DESIGN DIRECTION & CULTURAL CONTEXT
My work is part of planning and developing Design strategies for the future. During the last 10 years I have worked with many global design-led companies to strengthen their Design Leadership. How?
The brand strategy and core values are the starting point to determine future directions. However deciding the direction alone is not enough, in addition the brand has to be embedded into the culture = locality. Design that is relevant for the markets is always resonating with the local conditions, that is what makes it successful. Today being global doesn’t mean being the same at each market by simply copying the success formula from one country to another. Instead, the brand must be ‘alive’, constantly evolving and transforming. Therefore the core of the brand, it’s originality must be crystal clear and strong enough to allow changes with time.
But the future is not evolution of the past. Major technological breakthroughs or disruptive events like wars or citizen movements can suddenly change the path and form a new route. It is impossible to know the scale and exact nature of new behaviours, but we can learn to adapt and live through the change.
What about Design Culture and Brand Culture? The same applies to them. Nothing is more certain than change, and nothing is more deadly than complacency. We are living in a transition period – the Culture of Change.
“As soon as we stop evolving, it is time to pack up. It is never finished, it is always evolving.” Simon McBurne, Complicite theatre group, Rehearsal notes.
Local Culture & Traditions
As the culture is changing, so are traditions. We call this the Living Tradition. The future is also based on tradition, which gives it meaning. Superficially created designs that are not based on any tradition make no sense. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how local cultures are changing. Leading global brands have given up ‘copy pasting’ identical brand environments to different locations, instead they are celebrating locality by using local references in their design language.
The world is opening up more everyday and we can take inspiration from almost anywhere globally through the internet. Influences are spreading instantly through sharing and travelling. So most trends are global trends. Europe has been the main birth place for global trends for a long time, but it can all change as the idea of origin and originality are blurring. Who is the creator? What is original? Is it important?
No, not really, but it is important to acknowledge these facts, and let go the idea of fixed origin. The flux is here to stay.
Creative Leaders need to be able to sell their ideas to different interest groups. Furthermore taking part in conversations of hot topics, also outside design community, is required. So the story behind the Creative Strategy and new concepts needs to be told in an engaging way.
I have created tools to support Creative Leadership. They include Cultural Intelligence, Design Intelligence and Trend Intelligence. The common thread of all these tools is that they use cross-functional approach to form a bigger picture that supports the design vision and helps to anticipate the future. Together their form a basis to generate Creative Intelligence, that supports long-term Creative Strategy building and problem solving.
HOW TO APPLY TRENDS?
The challenge of today is the editing, time consuming curating process, since there are so many trends circulating around. How to choose when there is too much information? Which design directions and trends are most relevant and best for the brand?
But applying trends superficially is not enough instead the process should include the ‘Cultural Translation’ to the brand at specific markets. In order to do that it is a great advantage to explore these markets conducting primary research.
How to see into the future? I am specialised in Creative Tools that help to make the decisions about future directions for Design. They open the trend landscape, mapping out the future and uncovering alternative paths.
The aim of mapping technique is to link relevant trends, social & cultural influences together to provide a broader view and demonstrates the basis behind different design approaches. The format is easy to understand for global audiences, who don’t necessarily have design background.
European Capital of Innovation Award – iCapital
With the award, the European Commission wants to acknowledge the outstanding achievement of a city in building up an innovation ecosystem, i.e. a system which links the citizens (People) with a built environment (Place) and public organizations and policy-makers (Public) through business (Private). This initiative is part of Innovation Union, Europe 2020 (European Union’s ten-year growth strategy). It is the European Union strategy to create an innovation-friendly environment that makes it easier for great ideas to be turned into products and services that will bring our economy growth and jobs.
The key question for design is how to create value for people? The answer is to go beyond product – focusing on people & behaviour; not purely on the end product. In the future companies need to have a start-up mentality and adaptability to utilise disruptive innovation, which requires the ability to see a bigger picture.
The idea behind disruptive innovation is to find opportunities across different industry sectors. Visualising scenarios of specific sectors makes it easier to identify such opportunities. New emerging consumer behaviours have resulted into more mixed activities taking place in different sectors. The challenge is finding new uses and users for products and spaces by taking advantage of blurring the boundaries and mixing up activities.
Scenarios can pinpoint and clarify future visions. The frameworks are designed to serve as an integral part of concepting and product development processes. The future scenarios of specific Lifestyles are then linked to environments, products, materials and colours. Furthermore, scenarios can frame the Design Concept Story based on what will happen on the markets in the future. They tell a background story behind new concepts.