DV Summit: Kickstarter – The role of the designer is changing
The Design Ventura summit “Design: the problem and the solution” was held on 29 March 2017. Its purpose was to bring together educators, designers, cultural providers and policy makers to discuss how they can ensure that young people are developing creativity, design thinking and employability skills to prepare them for future success.
The following extract is by Heather Corcoran, Design & Technology Outreach at Kickstarter, on her take on the issues discussed.
There is a shift happening in the way that products are coming to life. The role of the designer (and design) is changing. Whereas in traditional design practice, a designer worked with a manufacturer who dealt with production, sales and marketing, now designers are becoming their own manufacturers, distributors and marketers – creating something analogous to the independent record label in the music industry. It’s the long tail of design: empowered by the new technologies, designers can build a business by selling small quantities of rare items to many customers, as opposed to the traditional model that requires selling large quantities of a small variety of best-sellers.
What this means for design education and for young people is that ‘design entrepreneurship’ — building a new type of design studio and business — becomes a more accessible route, and another career option. But it also requires expanding what we think are ‘design skills’ to include things like clear communications and storytelling ability, to talk directly to audiences and customers; or project management of logistics like shipping or product certification. The shifting role of design requires a shift in design education, helping to open up exciting new possibilities for young people and their careers.