Peter Schreyer, chief design officer for Kia Cars, says he wants to make his cars ‘design-led’ rather than about ‘value’. Are these two concepts mutually exclusive when designing products?

There is a conflict between ‘design-led’, ‘value’ and ‘bottom-line unit profitability’. But these issues are eclipsed by the word ‘customer’. It takes bravery to pitch to a board on the needs of future customers and for the board to support a departure from the norm. Car companies tend to have a few designers, a lot of engineers telling designers what they should not touch and an awful lot of manufacturing staff telling engineers and designers what they can’t make. Peter Schreyer’s largest challenge isn’t in achieving a new range of design-led products. It is in moving the mindset of an entire organisation.
David Godber, Deputy chief executive, Design Council

Typically, value, worth and desire are subjective and, therefore, intrinsically linked. For me, value and design go hand in hand and are impossible to separate. It’s an equation, for good or bad. It is true the pursuit of good design costs effort and money which needs to be passed on to the product, ultimately, but this ‘good design’ can often make items cheaper.
Luke Pearson, Director, Pearson Lloyd

No. Good design is for everyone. It does not and should not discriminate. Good design does not necessarily equate to a premium price. It is true, of course, that brand-owners use design to differentiate their products for which consumers are willing to pay more. As designers, we all want to produce good design – design that looks good, feels good and works well, whatever the product or category. In fact, it could be argued, that design is at its best when all these factors come together in an affordable package.
Steve Irvine, Creative director, LFH

The short answer is ‘no’, but it is rare. The fact Peter Schreyer has used the same principles to design iconic cars for Lamborghini and Kia suggests that good design doesn’t need to be expensive. However, for a ‘design-led’ product we are usually asked to pay a premium according to its perceived value in the market, rather than the cost of its parts. With a restrained design approach and the right business model, it is possible to add value without adding cost.
Adrian Wright, Partner, DesignWright

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