Typically, companies keep design activities and business strategy separate (Harvard Business Review, 2007). In fact, a new product based on the company strategy is usually conceptualised by the marketing sector; the team of the project consists of various fields of the company to fulfil the business case; and senior executives make a final decision from among feasibilities and possibilities. Because of this, the role of designers may be to beautify ideas which follow the sequential steps with the organisational strategy. However, the line between services and products has become misty because of user preferences changing and customers’ demands evolving (Brown, 2009, pp.178-179). In fact, in the creative and innovative generation, successful design can be measured by diverse perspectives such as satisfying the usability, inspiring human experience, and branding the value (Esslinger, 2009, p.xii). Therefore, being design-driven is not just making attractive products. It relates how a designer and even a company to embed the culture to deliver the positive emotional thought to customers (Lee, n.d. cited in Brunner, Emery and Hall, 2009, p.i). Moreover, in order to adapt to the changeable market and the multi-cultural society, designers should not only work in parallel with other corporate sectors but also take part in the procedure at the beginning stages from concept brainstorming through the development of materialising to the final product launch (Harvard Business Review, 2007). For this reason, through building our start-up, BAGBOY FASHION, and personal networking via social media, I learned by doing, not only developing my capabilities but also enriching my practical experience and theoretical knowledge.
There are 6 things I realise to achieve my aim – not just be a designer, to be an integrator in the design process:
Culture and Communication
Collaborative working increases multiple capacities and expertise, encouraging creativity and productivity (Bright Hub, 2010). Therefore, MACE students come from different countries, diverse background, and varied speciality. However, because culture influences and shapes how people think, collaboration may bring inevitable challenges such as complex decision-making and everyone not being same position sometimes (Learning Pool, 2011). In fact, in a team, we should not favour to one of two sides, just following others or being individual. Therefore, understanding assorted thinking and distinct personalities is the primary mission for us to communicate and cooperate smoothly. During the collaborative process in BAGBOY FASHION, we shared the ideas and attempted to balance opposite opinions. Indeed, I learned to respect different viewpoints and compromise dissimilar logic because of culture diversity. In particular, how to communicate is the essential issue. How to clearly express my opinion but not straight refute other people is the skill we need to learn. Corrine said that the tactic is like when you meet your friend, you need to follow their steps first and then turn to the direction you want instead of turning immediately when meeting them.
Moreover, when working on our business, I strongly realised that the role of each person in a team cannot be substituted. As we played Personality Poker in the induction of MACE, the guest lecturer, Vali Lalioti, pointed out the relationship between leadership and innovation. In fact, a well-structure team may necessitate analytical people, creative people, structural people, and engaging heart people. In my experience, working with people who own similar personality can easily convey the information, but we may lapse into disorientation because no one can jump out of the box. Although some people prefer to work with similar characteristic teammate, it is not denying that a balance of complementary individualities and the specialisation of members make for an effective and efficient team (99U, 2013).
Observation and Human-centred consideration
Current design is based on human-centred factor emphasising user experience, human behaviour, and market demands (Brown, 2009, pp.229-230). Indeed, Kolko and Connors (2010, p.5) states that a product may connect with experiences and interactions. Therefore, a dialogue between people and the object, service, or even system is created by design (Kolko and Connors, 2010, p.11). Because of this, intensive observation plays a significant role when designing products. In order to seek the inspiration of our product, we started to take notice of our life and attempted to identify the real problem locally. Although doing survey is one of the direct methods to understand customers’ behaviour, the result was not really helpful as we thought because how we ask people relates their answer. Furthermore, people usually do not really observe and understand themselves. For example, the reality of how long do people take a shower is less than they thought. Thus, through observation relying on quality not quantity, we can watch what people do not do and listen to what they do not say (Brown, 2009, pp.43-48). In terms of design thinking, as we were required to be blind, deaf, and disable people in the beginning of last term, we must place ourselves in other’s position to observe and then design. Because of this, we noticed the inconvenience of holding list when people purchased and the shopping cart with the board in Waitrose so that we invented BAGBOY with magnet. However, this design may not suit for other countries. In other words, when designing products for geographic regions and multiple cultures, the project team should conduct audience observation and research in various locations (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.93-94). Overall, design thinking translates observation into insights which are infused into products and service to effect people’s life instead of changing their behaviour directly. Because just changing consumers’ behaviour is difficult, one way to encourage people to undertake something new is to be familiar with their experience (Brown, 2009, pp.118-120).
