09/02/2014

The Business of Design

While the qualitative elements of design might be what ignite passion and inspiration and pleasure, we need to put the color wheels and fabric swatches aside, and replace them with pie charts and Excel sheets, and be prepared to talk bottom line business.

By Erika Templeton

 

Erika Templeton | Editorial Director

The idea that design is an expense, the icing on the cake, is an idea based on a fundamental misunderstanding about what design is and what designers do.

We have some reputation management to do, to show that what was once the stuff of “home ec” is now an essential, quantifiable practice. While the qualitative elements of design might be what ignite passion and inspiration and pleasure, we need to put the color wheels and fabric swatches aside, and replace them with pie charts and Excel sheets, and be prepared to talk bottom line business.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with ASID Director of Marketing Research Andy Whittaker for lunch, and as he explained all of the research initiatives they are supporting, I couldn’t help but think the results would mark a watershed moment for the business case for design. Stay tuned for May 2015, when the full results of their efforts start to come out. We will certainly be following these developments closely here.

Meanwhile, as we wait for the numbers on the horizon, we can still explore the business of design in some more qualitative ways.

We’ve gathered up some of our favorite branded retail, restaurant, and office environments from around the world to explore how designers translate a brand identity into living, breathing spaces . Plus, we visited the showrooms of Carnegie and Daltile/Mohawk Group to see what happens when sales environments are created by designers for designers. (Spoiler alert: it’s all about experience and community-building, not the sale itself.)

And speaking of the bottom line, we are thrilled to be a supporter of Be Original Americas, the non-profit organization dedicated to fighting against cheap counterfeit goods. Check out this month’s Field Notes for a rundown of the dangers of living in a knockoff culture—and what we can all do to protect the industry. As Peter Conant of Vocon Architects says in this month's Profile, "The more we know about business the better designers we're going to be. And the more our clients will value our work." Indeed, some good words to live by.

 

 
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