Designers are modern-day impactors. Inside boardrooms or on a trail of inspiration, they are at the core of customisation, 3D printing, robotics, the internet of things, AI and much more. Travelling to unexplored destinations, scouring for multiple solutions, they transform lives. Design today is not the traditional norm – aesthetics and cosmetic. It’s catapulted to center stage today as consulting firms acquire design powerhouses to spearhead their ideology and growth.
The philosophy is about being futuristic, turning imagination into tangibles, finding solutions while anticipating problems. Design collaborates with cutting edge technology to understand customer behaviour, making small things matter, and eventually driving business strategies across the world.
Today, linear economies are giving way to circular and creative economies catalysed by design. Ethical, efficient and sustainable practices have manifested thanks to design. It is venturing into areas that were unthinkable a decade ago. Be it gaming technology, communication design and a host of other streams that give impetus to business the world over. From make the aged population independent, aiding in the future of humanitarian work and the new post-humanistic world inhabited not just by people but by intelligent machines, there is a whole macrocosm being created.
This exciting leap forward, and its technological transformations have brought India at the cusp of a big digital revolution: ‘Industry 4.0. ’ Here, fast-paced innovation is changing businesses. But it’s also throwing up a host of challenges. These include complex health issues, rising unemployment, skill gaps, the rising gap in wealth, over access to consumption, an overload of information, growth of the digital economy and environmental degradation. These challenges are massive, interconnected and require our urgent attention. There is a need to improve people’s lives around us and innovation alone cannot address them.
New patterns of consumer behaviour are forcing companies to adopt novel ways to market and design products and services. Government and business leaders are recognising the need to focus on identifying the changing environment, challenging old systems and designing to create improved systems with innovation.
These issues can no longer be solved by a domain, economic or a community expert. It requires the expertise of a specialist who can identify core issues while treating the system and not the symptom, and mentoring and facilitating these processes. The 21st century design addresses complex societal issues, focuses on people and acts as an intermediary between various players.
Today, designers have the ability to systematically observe, ideate, test, iterate and facilitate solutions. They focus on a multi-disciplinary approach, facilitating collaboration between people, civil groups and companies around the globe to exchange information and ideas. A designer identifies a problem, brainstorms for ideas that can solve it and tests these ideas in real time, thereby converting them into reality with a more practical, human-centric approach. The design approach to solving problems is an utmost necessity today. In fact, this amalgamation of design has already begun in some leading corporates across the world.
A new outlook on the way industries engage with design and its process is leading to a paradigm shift. Major consulting firms have moved into the design arena in order to enhance systems, create impact and outcomes. Accenture acquired Australian creative agency – The Monkeys, RXP brought in The Works, KPMG, UDKU while Deloitte bought Swedish creative agency Acne. These companies are now achieving commendable milestones in innovation.
Some of the best examples where innovation through design has had an impact can be seen in the leaps that companies like Apple, IDEO, Frog Design, Ikea, Airbnb and Netflix have made.In India too, design is playing a major role in industry, whether it is devising methods to diagnose disease using Ayurvedic techniques (by Design Directions) or changing the mindset and empowering young people towards a sustainable future (by Design for Change) or the Mahindra Group investing in Pininfarina launching luxury electric vehicles.
The shift is already visible with start-ups realising the power of design in transforming their businesses. As Amitabh Kant, CEO NITI Aayog said at a recent confluence – What’s Nextconducted by Pearl Academy: “We need to disrupt minds, without that we will not be able to find solutions to our problems. There cannot be Make in India without design and innovation in India. The real value lies in Design; it is the crux of what we do and that is what all advanced countries are doing in the world. My message to the students is – disrupt India in a manner which it has never seen before and that can only happen with The Creative Spark.”