The Rise of Design-Led Businesses

By Andy.

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable shift among many businesses, as they have looked to place design at the very core of their decisions. Many large brands have integrated design as a strategic tool and let it shape how they operate, but how does this work and what are the benefits? We thought we would take a look…

Placing design at the heart of a business is a bold move, and one that can completely shift how they are set out, how they function and even who they employ, but why is it needed? Recently, Design Week, as part of their Age of Design series, held a roundtable to discuss the recent trend.

Speaking at the event, Mat Hunter, strategy director at the Central Research Laboratory, said: ‘Digital technology has been a huge lubricant of change. It’s causing fierce competition and when you have that, you have to use every tool in the box. Design is part of that toolkit. No amount of organisational information or technology alone is enough. You have to understand how to be creative.’

I thought this was a really interesting point, because Hunter chooses to describe design like any other tool (efficiency, costing, marketing etc) which can be used to fending off competition.

In an interview with Airbnb founder, Joe Gebbia, he details why him and his fellow founded Brian Chesky decided to put design at the heart of their business which now operates in 34,000 cities across 190 countries.

After describing how they both actually come from a design background (they worked on a joint project together at Design School!) he elaborated. He said: “Design is in our DNA, it is not something that you think about adding on afterwards, it’s not something that we hired for eventually, it is something that has always been a part of who we are.”

Of course, not everybody can afford to have the most expansive, highly-equipped and beautifully inspiring offices like Airbnb, but their approach can be taken by any business confident enough to embrace design.