Design is BusinessPosted by emma in blog July 16, 2012
The topic at hand at last Thursday’s Glug London event was Design is Business. The speaker line-up was varied: ranging from digital planners and illustrators to producers and business owners. The talks (8 in total) were inspiring and illuminating, with each speaker giving a personal and honest account of the wins, fails, innovations and unexpected delights that can arise when business and design collide. Each speaker tackled the theme of Design is Business with humour, warmth and honesty. Personal stories were a-plenty, all different, all insightful.
Illustrator Peter Crawley’s story was one of talent, timing and humility as he recounted how his unique illustrations, created using a needle and thread, came to grace to the cover of Wallpaper Magazine, industry stalwarts of editorial design. An inspiring tale for illustrators and craftspersons alike.
After generously sharing some of his key learnings as a business owner, ‘know-thy-self’ was the take home message emphasised to the next generation of budding design directors and agency start ups by Paul Bailey of 1977 Design.
It was Simon Manchipp who addressed the tempestuous relationship between design thinking and business values head on. With great humour and wit Simon discussed creativity and business as bizzare and often opposing forces – a relevant and reticent discussion for those who work in studios, agencies or who commission design. His conclusions were pertinent, stressing the importance of educated clients in commissioning weird, iconic, head turning design that will be sure to leave a legacy.
The final talk of the evening was given by VP of Product at Last FM Matthew Horn who moved the discussion away from the idiosyncrasies of agency life towards a broader discussion of Open Source Design – an approach to design that opens up the creative process and enables users to adapt, build upon and develop products and technology for their own needs, for fun or for the sheer challenge. Matthew was quick to identify the challenges, barriers and user restrictions of Closed Design Systems such as the platform monopolies created by Apple, Facebook and Amazon Kindle. He argued for more Open Design Systems that turn users into co-creators, fostering good design, rather than inhibiting it. Arduinos, IDEO’s Human Centred Design Toolkit, the Maker’s Bill of Rights, Burning Man Festival and Secret Cinema (all of which many Futerrans are big fans of) were given as important examples of the type of tools and movements that foster creativity and help us create remarkable things. Matthew’s talk drew clear distinctions between creativity and profit, in relation to Open and Closed Design Systems we know of and experience today.
The interpretative and subjective nature of the talks made them all good value and worth a watch when they become available on the Glug website in the coming weeks. Many brought to light what remains an interesting and at times a seemingly irreconcilable relationship between design and business, and for some creativity and profit. A key industry debate that will no doubt continue…