The new era of Design

Aug 6, 2018 · 3 min read

“Designers are their own worst enemy” said Don Norman, “Look at the London Ambulance System for example. The ambulance stays at the hospital and then, when there is call, it has to rush to get the injured person and then rush them back to the hospital. Why don’t we keep the ambulance where the injured people are? So, we keep the ambulances located throughout the city where we know there apt to be difficulties and accidents. This way we will be closer to them when something happens. The ambulance should have better equipments and telecommunications gear, so the physicians in the hospital know what’s happening, give advice on the way and also be prepared for the patient. We redesigned the entire ambulance and hospital systems.

We won many prizes for it. The Mayor of London loved it.

And then recently, he met me in a conference in Shanghai and I asked him, ‘It’s been ten years since the work was done; tell me, how it has been accepted by the city?’ and the Mayor answered, ‘Well, nothing happened. It was such a big problem that the Union raised in opposition and nothing ever happened.’ ”

We, as designers proud ourselves as being creative. We find innovative solutions to complex problems. We brainstorm, think out-of-the-box, come up with ingenious ways of tackling everyday issues, develop beautiful solutions. Infact, the internet is flooded with so much futuristic and radical designs from the design community that it sometimes baffles me.

Yet, when I see the percentage of those radical designs realised in the real world, it is surprisingly low. Why is that? While the designs and interactions look great in gifs and jpegs, why so few of them actually get implemented?

The reason is, it is not just the designer who determines the final outcome. There are multiple disciplines involved in the implementation process, which work together to create something that reaches the end-user.

I believe, it is the responsibility of a designer to understand and take into account the function all the different disciplines that come into play to produce the final output, in his design process. Otherwise, the experience that reaches the end-user would not be the one designed in the first place.

Helicopter design by Leonardo Da Vinci. Looks great but doesn’t work.

As designers we come up creative solutions to complex problems. But in this new era of design, it unfortunately is not enough. I believe, as designers, we not only have to come up with solutions but also think about how they will be implemented in the real world.

What are the social, economic and political constraints that’ll govern your design? Who are the decision makers?

We can give enticing pitches, make enthralling videos, produce enrapturing visions but at the end of the day, they will only be useful if they are implemented.

And this is where we need Designpreneurship.

In software industry, it is relatively easy because the number of disciplines involved are few. But as we move on to bigger problems in healthcare, education industry the design no longer remains as easy as creating wireframes and marvel prototype.

As designers, we need to understand the design process and also the implementation process.

The areas such as healthcare and education are in dire need of design. And these require new era of designers who not only know design and but also know how to get those solutions implemented. This is where we as designers can make an impact.

The world desperately needs Designpreneurs. Can you be one?

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