October seems to be the month of meetings in the Boston design scene. I managed to attend two of them last week, and while they were very different in nature they did share some common themes about design and design thinking: it is a discipline, a process, a field of study, a term going mainstream, and above all a business imperative.

On October 5th AIGA Boston hosted an evening discussion titled Design 2014: Harnessing the Power of Design Thinking Now. This panel discussion focused on the application of design principles to existing and emerging challenges in business, community, and academia. On October 7th at Reebok’s headquarters the Design Industry Group of Massachusetts hosted its Design Means Business conference. Over 200 people attended this event, and Collective Next supported it with our scribing throughout the day. These two events saw a number of presenters sharing interesting design and business insights, resulting in some notable quotes. Here are my top ten:

  • Best definition of Design: “Arranging elements to create purpose”. A universal truth that is elegantly simple
  • “Have depth of craft but be able to apply principles of your craft broadly” I took this to mean have experience in something like spatial design principles or user experience design and then contribute your insight from these design principles to a team challenge like designing the lobby of a bank.
  • “Design is the purposeful flow of information. Interesting dialogues happen at the borders of disciplines.” Engaging people at the edge of their spectrum allows theme to speak in their native design language but with an oppeness to unlikely connections of ideas.
  • “The paper clip is still around.” Design is durable until something comes along to replace it.
  • “Mapping is a core design competency.” One of the key skills and a form of intelligence for a designer is pattern-matching, the ability to see the random connections between seemingly disparate objects
  • “Come in to work stupid every day.” Have a learner’s mindset about the work you do and the possibilities may appear before you
  • “The best moment in design is the night before we show our work to our client.” This is when there is team unity, pride and celebration in the design and creation….before the client sees it and casts a new, sometimes shadowed, perspective on the design.
  • “Design favors creation. Designers are good at developing options. Management favor analysis. Managers are good at optimizing outcomes.”
  • “Innovation is a team sport” from Chris Michaud at Continuum when talking about the breakthrough toothbrush design and packaing for Preserve.
  • “We will not have anywhere USA on the best real estate on the eastern seaboard.” When Mitchell Weiss spoke of Boston’s Innovation District he eloquently described the vision for maintaining the historical integrity of the area and designing the city space with this design principle at the core.

DIGMA Q&A Panel that focused on people as part of the design process:

Graphic Recording