Holistic approach to design brings better value all round

You may have noticed a new word entering design parlance. People on conference platforms are talking about ‘value’ in the context of design, which is a far cry from the ‘wealth creation’ and more tangible ‘effectiveness’ tags previously bandied about by those seeking to sell design into business and Government.

Indeed, Value Creation through Successful Design and Innovation was the title of the Institute of Directors’ first design-related conference last week, an event for which the organisation is to be applauded.

Known for its conservatism – and with a dress code to match – the IoD has made forays into design in the past. The commissioning of Hemingway Design by former director-general Sir George Cox, now chairman of the Design Council, to inject contemporary design into its building at 123 Pall Mall in London, was a masterstroke in attracting younger members.

Indications are that Cox’s successor, Miles Templeman, is equally keen to foster design. IoD marketing director Jonathan Cummings says the institute now boasts a three-pronged focus for events like last Friday’s conference: leadership, technology and design and innovation.

The notion of value was echoed on the podium at Friday’s event, with Design Council campaigns head Richard Eisermann putting it forward as an alternative word for design. Eisermann, whose job it is to propagate the importance of design to society, Government and business, says he doesn’t talk about design any more, only value. He maintains that good design can demonstrate economic, social and aesthetic values, the latter to give products and services that extra bit of desirability to users.

You may not agree with Eisermann’s definition of design – and we’d be interested to hear yours – at a time when the industry is going through change and even Chancellor Gordon Brown is championing creativity. But there is much to be said for a holistic approach that acknowledges that design is much more than cosmetics.


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