The Triveneto, as we all know, is a kaleidoscope of small and micro companies with a way of understanding and doing business deeply rooted in its territory. Last December the DME Awards took place in Lisbon. The DME Awards celebrate European companies of all sizes that have integrated design into their internal management processes and company cultures.
Leaving out larger companies and thus giving possibilities of increased investment, I would like to linger on the winners of the last three years of the DME Awards reserved for micro companies: Puff-buff (Poland, DME Award 2010), VanMoof (Holland, DME Award 2009), Senz Umbrellas (Holland, DME Award 2008). These companies, which were placed in the category “Micro Company” by the European Design Centre due to their limited dimensions (in terms of organization, sales, economic resources, investment capability etc..), are shining examples of what can be achieved with a healthy dose of elbow grease, active and trained synapses, managerial farsightedness and culture of design.
It is fruitless to lose ourselves in boring and long-winded company analyses and case histories; these companies simply have design culture within their DNA and are able to express it in all of its possible variations. But we can’t and mustn’t stop at stimulating our companies, we must also stimulate the designers and the design studios to do better, to integrate and nurture a culture of Design Management within their work.
With this in mind, I want to bring your attention to the Muzus studio (Holland, Honorable Mention at the DME Awards 2009) which has made design management a target of daily research and continued elaboration.
The theme of design management is so little known that some of you may be asking yourselves “what in the world we are talking about?” It’s difficult to explain design management in just a few words, but we’ll give it a try. The design that we find ourselves dealing with day to day is straying more and more into the fields of style research and innovation, often masterfully so, but without a solid, integrated foundation. Up until a few years ago, in order to overcome the challenges of the market, one needed only good design and good research. Nowadays, submerged as we are in the redundancies of the global market, this is no longer enough. You need to create strong ties between company management and design culture, you need to teach entrepreneurs about design and designers about company management. In terms of micro business, all of this applies and then some. The examples cited above tell us that we don’t live in a utopia, but reality. The crisis challenges all of to adopt innovated industrial design processes.
The culture of design management in Italy has found it difficult to assert itself and stand out. It is often alienated by the continuous pursuit of a way of designing which is often too limited by style and fashion. The vast number of books dedicated to design and the scarcity of those dedicated to design management is another example. Therefore, i’ll take advantage of this occasion to indicate some books that I have found interesting in my own research on Design Management, as well as conclude by stealing a quote from the great Bruno Munari: “There are those who feel their creativity is blocked when confronted with having to respect rules when doing a project. ‘Where does my personality end up?’ they ask themselves. Are we all going crazy? Are we all robots? It will take them a great effort to figure out that certain things are done first and others later. Creativity doesn’t mean improvisation without method.”
Suggestions for Design Management reading:
Gino Finizio ’Design & Management: gestire l’idea’ Skira Edizioni, 34 Euros.
Light, enjoyable, intuitive, full of good quality diagrams and illustrations. Superficial at times, but otherwise an excellent introduction to design management. Too bad they make you pay for it.
Galloni, Mangiarotti and various authors ’Disegnato in Italia; il design come elemento competitivo nella PMI’ Hoelpi Edizioni, 20 Euros.
The issues are confronted from the point of view of numerous, important professionals in the sector. The conclusions often coincide; the different conceptual paths carried out in various interventions are interesting. The case history appendix is rich: Alessi, Fontana Arte, Samsonite, Tod’s, Vortice, Zucchetti and many more.
Cabirio Cautela ’Strumenti di Design Management’ FrancoAngeli Edizioni, 16 Euros.
A step-by-step guide that accompanies the entrepreneur and designer in defining a design management project. Very precise and technical but never too complex, accompanied by effective, summarizing diagrams. Given its layout, some content can be considered superfluous for a designer who is already active in designing with guided creative processes. Instead, it is strongly suggested for small entrepreneurs that want to debate the activities of consolidated design in their companies. Perhaps too much practical stuff, a bit more of a deeper cultural analysis could have been useful.
Brigitte Borja de Mozota ’Design Management: La cultura del progetto al centro della strategia d’impresa’ FrancoAngeli Edizioni, 28 Euros.
Without a doubt the most complete and interesting. In respect to the previous texts described, the issue of Design Management is confronted in a much more profound way. The weight of this book is truly important, both in terms of pages as well as content. There isn’t even the hint of a diagram or illustration, only a lot to read and with a certain concentration. Excellent in-depth study, to be avoided by whoever is taking his or her first steps towards design management. The cost/benefit factor is enviable. Without a doubt a reference point not to be left out of the cultural education of an entrepreneur and designer interested in innovated business processes.
by Alessandro Barison
(Images kindly granted by VanMoof and Senz Umbrellas)
Parigi; Amsterdam; Praga.