The Design Moment
At a time when an entire country – France, and perhaps an entire continent – Europe, is asking itself questions about its identity and future in an open and unstable world, it seems important to take a stand and ask them both their view of this world with its problems and opportunities and share our belief that the students we are training, fostering and their discipline, are a major asset for the country.
Though we know their strength and importance, it is not an idea that is necessarily shared by the majority, especially institutional and political actors, trade unions or professionals of this country.
The objective of this manifesto is to explain why design, designers and the schools that train them constitute an untapped force to reinvent, enrich, strengthen, and even unlock our society in a number of dimensions – industrial, economic, social, even political.
The world has changed
A new ecological imperative
Humanism was once defined as using Nature for the service of Man. Today. The urgency is now to save it. Global warming, the carbon footprint, resource depletion, deforestation, access to drinking water, 9 billion people to feed soon… forcing us to reconsider our ways of living and our customs because it is a question of saving the planet and Mankind.
A mix of cultures and identities
Globalization allows mixing cultures and their mutual enrichment.
Globalization leads to cultural mixing and subsequently mutual enrichment provided they resonate with each other. But what it also does is challenge the benchmarks of rights and morality. Who to believe, what to believe when it comes to living together without disowning where we come from?
A new relationship with Science
In science, “Everything that can be done, will be done… Always!” Science and technology have long been vectors of progress, but doubt crept in the 20th century: will this “progress” lead us to eternity or to the end of Mankind? GMO: eradication of hunger or the end of biodiversity? Decoding the genome: the end of disease or eugenics? Nuclear power: clean, inexhaustible energy or apocalyptic catastrophe? The purpose of scientific research is now under suspicion.
A new relationship with the Economy
At a time of automated trading to the picosecond, 97% of the world’s financial exchanges are not based on any tangible production value. The tremendous wealth produced by a global economy still doesn’t equitably benefit the majority. It tends to be concentrated and widens the gap between the rich and the poor. Political choices regarding social issues are compromised as long as states do not have the necessary tools to balance them.
A new relationship with Politics
The level of education increases and information is being created, shared and commented on in unprecedented proportions and speeds. New technologies are making this possible and are allowing the implementation of innovative and powerful local political processes. The abundance as well as the immediacy of information, transparency and the end of secrecy are transforming the relationship with the authorities and are inducing or calling for new democratic practices. More than ever, the phrase “Think Global, Act Local” is becoming a reality. States, as well as political organizations are having to reinvent themselves.
Exponential technological development
The time taken by a certain technology to travel from laboratory to marketplace and the time taken for its adoption, is getting shorter. Information technologies are largely behind this acceleration, because they are themselves at work in the process of invention. End user adoption is equally more rapid as they are effectively ‘hidden’, and only those used consecutively become known to a population who have understood and integrated their codes and ergonomics
New industrial paradigms
Scientific management is a model for competitiveness based on performance:
“Getting better and better at what we know how to do” and gain some leeway over the competition. The recent arrival of infant industries from emerging countries requires a review of this model, or rather its enrichment. “Do things differently, or do something else with what we know how to do” is becoming the model of companies who think about their future. Innovation management is replacing scientific management.
New Market paradigms
Marketing has fed market renewal to the point that until a short while ago, planned obsolescence had been considered a virtue. Changing the car or dishwasher every 3 years is no longer reasonable. The ecological awareness of frugality will emerge in consumers who will consciously reconsider the heritage value of the property they own. We no longer throw away, but repair, recycle, keep, share…
Some industrial sectors will disappear and / or have to adapt. Moving from product to service is the challenge of many consumer goods industries.
The Designer’s Responsibility
Changing the era
An open, changing, fast and abundant world.
An unstable world, without reference points, difficult to define.
A complex world.
This is the world in which designers work today.
The Age of Enlightenment gave us mastery of the world and the emancipation of each individual, and ‘reason’ as a tool to do so. It spawned the Industrial Revolutions led by new actors that were engineers.
