In the same week that the Club World Seat for British Airways was awarded Grand Prix in the Design Business Association’s international design effectiveness awards for effective product design, and the Hot Spring radiator for Bisque gained a Judges Award, Rolls-Royce announced the loss of 5000 jobs in its Aerospace division, Siemens has warned of 7000 job losses in the telecoms sector and Marconi, having disposed of its non core manufacturing divisions, continued in free fall.
Product design is a powerful driver of any manufacturing economy. Global markets require global design solutions. The success or failure of a mass market consumer product can mean redundancies and the total dissemination of local manufacturing communities. The UK automotive industry is just one example of how design can either capture the consumer’s imagination or invite failure.
The DBA will struggle to find real examples of effective UK product design while both designers and industry choose to ignore the realities of global consumer markets preferring instead to play Don Quixote, tilting at commerce.
The real opportunities for product design to be effective are in the manufacturing sectors that desperately need new product and improved employment prospects.
Effective product design creates growth and the benefits that come with growth. Product design seems to have ignored this challenge, and like the mad inventor, is in real danger of being confined to tinkering on the fringe.