Design is a tool to discover value and to approach problems. The 20th century was the age of single products; the 21st century is the age of design ecosystems and strategies. In order to grasp the depth of the problem at hand, our work includes approaches from trend research, psychology, sociology, and business strategy. Moreover, design always has a “dark spot”, a quality which goes beyond what can be rationalized through known mechanisms. If it is products, brands, or interactions, it is important to discover this quality and to define how it communicates.
A design ecosystem is not a tool to get something done as quickly as possible. Rather, it is a framework to create defined narratives in order to approach situations in particular ways. A design ecosystem can comprise a range of elements – services, brands, products, spaces, media – all of which have to interact in meaningful ways to give rise to human experience. If this experience provokes thought, appeals to the senses, or recalls memories, then it connects with uniquely human impressions.
The moment when a design partakes in a particular space and time, it does something to this space and time. It contributes to shape viewpoints, behaviours and habits, and thereby also opens or closes options for the future. Therefore, design has to be acutely aware of its social, cultural, technical and environmental context in the particular dialectic of its time. If, for instance, a particular intervention inspires a more considerate social behaviour, a particular interaction inspires people to learn something they did not know, or a particular brand inspires people to explore new viewpoints, then we can call it “good design”. Ultimately, design should translate the situations we encounter in life into experiences which inspire a better awareness of what life is all about.