic-design guru Stefan Sagmeister (Austrian), industrial designer Yves Behar (Swiss), product designer Dror Benshetrit (Israeli), and MoMA curator Paola Antonelli (Italian).

Tischler asserts that In the U.S., there is no official support for design, no high-priority government programs or national design initiative but people like Bill Moggridge, head of the Cooper-Hewitt, the country's national design museum, are trying to change that.

There are many influential individual design organizations in America (IDSA for industrial designers, AIGA for graphics folks, DMI for design managers, AIA for architects, and many more). Tischler says, "Each strives to make the case for design, but they do so in their own silos. The result is weakened influence."

Around the globe, however, countries are investing in design and integrating it into their business climate. The Chinese have expanded their base of design schools from 20 to 1,000 over the past decade and now has more than 1 million students in the system. South Korea is similarly motivated, and Singapore is placing big national bets on design.

The U.K.'s Design Council promises to "place design at the heart of growth and renewal in Britain" and has launched the Design for Growth Fund. In Spain, the DDI, the state agency for the development of design and innovation, promotes the role the former can play in boosting competitiveness. In the Netherlands, Premsela, jointly funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science and the City of Amsterdam, works to support and advise people in the design industry. Some nations even partner with one another: In April 2010, the India Design Council joined with the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization to develop related skills in both countries.

Click on the heading above to read Linda Tischler's article in Fast Company magazine.

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