Last night’s Designerly Thinking event with Bill Moggridge, co-founder of Ideo, was thought provoking as expected. I felt like a bit of an interloper in a room full of design people who had come to see one of their idols. And we weren’t disappointed – Bill was clear, honest, very modest but also very insightful. The success of Ideo (described by some as the most successful design agency ever having designed the first computer mouse for Apple way back in 1980 amongst other things) has been largely down to an interdisciplinary approach and making people ‘live together’ or at least ‘work together’ over a prolonged period. When they first brought in a human factors expert, nobody spoke to them for the first 3 months, but after 6 months everybody wanted them on their team.
The most interesting observation for me was the way that design is perceived in the UK verses the US, where Bill, a Brit, now lives and works. In the UK, I get the sense that designers see themselves as different species to business people, using intuitive rather than logical thinking. In the US the boundaries are more blurred, largely due to necessity. One person I spoke to in the room also suggested that choosing to follow a design career path immediately implies a liberal political persuasion that is by its very nature anti-capitalist. Nico, our host for the evening from Spy Media, made a passing comment that he thought more designers should read the economist and it strikes me that a more complementary rather than confrontational approach between design and business would be to the benefit for both.