Industrial design will shape the modern economy

Today’s consumers are inundated with a vast array of new product and service developments that have revolutionized our way of life. Indeed, iconic designs are all around us, from smartphones and video games, minimalist furniture and electrical appliances to airplanes, transport, digital solutions and medical devices.

We have come a long way from the nascent stages of industrial design to today’s sophisticated innovations that promise to meet the needs of economies and societies in a user-oriented, functional, aesthetic and competitive way.

In this context, governments must embrace industrial design as a creative force shaping today’s economies, in addition to addressing many critical challenges that require design-intensive solutions. Many governments and companies have created dedicated design agencies or units to integrate and strengthen design activities in their operations.

Commendable Benefits

This has led to many laudable benefits, as demonstrated by a significant body of evidence, such as improved sales performance, high innovation, competitive advantage, business growth, and job creation.

In 2018, consulting firm McKinsey published a study on the value of design in business, using data extracted from 300 publicly traded companies over five years and spanning various industries. The researchers concluded that design-intensive companies were successful in generating industry benchmark growth at a two-to-one ratio, in addition to having higher revenue and shareholder returns.

Given the abundance of evidence extolling the value of design, it’s no surprise how many design-intensive economies are paving the way to support innovators who will continue to create breakthrough design solutions. There are many lessons to be learned from these economies that are at the forefront of design.

Finland is a fantastic illustration of a country that has harnessed the power of design to boost economic returns and improve society’s quality of life. Interestingly, its design ventures generated a staggering €12.3 billion in revenue in 2018. Famous worldwide for its beautiful Scandinavian minimalist aesthetic and ingenious designs, Finnish design has spearheaded many developments new products and service reengineering projects.

Its national Design Finland program includes many innovative programs, such as introducing design culture into early childhood education curricula and school education, rolling out special design education programs for employees public sector to enable them to reinvent public services and the publication of design toolkits to promote design. directed activities, such as crowdsourcing, co-designing, prototyping and piloting.

Meanwhile, many countries have dedicated regulations that protect designers’ creative ideas from imitation or unauthorized production by third parties. Prime examples include South Korea’s intellectual property system, which has a smooth registration process for specific patent requirements, coupled with the Industrial Design Protection Act to protect property rights. intellectual.

In the Middle East region, the UAE has been at the forefront of adopting industrial design as a key economic lever. The new UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technologies was a strategic move to boost the country’s industrial sector. A series of special policies have been formulated with many revolutionary measures, such as talent attraction, provision of design infrastructure and equipment for innovators, logistics support, technological advancement and supply of raw materials used during manufacture.

Governments with a proven track record in industrial design have implemented a number of progressive policies. Understanding consumer needs and global challenges can help channel design efforts into tailored solutions.

Education is at the heart of such a policy, in which world-class design programs are integrated into school curricula and full-fledged courses are offered in universities, fully equipped with the latest technology and equipment to support innovators. .

For example, major Japanese universities offer cutting-edge industrial design programs that merge aesthetics, science, and engineering with behavioral science to enable students to create groundbreaking products or services.

Global value chains

A suite of essential services could support the work of design-intensive businesses, such as applying for funding support, providing incubation centers and design spaces with incorporation incentives, advisory support , local and foreign matchmaking programs to enhance global value chains, fast patent registration services, and tax breaks.

Special regulations on the protection of intellectual property rights of designs and models should also be enacted. Moreover, promoting strategic partnerships between research centres, academic institutions, public sector bodies and private companies can ensure that local innovations reach critical mass in the market.

A special media campaign should be designed to sensitize the various target audiences to the importance of industrial design as a key economic and social principle. Documentaries could shed light on the unique industrial designs that have sparked breakthroughs in the way we live today. Furthermore, the theme of industrial design deserves to be given pride of place in renowned exhibitions and trade shows, as well as in consumer exhibitions celebrating the contributions of innovative designs to improving the quality of our lives and strengthening of our savings.

A number of world-class design museums have been established to feature permanent design-themed exhibitions. To illustrate, the Design Museum in London impresses visitors with its magnificent architectural and interior beauty, in addition to housing a design collection houses a marvelous collection from the 19th century to modern innovations, covering key design elements, such as fashion , furniture, architecture, product and graphic design, digital media and transport. On the other hand, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York has an amazing collection of over 210,000 design objects spanning 30 centuries of history.

Governments can certainly leverage the ingenuity of its creative workforce to embrace industrial design as a fundamental tenet of their economies. Its potential contributions can be far-reaching in today’s evolving economies.

Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with interests in human development policy and literature


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