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Design Transitions

A new book just published explores where design will take us in the future: Design Transitions.

By Gabrielle Kennedy / 21-11-2013

If there’s one discipline that has benefitted from new technological developments while not being a technology itself, it is design. From web design to bio design, not to mention social and communications design – it seems design can be connected to almost any and every discipline.  Its reach has extended, which makes for some wonderful opportunities as well as responsibilities.

Design has been successful because it gives the user a prime position. Designers have not taken on the role of high priests of modern mass production, but have incorporated the viewpoint of the user.

“These days new interactive options offered by the digital universe are taking this one step further: from design with users to design by users,” writes IDEO CEO Tim Brown in his foreword to the new publication Design Transitions

Design Transitions takes us on a world tour of how design is changing by talking to designers on all continents about their challenges and solutions.

Authors Joyce Yee (design lecturer), Emma Jefferies (design consultant), and Lauren Tan (designer) identify four transitions taking place:

-  The expanding role of designers who are turning into “facilitators” between different disciplines and parties involved in a “product”, whether as producer, engineer, consumer or anywhere in between.
-  Tasks, processes and products are increasingly complicated resulting in an increasing need for collaboration.
-  The business model of designers is changing: responding to market demands, designers change the character of their companies.
-  The design process takes place via a process involving endless critique, improvement, and again critique. This might seem opaque to outsiders and it is therefor very important to communicate these values to the outside world.

From these transitions follows especially one overarching conclusion: communication is crucial to design, both within the design process and with surrounding actors. “The designer’s ability to empathize, visualize, synthesize and bring about resolution are the skills that are driving their transition into new and expanded roles,” the authors claim.

For designers, understanding the needs of the time is imperative.  “This is a time when the opportunities for design’s applications have become boundless, through an exciting series of transitions that thoroughly deserve to be documented.”

Design Transitions is published by BIS Publishers and will be launched November 29 at Hotel Droog, Amsterdam, and December 9 in London. Droog Design is one of the 42 stories showcased in the book. In Amsterdam representatives of Droog, Zilver Innovation, DesignThinkers Group, and the Minas Gerais local government (featured in the book) will share their experiences during the event.