This is the fourth installment in an eight-part series that examines the social role of design beyond its aesthetic aspect. The weekly series is a precursor to Herald Design Week 2013 from Oct. 7-11, which will be organized under the theme of “Re-imagine the World.” ― Ed.
When Paris Baguette, a leading bakery chain in Korea, announced it would enter the purified water market with its new premium water brand “Eau” in 2010, few expected that the retailer with no experience in the market could survive the competition with the slew of local and global brands here, even though the brand was jointly developed with Karim Rashid, a world-famous industrial designer.
Contrary to market expectations, Eau water, in a bottle with a very modern and stylish design, made a splash in the bottled water market.
“The design-driven success of Eau reflects a big change in consumer trends. The company targeted an emerging customer group of those who care more about the design or style of a product than the quality of the product,’’ said Kim Bo-young, an assistant professor from Seoul School of Integrated Sciences & Technologies.
|Graphic by Park Gee-young|
Customers these days are living in an era of “everything is possible,” thanks to growing affluence, technology development and the spread of social networks. They are more demanding, knowledgeable, self-expressive and proactive than ever before. Some of them not only consume products or services but also create a market based on the shared network and value.
“Their enthusiasm for expressing their aesthetic tastes in their lives will grow faster and this is why a growing number of companies seek design or creativity-driven management,’’ Kim said. Evolution of design center to idea bank
The definition of design management has varied. For instance, New York-based Pratt Institute defines design management as the identification and allocation of creative assets within an organization to create a strategic, sustainable advantage.
“Broadly speaking, we can say a company adopts design management if the company utilizes its design resource in developing a management strategy or doing management innovation activities,” said Kim, who received her Ph.D. in design management at the Brunel Engineering & Design School in Britain.
The ultimate goal of design management is to raise communication or intercalation with customers, she added.
If a company utilizes its design resource in a sustainable way, it is important for the company to have a control tower like a design center within it
The role of a corporate design center has been evolving in line with rising demand for design management. In the early stages, a design center, led by industrial designers, simply was in charge of the design of a product that a research and development center develops.
The latest trend in design-related organization within a company is to merge three creative and communication-related departments ― branding, marketing and design.
“The integrated design center where professionals with varied backgrounds work transforms into an idea bank dealing with an array of business issues, including product development,” Kim said.
The design center of Philips, a Dutch multinational electronics conglomerate, is often mentioned as an example for the “idea bank” type design center.
The center even reportedly discusses what future value the company should seek in an effort to develop future products for global customers.
“Korea’s leading conglomerates, including Samsung, LG and Hyundai, run their own in-house design centers, but these centers have yet to seek an integrated model,” Kim said.
The design management center of Samsung Electronics, for example, is run separately from branding and marketing functions. The core role of the center whose workforce reaches 700 worldwide is to support the design and style of developed products.
“Korean companies, big or small, still put more focus on production and quality management rather than management of their creative assets,’’ Kim said. Design-driven innovation in service sector
As the service industry is growing at a fast pace, not only manufacturers but also service firms are seeking design-driven innovation. One such successful case is Umpqua Bank, a regional bank with more than 64 branches located in Oregon, U.S. The bank changed public perception toward banking services. With help from Ziba Consulting, a world-leading design consultancy, branches of the bank were reborn as design-savvy “community” bank branches, which offer customers coziness, like a hotel.
Branches of Umpqua Bank are not boring places only for money transactions anymore. They have turned to fun and comfortable places to keep customers coming back.
“More companies are expected to adopt design management as design could be a vehicle to meet rising esthetic needs of customers,” Kim said.
By Seo Jee-yeon (email@example.com