The role of design and designers in creating growth and prosperity


Over 170 experts, policy makers, researchers and educators gathered at Helsinki City Hall for a day and half to discuss the future of design innovation.

The second day of the European Design Innovation Summit kicked off with a set of brief presentations outlining six views on the recommendations of the European Design Leadership Board. The presentations were followed by a vivid discussion between the panelists and the audience. The discussion was summarized by Prof Seija Kulkki when she concluded the panel session.“I am happy because you have provided, perhaps not for yourself but certainly for an outsider like me, a very conscious journey individually and collectively, describing what design can be, how it contributes to the society and make it articulated for the future – I really appreciate that – Thank you!”

Andrea Siodmok, member of the Design Leadership Board, summarized the two-fold role of the public sector in supporting growth. “It is quite clear that the public sector helps us in making prosperous socially inclusive society, but what about growth? One of the key things that we want to get across in this report is the role of the public sector underpinning the private sector growth. This can happen in two ways. One to develop a great infrastructure, great public services, good transport, good health care, all areas that are currently associated with a good public sector. The other perhaps less known or less understood earlier is its role in stimulating new markets, the role of public sector in directing market in providing confidence for business.”

The importance of the role of designers in society was emphasized by Prof Seija Kulkki. “Become conscious of your specific capacities in interpreting the future in aesthetics and value terms in a holistic way.” Kulkki concluded her presentation by encouraging the designers to take an active role in systemic innovation.

Petteri Kolinen summarized the unique potential of design for differentiation in the market place. “Design is a crucial tool for companies to differentiate and increase competitiveness. The traditional cornerstones of industries; manufacturing, logistics, sales and delivery channels give much less opportunities for differentiation.” Kolinen relied on his Nokia experience to provide a concrete example of the dangers of decentralized decision making. “This led to slowness in introducing new prodcuts, and much more conservative decisions. the company dropped from being a front runner into a follower position.”

In his keynote Stefan Sielaff outlined the history automobile industry from engineering and technology led towards design and service intensive. Sielaff emphasized the importance of balance between democracy and leadership in a successful large company. “You must have some people who have a very strong vision and can make a clear decision. You need some strong characters in the top-management, among the owners and also in the top design leadership.” Sielaff

Jyri Häkämies, Finnish minister of economy summarized the critical role of design in society and economy “Design is there to make our everyday life easier. Design has major implications and potential for economic growth and is the factor that makes one product different to another. This is relevant when we aim at higher in a value chain.”

Link to the profiles of the speakers

Link to the slides of the presentations and selected videos

Link to the photos from the European Design Innovation Summit


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