Kyoorius Designyatra '09: Fitch on why 'design matters'

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 07, 2009
On the second day of Kyoorius Designyatra 2009, Rodney Fitch, founder and chairman, Fitch spoke on the importance of design

The proceedings of the second day of Kyoorius Designyatra 2009 in Mumbai were kicked off by global design agency, Fitch's founder and chairman, Rodney Fitch. Through his 45-minute presentation titled 'Design Matters', Fitch emphasised the importance of design.

"Design genes are present in all of us, and hence, we must take it very seriously," said Fitch. He pointed out reasons why design matters.

Design is the hope of the world; the foremost purpose of design is to give hope of a better future, said Fitch. Citing examples such as the changing face of Britain from the beginning of the industrial revolution, he explained how design facilitates the hope for a better world.

"However, when design is bad, it's awful. Good enough is not good enough," Fitch warned.

He then moved on to saying that design is a universal language and "People really care about it". The simplicity and clarity of design makes it a "potent force". Fitch used examples such as Google, Wikipedia and Apple, showing how design in the virtual space is readily accepted worldwide.

Speaking of globalisation through design, he spoke of brand acceptance, citing how brands such as Coca Cola, Vodafone and Starbucks are globally popular.

"Design is not a private affair. The whole world thinks about and acts upon it," he said. Here, he used the example of international home products retailer, IKEA, whose catalogue, Fitch said, is "universally read more than the Holy Bible". IKEA is based on the design business and its furniture appeals to everyone, he said.

To show how design is also a participative concept, Fitch spoke of the American photographer, Spencer Tunick, who is known for staging pictures with thousands of naked people in public settings.

"Participation is good, because it brings the public into play, rather than restricting a design idea just between designers and clients," said Fitch.

Fitch also spoke of the vociferous public debate over the design proposed to develop Chelsea Barracks, a British Army barracks located in one of London's most expensive residential areas, which, it was announced, would be sold.

The design proposed by British architect, Richard Rogers came in for heavy public criticism, drawing the attention of Charles, Prince of Wales as well. Rogers protested that the public did not understand architecture.

Fitch thrashed Rogers' views, saying that the architect has a responsibility to involve the public and should welcome criticism.

Fitch then spoke of design being the handmaiden of innovation. "Anybody can believe he is innovative, but only design brings innovation," he said, citing examples of the tetra pack design and the design of the first departmental store in London.

Referring to children as the designers of tomorrow, he furthered the significance of design, saying that "it is what our children live by". He emphasised the need to develop a child's simplicity to see the things around at all stages of development.

He then highlighted design as being the "bedrock of modern business". Design is a growing and important component of all business, and every business is built around a design proposition, he said, giving examples of leading brands such as Kingfisher, Sony, Apple and even the much spoken of car, Tata Nano.

"Compare Apple and Dell. Where would Apple be if it was just a simple computer?" Fitch pointed out. No business can be successful without the platform of good, innovative and genuine design, he said.

As his final point, Fitch said that design is important because it is what people do and must care a lot about it. Here, he spoke of how impressed he was by the successful Indian entries at the latest Cannes festival.

"There are very strong design genes in Indian advertising agencies. If India is to grow in the world and become an economic force, it needs all the design it can get," Fitch lauded.

To sum up his presentation, Fitch said that "Design is everything."

"Design transcends politics, prejudice, language and physical boundaries. It is the platform on which the human experience is built," he concluded.

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