Wednesday, March 31, 2010

corporate design responsibility?

“Business schools in America have done nothing about corporate management’s responsibility for good design and aesthetics in business. Producers and retailers are often preoccupied with a concern for “Will it sell?”. Most people walk in ugliness in terms of architecture and merchandise.”

(Hoving & O’Brien (1975)“The Art of Design Management – Design in American Business”, The Tiffany/Wharton Lectures. New York: Tiffany & Co. p. 1)

This was written in 1975. 35 years later, I’m surprised that we still haven’t founded the expression ‘Corporate Design Responsibility’ – which could apply both to the corporate internal need to manage design processes, as well as to the aesthetic, social and environmental responsibility to the outer world, and furthermore to the fact that design focus might be the only way to survive for many traditional companies in times of socio-economic transition. When stressing the need for ‘Corporate Design Responsibility’, I’m addressing the responsibility of business leaders. Or as Hanks puts it (p. 91):

“The process of design involves the designer, user and client. The key to good design is in the hands of our business leaders – “they have the decision-making power to initiate good design and designers”. Too often, design is left to the lowest levels of corporate management. And, often, design is viewed as ‘decoration’, ‘frill’, or ‘superficiality.’”

Even though I’m calling for corporate design responsibility to firmly take place on the corporate agenda, I can happily conclude that things have evolved since 1975. Design is today not narrowed down to “‘decoration’, ‘frill’, or ‘superficiality’”. The term is now used in many circumstances and areas of society. This is what I concluded with a blog post on the very last day of 2009: word of the year: DESIGN.

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