Saturday, 25 October 2014

A Case for Design in Business - Part 5

Designers Make Great Leaders & Should Play a Leadership Role in Businesses

In 2007, Bruce Nussbaum was a supporter of design thinking. He believed the CEO's and Managers had to learn to be designers and use design thinking methodologies to accomplish business goals (Nussbaum, 2007). It is important to note that some companies have had success with design thinking. The organizations that have shown success however, have had designers as leaders and integrated design thinking at all levels, not as a quick band-aid solution (Tydings, 2012).

Nussbaum argues that design must be fully integrated with business, marketing, and engineering. These faculties must learn from each other at an educational level and continue to integrate at a corporate / real-world level. The debate between commerce and art is of the past, and now is the time to find commonality. That is not to say design should give up it's specialties in visualization and form creation, only to say that it should expand those specialties to include empathy "formalized expression of how it translates empathy to creativity and then to form and experience" (Nussbaum, 2007). Design leaders recognize the value of combining different sources of knowledge. Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan of Method combined sustainable chemistry, business and industrial design to create a successful line of soaps and detergents (Tydings, 2012).

Lou Dorfsman (Former Graphic Designer at CBS) understood the need for a multidisciplinary approach to business and design to employ a successful brand change. He worked with meticulous detail to ensure that a cohesive brand experience from all aspects of the business (including customer experience, architecture and graphic design) (Tydings, 2012).

Presently, many industries are in a state of flux, and business people and designers alike are swept up in the change. Innovation now goes beyond technology, it includes systems and organizations. Design goes beyond form to include methods and ways of thinking, it is forward looking by nature (Nussbaum, 2007). The ability of designers to create intangible design (experience design) is not new; Charles and Ray Eames were specialists in creates processes and systems that were capable of changing and be continuously improved (Tydings, 2012).

Many CEO's and corporate leaders & managers are still believers that design is no more than aesthetics. They understand concepts about innovation, but not design. These attitudes will not survive. Business culture is being radically affected by the changes taking place, and design, technology & innovation are the drivers. Designers are the "sherpas of culture, the guides to community, the empathizers of the odd and foreign." They see these changes as opportunities. It is only with this attitude that companies will be able to survive in this new climate (Nussbaum, 2007).
Design is so popular today mostly because business sees design as connecting it to the consumer populace in a deep, fundamental and honest way. An honest way. If you are in the myth-making business, you don’t need design. You need a great ad agency. But if you are in the authenticity and integrity business then you have to think design. If you are in the co-creation business today—and you’d better be in this age of social networking—then you have to think of design. Indeed, your brand is increasingly shaped and defined by network communities, not your ad agency. Brand manager? Forget about it. Brand curator maybe (Nussbaum, 2007). 
Modern companies are beginning to understand this need. For example, Citrix, Dyson and Method are modern companies that have successfully integrated design into their business methods; they focus on customer satisfaction and use design to gain a competitive advantage. They are using a similar multidisciplinary, multifaceted approach that was laid out by designers like the Eameses and Dorfsmon (Tydings, 2012).

"Through experience design, multidisciplinary leadership, and design thinking, designers are looking at businesses holistically and using design processes and techniques to drive companies toward more successful innovation. Increasingly, design is affecting more than new products or brand strategy and used to better inform, create and/or shape company strategy and their business models" (Tydings, 2012).


Miller, K., & Moultrie, J. (2013). Delineating Design Leaders: A Framework of Design Management Roles in Fashion Retail.Creativity & Innovation Management, 22(2), 161-176. doi:10.1111/caim.12024

Nussbaum, B. (2007) CEOs must be Designers, Not Just Hire Them. Bloomberg Business Week. Retrieved October 21, 2014. From:

Tydings, L. (2012). Why designers will become the Next Generation of CEOs. Triple Pundit. Retrieved October 21, 2014. From:

Friday, 24 October 2014

Side Project: Kitchen Garden Concept Sketches

As one of my industrial design projects this year, I've begun to design a small scale garden suitable for urban kitchens, such as those in apartments with little to no natural light. You can read my research and initial project drivers here. The following images are part of my concept development and preliminary design ideas.

My three main ideas are:

     1. A Closed Terrarium with built-in LEDs.

     2. An Open Garden with a Central Water Reservoir and built-in LEDs

     3. An Open Garden with a Removable Water Reservoir and built-in LEDs

I've also included a series of concepts for paper pulp package seedlings to enhance the success of plant growth. I've decide to use traditional growing methods (geoponics) for the simplicity and accessibility. 