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison
An experimental attitude leads design thinking to discover the novel direction, explore the original solutions, and recognise valuable possibilities (Brown, 2009, pp.71-75). During the manufacturing procedure, we met several challenges. Firstly, although the backgrounds of all my teammates are related to design, in reality, design concerns various fields such as product design, graphic design, and interior design. However, fashion design is the unfamiliar territory for us. Not only we did not have knowledge of fabric and skills of sewing but also the logic from 2D to 3D of making a bag differs from making a product or construct an architecture model. Therefore, we continued to experiment via learning-by-doing to comprehend the relationship between fabric attribution and practical manufacturing. Furthermore, after we made the final design decision about BAGBOY, unfortunately, the fabric we chose had sold out and would not be produced anymore. Nevertheless, because of looking replaced fabric, we have transformed the threat to the opportunity which was four colour design for BAGBOY. Indeed, design process encompassing creative thinking and problem-solving actions may encounter unanticipated situation (Bruce and Bessant, 2002, p.153). For this reason, flexibility for solving problems profits the development of products and the potential of business. Indeed, problem-solving bottoms upon experimentation to achieve creativity and innovation (Brown, 2009, pp.71-75).
Networking – It is not about what you know, but who you know (Forbes, 2012)
Due to advanced technology, social networks enable us to easily and conveniently connect to each other in this interactive society (Fast Company, 2014). On the part of individual growth, being an international student here, I am surprised that networking has a consequential and visible presence at school, differing from my country. Originally, I was not a person talking actively. But after several occasions and the dragon’s den, I noticed a delicate change in my behaviour. In the pitch workshop, we were required to talk with other students we did not know before in few minutes. In fact, I was confident to be the person who started the conversation. As Fast Company reports (2014), the positive attitude and the courage of jumping into the social life can build our own work, bridging other people and us. Moreover, in terms of business operation, we did not familiarise with fashion design before so that we tried to find the resource and to learn to produce BAGBOY. At this moment, the importance and contribution of networking can be seen during the whole process of our business such as importing cheaper components from our home town, producing the bag by fashion students we knew, and taking the professional pictures with models. Indeed, the best harvest of networking is meeting the heroes who help our project. Although we might be not a master of fashion design, but we start to enter fashion world. For this reason, spending 15 minutes sharing and interacting with social networks may change our career (Fast Company, 2014). Therefore, networking is not just a medium of promoting ourselves, it is a process of interaction and cooperation to acquire information to achieve our goals.
Storytelling – Brighten a product, a brand, and even a person
I was really impressed when Corrine told the story of her shoes made by her grandma. In fact, stories not only are the natural form for people to process information but also stimulate people’s imagination and curiosity (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.76-78). The way of the description linking the customers’ experience and their emotion will affect the success of the product. Because of this, I realised that a narrative product which has the meaningful implication standing behind can touch people’s heart and get their attention. In particular, Weinschenk (2011, pp.79-81) mentions ‘people learn best by example’. For this reason, when selling BAGBOY and shooting the advertising, we shown the dilemma when shopping and the usage of BAGBOY for customers to convince them. In general, a great branding which combines with emotional stories and functional demonstration can bring customers into the scenario to link their mind and experience in reality (Lucente, n.d. cited in Brunner, Emery and Hall, 2009, p.i). With respect to teamwork, I tried to use pictures to describe my opinions because visual narration assists me to capture the attention of audiences. Indeed, people can recognise patterns faster and easier (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.7-8). Through drawing, I figured out the structure and details of my ideas. Overall, visual thinking via sketch simultaneously reveal functional features and emotional contents although verbal and number can also deliver precisely (Brown, 2009, pp.80-81). Above all, stories which we are immersed in may work. The key is how to tell a story.
