what if...the role of designers changed
The shortage of resources… The increased number of senior citizens… The relocation of world’s economic centre…
These challenges are just some of the most significant problems we are facing today, in addition to other worrisome issues, which seem to be intensified every day including environmental, social, or economic problems. Even though we might have faced some of those issues before, now they require different means of handling. Meanwhile, new challenges are emerging due to the changed behaviours and lifestyle, especially human needs which have become complicated and hard to predict by traditional variables. Designers, therefore, need to find a way to solve the existing and the coming problems in order to create value and cause positive impact on the society.
Dave Benach, Global Talent Acquisition Leader at Frog, gave a lecture at the “Assembling the Designer of Tomorrow” seminar in Frog Amsterdam earlier this year. He stated that the role and responsibility of designers have changed because of the problems the world is facing now. Designing today is not only about designing alone. Designers should upscale their work and think thoroughly about the whole system, and bear in mind how their work would fit in each context.
As stated earlier, the skills and knowledge of designers alone are not enough to fight with those encircling problems. Seeking cooperation from specialists in other fields and working closer together would improve the result and create more well-rounded benefit, as evident by many successful experimental designs. For example, a conceptualization of luminescent trees and smart road by Daan Roosegaarde who utilises bio-luminescent and implement it as a more effective and sustainable traffic system improvement for the future. In this project, he has co-created with biologists to make use of luminescent substance from jellyfish and mushrooms to create luminescent plants instead of traditional road lighting system with electric lamps.
Visualisations from “Glowing Nature” project by Studio Roosegaarde (photo from www.dezeen.com)
When consumer needs becomes more complicated, a product alone cannot satisfy them anymore. However, offering users with emotional value or a fulfilling experience that truly serve the intricacy of user’s needs are needed. This is why the arts of service design has become more popular in this era. The core message of service design is that the role and responsibility of designers has shifted drastically, from designing to facilitating. Instead of designing for a company, designers today should design with the company. As such, a designer should take the role of a “facilitator”, starting from doing research, observing problems, collecting data, brainstorming, and designing. And the stakeholders in each project should take part in the whole process too, from the company owner to its employees. The reason is that everyone in the company understands the problem, in many cases better than designers themselves. In addition, by working together, the feeling of ownership can be developed and the outcome will be more effective as every party’s potential can be utilised.
You can see that the designers’ role is not entirely changed, but their perspective toward their own role and duty should be adjusted to “create change and value” to the world.
Metaphorically speaking, designing is not to create a single dot, but to connect each dot together. That means designers have to find the relationship between a certain object with its context, work with specialists from other fields, than design an experience or a relationship. More importantly, they should also act as the mediator who communicates and develop good relationships among the stakeholders, and create a space for possibility in the future.
Source: www.dezeen.com www.designmind.frogdesign.com www.icsid.org