Monday, March 19, 2007

Are Designers The Enemy Of Design?

A controversial idea. See the next article ...

In the name of provocation, let me start by saying that DESIGNERS SUCK. I’m sorry. It’s true. DESIGNERS SUCK. There’s a big backlash against design going on today and it’s because designers suck.

So let me tell you why. Designers suck because they are arrogant. The blogs and websites are full of designers shouting how awful it is that now, thanks to Macs, Web 2.0, even YouTube, EVERYONE is a designer. Core 77 recently ran an article on this backlash and so did we on our Innovation & Design site. Designers are saying that Design is everywhere, done by everyone. So Design is debased, eroded, insulted. The subtext, of course, is that Real design can only be done by great star designers.

This is simply not true. Design Democracy is the wave of the future. Exceptional design may only be done by great star designers. But the design of our music experiences, the design of our MySpace pages, the design of our blogs, the design of our clothes, the design of our online community chats, the design of our Class of ’95 brochures, the design of our screens, the design of the designs on our bodies—We are all designing more of our lives. And with more and more tools, we, the masses, want to design anything that touches us on the journey, the big journey through life. People want to participate in the design of their lives. They insist on being part of the conversation about their lives.

So Lesson One here is that the process of design, the management of the design process, is changing radically. Egos and silos are coming down, participation is expanding, tools are widespread and everyone wants to play. People want to be in the design sandbox so you have to figure out how to get them in and do design with them. This is a huge challenge.

Let’s talk about the arrogance of architects. When I began covering architecture a decade ago for Business Week, we launched an annual contest with Architectural Record. When we were about to publish pictures of the first winners, I looked at all the fancy architecture magazines. None had any pictures of people inside buildings. The buildings were all devoid of people. And most still are. We put people inside the spaces they inhabit. We inserted people into the conversation of their lives. Now, smart architects engage the masses in their designs. They hire firms who do social geography, showing how people really interact in organizations, not what their titles suggest. Informed with this information, they design spaces.

So one Big Design Management Challenge is how do you switch gears from designing for to designing with? Maybe the object of design is not a finished product but a set of tools that allow people to design their experiences for themselves. Think iPod and iTunes. Think TiVo. Starbucks. Fortunately, design has tremendous tools. In fact, design has evolved from a simple practice to a powerful methodology of Design Thinking that, I believe, can transform society. By that I mean Design, with a capital D, can move beyond fashion, graphics, products, services into education, transportation, economics and politics. Design can become powerful enough to be an approach to life, a philosophy of life. But it can do so only when Design by Ego ends and Design by Conversation begins. More on that later."    (Continued via BusinessWeek)    [Usability Resources]

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