In addition to storytelling, social media is one of the platform to convey our brief. In recent years, we can manage and maintain individual and organisational networking via social media such as the blog and the website. It inspires me to think what is an attractive web page for audiences. Not only the meaningful contents but also visual attraction can engage people to follow our business and articles. Firstly, we need to perceive what the purpose of our promotion is. According to Weinschenk (2011, pp.43-44), people read one single wide column (100 characters per line) easier and faster because of less interference. However, they prefer to read a shorter line length (45 characters per line) with multiple columns (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.43-44). Furthermore, when designing a logo for the business, the typeface influences the impression of customers for the company. For this reason, the typeface of web page may evoke the audience mood, the brand image, or relevant association. The fonts we use for web page should be readable and appreciatively express the invisible feeling. For example, although capitals letters can catch audience eyes, some people could not read by using capitals for all context which is perceived as shouting (Weinschenk, 2011, pp.30-32). Therefore, the layout of web page can represent our personality and attitude. Indeed, using social media in suitable way can motivate the networking and benefit to build our reputation.
In conclusion, through this module, I firmly believe the importance of human-centred thinking for designers. Design is not just attractive shape. The best ideas emerge from an integrated team which may include designers, engineers, and managers (Brown, 2009, p.73). Good design is redefined as aesthetic functionality which fascinates people to use them comfortably and permeates into their life naturally. In order to fulfil physical demand and psychological intention, brainstorming base on multiple perspectives and user experience is necessary. Not only the collaborative team boosts the group performance, but also I can get energy from other teammates. Indeed, sharing is the fundamental pathway for learning in the knowledge economy. Moreover, there is a reciprocality between business and design. We need to control time within the schedule and manage the budget of production. Through practical activities, I cultivated design thinking in manufacturing, marketing, and management. Designing a business focusing on knowledge profundity and strengthening the learning extent enables me to be an all-round designer who competitively possesses design thinking, multiple abilities, and flexible attitude in the future. At least but not last, to confidently appreciate our own advantages and attract other people to discover our beauty and value.
Brown, T. (2009) Change by Design. New York: HarperCollins.
Bright Hub (2010) Collaboration at Work: A Look at the Pros and Cons. Available at: http://www.brighthub.com/office/collaboration/articles/73856.aspx (Accessed: 18 April 2014).
Bruce, M. and Bessant, J. (2002) Design a Business. Essex: Pearson Educaion Limited.
Brunner, R., Emery, S. and Hall, R. (2009) Design matters: How great design will make people love your company. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
Esslinger, H. (2009) A fine line. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Fast Company (2014) The 15-Minute Daily Habit That Will Change Your Career. Available at: http://www.fastcompany.com/3028112/agendas/the-15-minute-daily-habit-that-will-change-your-career?utm_source (Accessed: 3 March 2014).
Forbes (2012) It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know? Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tykiisel/2012/05/02/have-you-got-klout/ (Accessed: 18 April 2014).
Harvard Business Review (2007) Innovate Faster by Melding Design and Strategy. Available at: http://hbr.org/2007/09/innovate-faster-by-melding-design-and-strategy/ar/1 (Accessed: 17 April 2014).
Kolko, J. and Connors, C. (2010) Thoughts on Interaction Design. [Online]. Available at: http://www.kingston.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=631962 (Accessed: 10 April 2014).
Learning Pool (2011) Five benefits and five challenges of collaborative working. Available at: http://www.learningpool.com/five-benefits-and-five-challenges-of-collaborative-working/ (Accessed: 18 April 2014).
Weinschenk, S.M. (2011) 100 Things every designer needs to know about people. Berkeley: New Riders.
99U (2013) 9 Facts Every Creative Needs to Know About Collaborative Teams. Available at: http://99u.com/articles/16850/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-teams (Accessed: 18 April 2014).