A designer is not just a craftsman. He’s also a thinker!

If you follow the recent discussion about design in the international press there clearly is an emphasis on the growing importance of design made in Asia. Among various reasons the continuous outsourcing of labour intensive tasks to Asia say China, Taiwan or Korea for many years now brings back the aesthetics and visual language of these regions back to the western hemisphere. While in the past we’ve seen the Tiger-states mostly producing and copying western products they now manage to catch up by developing their own creative industries infrastructure in order to compete with the formerly western dominated design paradigms. This becomes quite obvious if you consider the amount of design and engineering schools now emerging in India, China, Taiwan & Korea among others. Korea is no exception here as well however one of the latest prominent examples of this turn around from being a copycat producer to a world class consumer brand is Samsung Electronics. Maybe this story among others is also fostered by the fact Korea alone has 230 design schools which is more than America! In a recent article in BusinessWeek Online you can find an interview with Lee Kun Pyo, director of the Human-Centered Interaction Design Laboratory at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology. BusinessWeek Asia Editor David Rocks and Seoul Bureau Chief Moon Ihlwan recently sat down with Lee in Seoul. One of the triggers for the interview has clearly been Samsung’s success story:

“Over the past decade, Korea’s Samsung Electronics has transformed itself from a copycat producer of uninspiring goods into one of the world’s top consumer-electronics brands. Much of that transformation is due to a shift in power at the company from engineers to designers. Samsung’s rebirth has inspired other Korean companies to place a greater emphasis on design — in fact, it has energized the country’s design community.”

However one of the key insights which underpins the importance of post graduate programmes (especially in the western hemisphere) offered at the Zollverein School as well are:

“So at that time, a designer’s problem was deciding how it should look. You needed to know how to draw. But now, companies are trying to be first in the world with innovative products. So you can’t simply rely on drawing skills. A designer is not just a craftsman. He’s also a thinker.”

One Response to “A designer is not just a craftsman. He’s also a thinker!”

  1. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » MBA and now? Go to India! Says:

    […] I’ve already written some pieces about the growing importance of India and China on this blog recently. A few minutes ago David Griffiths, a friend of mine from the design management context and a lecturer at the Zollverein School send me this email: […]

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