Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Design Globalization: Part 3

Part 3 on moving toward global design ...

"Part three of Design Globalization: a conversation about the impact of large scale global changes, outsourcing, and international design training/firms on design and designers (be sure to check out part two first).

Dirk Knemeyer
A convergence that I'm seeing in this dialog is the inextricable relationship between design and culture. While this is an important part of the very DNA of design in a traditional sense, this connection has been largely absent from the digital design community. After all, since a majority of design professionals in strictly digital contexts lack formal design education and traditional training, they did not enjoy exposure to the more cultural, aesthetic and expressive parts of design that make it the human, soulful craft that it is. Indeed, reflecting on the very thoughtful insights expressed here so far, I might go so far as to say that issues around globalization are proving to be the path by which legions of digital product design professionals actually begin to understand and fully realize the fusion of culture and design.

Joseph, your comment about "an open source network of designers and researchers" really strikes a chord. In fact a friend of mine, Juhan Sonin over at MITRE, has talked for a long time about creating momentum around a formal open source design movement. Others have shown interest in that idea as well, but its somewhat instructive that there has been very little traction around open source design as any sort of meaningful movement, whereas open source programming has been an incredible phenomenon. I've got some ideas about why open source design hasn't taken off in the same way, but I want to leave that for a later conversation.

Honing in very specifically on globalization, one of the issues I have with the rhetoric and conversations coming from the design community is a sense that design and designers are particularly or even uniquely suited to contributing to business success in the current and emerging global paradigms. I just don't buy that. While these changes are empowering designers to fill a vacuum that other disciplines have been slow to fill - and in the process gaining some important respect and function for design in a broader business context - that is more an opportunistic reality than an essential one. Indeed, the most successful people in business in the future are going to come from many different backgrounds, training and roles. Just because design is beginning to find its legs and assert a role among the chorus does not translate into design being any more special or unique than the other approaches and tools that make for successful business. The design intelligentsia needs to focus less on ourselves - which, by the way, is a historical failing of designers, not just in this context - and begin looking outward into other disciplines and the symphony of business in order to maximize our success and find a realistic place among our peers."    (Continued via Functioning Form)    [Usability Resources]


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