Discovering the language of design and business

Dsc00453 I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with three young Singaporean product designers yesterday. Lynnette, shown on the left, graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic just two and half years ago. I couldn’t resist asking her to pose for me in the HMV showroom, with one of her designs released by her previous employer. It’s not only in market, it’s in all their showroom in the country as a point of sale system to sample music.

Preferring to maintain anonymity, she would just say that now she works for a global consumer brand, as a Jr Designer. What intrigued me, however, was her story of how she discovered the way to ensure that her particular product concepts would get selected for manufacture. This is a designer’s biggest dilemma. Working on their concepts and sketches only to have them rejected by the powers that be. Lynnette told me that when she first started out, she found that every design she submitted to the product marketing team was inevitably rejected in favor of another.

On pondering the problem, she realised that she would, like many young designers, expect them to be able to see why a particular concept or product design was better suited for the market than another. That was the way it worked in school, but in school, teachers are designers too, and they understand the language of a visual.

In business, however, when decisions have to be made on which particular design should be manufactured for a market, the potential return on the investment is of particular concern. She realised that  she would have to talk to them in their language – in terms of consumer behaviour, usability issues and styling trends. 

Soon, picking up the language of business used by the MBA marketing professionals and product managers, she began presenting her concept sketches in terms that they would understand, rather than expecting them to understand the language of a 3D rendering or concept sketch. Now, just two and half years out of school, she already has one product in the market, and her current employer has already sent her on global marketing meetings to the Middle East, Russia and Japan.

Can I just say that I was very impressed, and she would be a catch for any global design firm? Email me if you’re interested in more information.

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2 Responses to Discovering the language of design and business

  1. Ralf Beuker says:

    Hi Niti,
    good story and congrats to Lynnette! Interestingly what you’ve described above is exactly what I’ve experienced in my more than 5 years ongoing history in teaching Strategic Management to post graduate designers in MA & MBA Design Management programmes.
    In addition to what you describe above I try to encourage not to (completely) adapt to the “language of business” but rather combine the best of both worlds. Call it: Appyling the semantics of business to communicate (design) solutions for (wicked!) problems (I trust that this is what you actually said with my own words ;-). Or shall we call it: Design Thinking!?
    Cheers and have a good time!
    Ralf.

  2. Niti Bhan says:

    Design thinking it is, Ralf!

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