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    What is Design?

    The understanding and the application of design is continuously expanding. In the last few years, design has been broadening in scope from product development and graphics to a more strategic role incorporating diverse disciplines like design thinking, service design, eco-design, social innovation and sustainable development. Defining design and capturing its nuances is inevitably going to lead to debate but a number of official definitions have been proposed:

    Design is a tool for the realisation of innovation. It is the activity of conceiving and developing a plan for a new or significantly improved product, service or system that ensures the best interface with user needs, aspirations and abilities, and allows for aspects of economic, social and environmental sustainability to be taken into account.
    European Commission.This definition was proposed in June 2009 as part of the public consultation on ‘design as a driver of user-centred innovation’ and was supported by 78% of respondents

    Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end.
    Design Council. The Cox Review of Creativity in Business: building on the UK’s strengths, 2005

    There are now a growing number of disciplines within design including:

    Service Design: can be both tangible and intangible. It can involve artefacts and other things including communication, environment and behaviours. Whichever form it takes it must be consistent, easy to use and have strategic alliance.
    .[Total Design: Managing the design process in the service sector, Bill Hollins, 1991]

    Service design builds the customer experience, taking into account every aspect of the interaction between supplier and customer, whether this is face-to-face, on-line or via the use of a tangible product. The more sophisticated the service system, the more potential there is to create value in its delivery.

    Eco-design: is good design and good business practice through the adoption of a holistic life cycle thinking approach, which extends the vision of design beyond traditional boundaries of production and use.
    [Ecodesign Centre Wales www.edcw.org]

    Design is now gaining pan-European recognition as process that can facilitate innovation and sustainable development in various forms:

    Innovation: is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product (good or service) or process, a new marketing method, or a new organisational method in business practices, workplace organisation or external relations.
    [Oslo Manual, 2005]

    Social Innovation: refers to changes in the way individuals or communities act to solve a problem or generate new opportunities. These innovations are driven more by changes in behaviour than by changes in technology or the marketplace and typically emerge from bottom-up rather than top-down processes.
    [Ezio Manzini, Politecnico di Milano – SEE Bulletin, May 2010]

    Sustainable Development: meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept requires equal consideration of economic productivity, social balance and environmental protection. None of the three sustainability dimensions – economy, society and environment – should be developed at the expense of the others.
    [Proposed in 1987 by the Brundtland Report and expanded in 2005 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD]

    Consequently, design is climbing the policy agenda and a number of countries including Denmark, UK, Finland, India and South Korea have implemented design policies.

    Design Policy: design policies are government strategies that aim to develop national design resources and/or to encourage their effective use in the country. Part of these strategies is to create an environment where design and creativity can flourish: where companies are encouraged to develop their own products and services, making use of the expertise of design professionals; and where the public sector work with designers in order to improve their processes and therefore provide good, accessible and inclusive services to the population.
    Design Wales 2010