(More Sketches after the break)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A Case for Design in Business - Part 4

Businesses need Designers, not just Design Thinking

Design is a flexible discipline, displaying radical differences among philosophies, practices and designers themselves. This flexibility can lead to misunderstandings about the field by non-designers. Often, other fields (the sciences, engineering, business, the arts) that interact with design will view it as an applied version of itself. One might hear that "design is simply applied fine arts" or "design is simply applied social science." These misunderstandings leads to poor communications and failed attempts at simplifying the nature of design (Buchanan, 1992, p.19).

Design thinking can be a powerful tool. But the process of design cannot be simplified into a linear set of steps (Buchanan, 1992, p.15). Design thinking theories have attempted to simplify the process to allow non-designers to become design thinkers with all the creative capacity of a trained designer. By packaging the design process into a linear set of steps, design has been adopted with open arms by businesses and corporations. This has been a great success, giving design the recognition as a valuable and key player in corporations (Nussbaum, 2011).

The simplification of design into a set of business-friendly steps has removed the chaos and adopted the problems inherent in business systems. For example, businesses began using the design process to optimize rather than innovate, to validate rather than predict. While it is true that design can lead to optimal products that meet all the needs of the users, this is not all design is capable of. One of the main values of design is imagination and the creation of strategies/products that will lead the future (Ling, 2010).

"From the beginning, the process of Design Thinking was a scaffolding for the real deliverable: creativity. But in order to appeal to the business culture of process, it was denuded of the mess, the conflict, failure, emotions, and looping circularity that is part and parcel of the creative process." (Nussbaum, 2011) 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A case for design in business - Part 3

Design Thinking is becoming increasingly popular in the business field. In recent years it has been integrated into management and courses on creative thinking have become popular in business schools.

In 2008 the Harvard business review publish an article called Design Thinking by Tim Brown.

According to Brown, design thinking is a methodology that attempts to make use of the full spectrum of innovation activities with a focus on human centered design. This methodology requires teamwork, and requires the team to observe and understand the needs and wants of the end users, customers, or clients. It makes use of the "designer's sensibility and method to match peoples needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity" (86).

Monday, 20 October 2014

A case for design in business - Part 2

Another article I'll be examining for this essay is The Designer as Pathfinder: Design Education in the 21st Century by Naomi Gornick. This article focuses mostly on the changes design education will need to make to produce competitive workers for the evolving global market. However, it also speaks to the need for design education to include business thinking and the need for design management within companies.

Despite the increasing endorsement of of design by both corporations and consumers, there are still dilemmas. Gornick suggests four main topics that should be addressed:

  1. Design should be given an "optimum position" in organizations. What has yet to be determined is exactly what this position is and who is best fit to manage it. Designers must be given the skills to lead companies, and schools should teach "design management" (1).
  2. Design is finally achieving recognition from both corporations and the public. However, what they are praised for and recognized for does not truly reflect design's benefits. Media highlights well designed luxury products, but rarely identifies the moral benefits design has to offer (1).
  3. Design management is not prevalent enough within organizations. And the designers who have positions of power do not often enough use their positions to invoke change; instead taking an "anachronistic view of their range of responsibility" (1).
  4. Design education institutions have been encouraging isolationism among designer student. It fails to teach them how to properly integrate into the ever changing global market.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Kitchen Garden II : Geoponics vs Hydroponics vs Aeroponics


There are many emerging technologies that are used for growing plants. I have explored the three main methods to determine which one I will use for my kitchen - planter concept.


Geoponics refers to the traditional method of growing plants. It uses natural biomatter (soil and dirt) as the medium in which seeds grow. This is the natural method for plants to grow, almost all plants will grow in this condition (save for plant which grow in water such as lily pads).


Hydroponics refers to growing plants in "water" or a liquid nutrient solution. Usually the water must be aerated, or it will only cover the roots partially, to allow the roots some exposed to oxygen. Clay tablets may also be used to regulate moisture around the plant. By submerging the plant's roots in water, the plant is able to absorb a higher percentage of nutrients from the solution than it would from the soil. This leads to faster growth rates and larger plants. However, the water must be changed frequently, and the plants risk becoming water logged; many plants do not grow well in these types of conditions leading to the opposite of the desired effect. If too much light reaches the nutrient solution, bacteria and algae may grow.


