On Friday afternoon, the Masters class spent some valuable time with design consultant David Townson, following his morning lecture, Bowler Hat with Sleeves.
In his lecture, David gave an overview of his inspired career going into detail about his work with Orange, service design company Live|Work, his academic experience as course director of Innovative Product Design at the University of Dundee and finally about his new adventure with his own design management consultancy, Aptide. (Apt - Idea)
"Naming a company is in a way similar to naming your baby" (Townson, 2008)
David made some interesting points, particularly when he asked the familiar question we have all asked ourselves at some stage in our careers, "What is design?"
He quoted Richard Seymour's definition "making peoples' lives better," which is a bona fide answer. But he went on to say that design is all about making connections, and that we as designers are the connectors.
This made me think back to The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, where Gladwell describes the "three rules of epidemics" in the tipping points of epidemics. The first, The Law of the Few:
"The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social skills."
Gladwell describes these people as either Connectors, Mavens or Salesmen. Connectors are the people who "link is up with the world... people with a special gift for bringing the world together." So in my understanding of this concept, we as designers can change the world.
I took a lot from David's lecture including the notion of making connections between people and technology. But the most valuable point of view I took away with me was that design is about people. Often is the case that a piece of technology is designed and then designers try to find a problem to fit the solution. Hence the lecture title, Bowler Hat with Sleeves. (A quote from Billy Connolly where he tells the story of emerging useless products. The other example being a coat hanger which is also a lighter). The technology should be designed around the users' needs, not the other way around.
The morning lecture with David was delivered to us Masters students and also 2nd year Design History, Theory and Practice students. This collection of undergraduate students represent all areas of design taught at the University; Product, Jewelry, Textile, Interior and Environmental, Interactive Media and Graphic Design.
A lecture hall filled with a huge range of design disciplines.
Yet one certain individual (a jewelry designer) decided to ask David a question which opitomises exactly the problem with a lot of designers today. "What has this got to do with Jewelry design?"
I can't understand why some designers work in their own bubble. Design is multidisciplinary.
I graduated in Product Design yet my favourite designer is an architect.