Designers will play new and broader roles

Design plays a pivotal part in dealing with the increasingly complex challenges of society. And designers need to prepare for taking on new roles.

As the world becomes more interconnected and complex, so do the problems as well as the opportunities facing businesses, government and society as a whole. In this context, the role of design and designers are changing, John Mathers from Design Council UK states in his presentation ‘The Future Role of Designers’.

“Design’s role in ensuring, that human beings are put at the heart of solutions has never been more important,” he says. But gone are the days, when designers worked in isolation.

“The role of design has become much more cross disciplinary,” he continues. “Increasingly we need multidisciplinary teams to work together and designers need to be able to work in that environment.”

He sees designers entering new fields and sectors, taking on new roles but still using the qualities of designers and design thinking to empathise, simplify complex issues and use data meaningfully as the key ingredients.

This is a challenge for designers, but it holds a great potential, John Mathers believes, for design to play a much broader role for a much broader audience. And it is very important that this has been recognized at the European level.

New European platform widens the scope for design-driven innovation

In December 2013 the EU initiated the ‘Design for Europe’ program with the aim to accelerate design-driven innovation to boost innovation, growth and job creation in the EU. With a budget of €3.8 million, the program is run by a consortium of 14 partners, among them Danish Design Centre, lead by The British Design Council.

The platform is one of the main activities in the European Commission’s strategy to integrate design into the innovation agenda, both on a policy level and in the public and private sectors throughout Europe.

“The EU has recognized that design is a really important driver for prosperity and a driver for change. The Design for Europe initiative is about getting to businesses in a broader sense, getting to policy makers, getting to the public sector, because it is those people we need to start selling the message about the role and importance of design to.”

Meaningful design also makes good business sense

John Mathers emphasize that design is about people and creating meaningful solutions for the end users. But simple facts still show, that design also makes good business sense. That every £1 spend on design can give you more than £20 in increased revenue and £4 in increased profit, is also a way of selling the point to a broader audience.

Design Council UK shows in this short animated video ‘Values of Design’, how creating value for people is creating economic value at the same time.

Hear more about the new roles that designers will play and why John Mathers worries that the design education in Europe might not be capable of keeping up with the changes we are seeing in his presentation ‘The Future Role of Designers’ on YouTube.