Aeroponics is a subset of Hydroponics; it uses the same nutrient solution to feed the plant but sprays the solution onto the roots instead of submerging the roots in it. By spraying the solution, the roots are exposed to more oxygen. This leads to an even higher growth rate and larger biomass produced. This method is suitable for large scale plant production, and can even be used in space / "zero-gravity" environments. Similar issues exist with this method; the moist environment may lead to bacteria growth.


I believe that for the purposes of my project, Geoponics is the best solution. Hydroponics and Aeroponics are excellent for large scale projects and industrial purposes, They are technologically advanced and use many superior techniques. However, since I am working with the average user and on a very small scale, it is unlikely that the garden would actually make use of the full potential of those methods. Geoponics simplifies the process, will use less energy on this small scale and will require fewer additional products to be bought by the user.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

A case for design in Business - Part 1

I've decided to start using this blog to document my research process.

I'm currently in the process of writing an essay on how design and business can benefit from each other, and the overlaps that already exist. I believe business needs design to be successful in the current economy and society; not design limited to products or graphics or even adds, but systems design, experience design, service design and organizational design. Likewise, design cannot accomplish it's goals without the tools of business; it a capitalist climate, businesses have power and design must harness those tools.

The first source I've begun to look at is an essay by Bryan smith in "The Fifth Discipline Field Book." The essay focuses on the importance of creating a vision within a company, and describes a strategy companies can use to create a shared vision. The developmental strategies allow the leaders to listen and the rest to lead, allowing a cohesive flow of information and movement in the organization (313-314).

Monday, 13 October 2014

Side Project: Kitchen Garden

As one of my industrial design projects this year, I've begun to design a small scale garden suitable for urban kitchens, such as those in apartments with little to no natural light. The following images describe my research process. Part of my process includes generating "critical project drivers" or CPDs. CPDs state all the features that a product must have, as well as feature that are nice to have or should be integrated if possible. These drivers focus on risks, costs, quality and timing associated with my project. 

More details after the break.   

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Opinion Essay: Technology’s Effects on Work in the Post-Industrial Society

In 2012 I wrote this essay for a class called "Contextual Nature of Product design". I'm now publishing here so I will be able to reference it easily at a later date and to make sure it doesn't become lost in the sea of files on my hard-drive. I'm also posting it here because I believe it is still somewhat relevant to my beliefs as a designer in the modern world. My research during 2012 as a third-year undergraduate played a role in my ideas today. My ideas have changed since 2012, and they are continuing to evolve as I continue to learn. I realized that I truly enjoy research, and I believe it is one of the most valuable tools I have as a designer.  

Work has developed in many ways since the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution saw the birth of mass production, assembly lines and factory work. The environment of work changed. People, who once worked at home, in their own workshops as craftsmen or on their own farms, were now leaving home to go to work at massive factories or began working for large companies ("The industrial revolution," n.d.). There was also a massive growth of new inventions and technology, leading to many new work trends inside and outside the home (Cowan, 1976, p.1). It was also during this time that people began to develop an appreciation for the need of trained a trained labor force, as adult workers who had previous experience as factory workers were often paid more than untrained workers (Galbi, 1997, p. 9). This rapid growth has continued throughout the last century and the nature of work has continued to change.

(Essay introduction continues after break)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I'd like to produce buttons, notebooks and other items with this character on it.

On my reading list: Design Books

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
by William McDonough & Michael Braungart

The book looks at how to "do more with less in order to minimize damage," and examines manufacturing techiniques and environmentalism. I'm currently reading this book and it is fascinating.


Materials for Inspirational Design
by Chris Lefteri

An amazing book but impossible to find. The book provides informative inspiration for design as well as an introduction to the properties of various materials such as wood, metal, glass, ceramics and plastic.

Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design
by Chris Lefteri
Yet another beautiful, informative and inspirational book that is difficult to find. "
It''s the only designer''s guide to a broad range of production methods: from liquid, plastic and solid-state forming to different methods of cutting, moulding and machining, from rapid prototyping to finishing." 

The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines
by the Graphic Artist's Guild
The book goes in depth about copyright issues and contains contract and model release templates. It provides key knowledge for graphic designers and illustrators who are new to the industry. While I'm more involved in the product and UX design industry, I belive this would still be valuable knowledge to have. "As the graphic art marketplace continues to evolve to meet the needs of both digital and print media and as clients struggle with shrinking budgets in the current economy, the need for up-to-date information on business, ethical, and legal issues is greater than ever."   

(And all the textbooks and articles I'm currently reading at school!)