The 20th century promised material happiness for all – the creation of riches and abundance. Marketers made the world consumable and desirable.
In our 21st century, faced with the limits of our consumerist models, we are driven to change our behaviour and to live and succeed together in a different way on this planet that is now so small, so fragile, so precious.
Here we are invited to design.
It is the designer’s primary responsibility to ensure this era of change.
Give new meaning
It is possible to pick up the Enlightenment project, the emancipation of individuals, through an approach that gives new meaning to the large and small moments of our public or private, professional or intimate, individual or collective lives.
This method is the one designers use. They have methods and know-how that are human-centered, starting from these life situations, through to imagining the conditions for successful and memorable experiences.
Connecting knowledge to innovation
This new interaction between professionals which emphasizes the quality of experiences, involves dialogue between the disciplines that are driving them, and more generally between all disciplines. That’s one of the strengths of design schools.
Now ‘design’ must infiltrate businesses, their management, their labs, their project teams by hiring designers.
This convergence of disciplines, through design and the presence of designers, is the condition required for innovation, whereby innovation is the meeting of an invention and its use, and therefore its market.
Allowing everyone to live quality experiences and facilitating harmonious living while respecting the equilibrium of the planet? This is summed up in one sentence: “producing beauty,” this beauty not being a goal in itself, but a consequence of a global human-centered approach.
In the 21stcentury, design is humanism.
The Responsibilities of design schools
Training tomorrow’s managers
By their practice, designers have the task of being the mediators between disciplines by placing creation at the heart of processes and by affirming beauty as the goal of our individual and collective experiences.
Universities, engineering schools and business schools have trained the elite in the fields of science, technology, marketing and finance. On the other hand, design schools train players in the fields of creation and innovation, focusing on usages and practices, while reconciling all these requirements.
Design schools have the greater responsibility of training managers of the 21st century.
Design, Management, Entrepreneurship: the Design Mix
Design schools have always offered multidisciplinary education – a “design mix” –an eco-system where research, training and socio-economic players interact. While representation techniques are more than ever at the heart of their pedagogies, enriched and transformed by digital technology, they make most sense when associated with evidence-based knowledge in the field of humanities, complex sciences, of processes, deployed through a methodological approach invoking creativity, project management as well as mediation. Indeed, they teach sharing, the sharing of ideas which must be well communicated in order to be shared.
Following a user-centric approach they also instruct companies with their tactical challenges (new products, new services …) and with their strategic issues (new jobs, new organizations, new management processes …).
Beyond the ability to innovate and manage, the final step involves giving students the ability to become entrepreneurs of their own projects. Having ideas is no longer enough, they must be implemented and tested in society and markets. Design schools are destined to become incubation centres for new projects for a more responsible and sustainable entrepreneurship.
A generalized teaching of design
The spirit of “design and innovation” should also be shared. Transversal ties with other institutions of higher education are central to the development issues of design schools, that multiply academic partnerships to promote sharing of knowledge and practices.
These common creative work processes promote further reflection or even reinvention of teaching: Mooc, flipped classroom, project-based teaching, multidisciplinary, creativity, rehabilitation of hand work?, are all themes to which design contributes using an innovative approach.
The responsibility of design schools also lies in promoting creativity and innovation in National Education: in primary and secondary school classes.
Designers are committed to bring meaning to our changing world. Schools are aware of their responsibility to train the managers of tomorrow in a social and economic environment sitting on shifting paradigms.
Design is key lever of development for businesses and rapidly changing societies that need innovation and projection. Design schools carry the dual promise of training professionals for tomorrow’s society, and responsible members of a Mankind that should be preserved, if not saved.
Finally, French design schools also have a responsibility to spread the French culture, spirit and genius in Europe and throughout the world, as has been the case at every turning point in history. Through an established “Design by France” strategy our schools aim to be unique and universal at the same time, because the blossoming of individual talent becomes the condition of our collective successes.