Let me tell you about 21st-century design, 'cause hey, we're in the 21st century. But designers, well, a lot of them are still in the 20th century.
If you look at design education, the traditional design education comes from a school of usually art and design, or sometimes architecture, art, and design.
And you learn this craft of design, you learn the wonderful skills that make beautiful objects that we love to look at, and love to hold, love to touch.
Those are physical objects. And, you know, inside there's often a computer and so how do we make it so people can actually use the system and understand what's going on, and design the interactive graphics?
Or how do we design a procedure, or how do we design a service, and that's not covered in traditional design.
In fact, if I'm designing a service like being you know, in a waiting line at a bank, or at a cafeteria, or at customs control, I don't need those craft skills, I'm not building anything that's going to be beautiful to look at.
But I do wanna build something that takes account of all of the needs of all the people.
Service design is a fairly new discipline. But to me, it's sort of the basis of the future because service design introduces two wonderful new components.
One of them they call the journey map, in which I look at what it feels like, and what I have to go through from the time I, as a customer, say, come into a store, or a bank, or for that matter, the customs.
All the different steps I must go through and what I must do in order to get through, that's the journey map.
But I actually wanna do that journey map just not for the customer, but also for, say, the person who interacts with me, and the first people they interact with, and the underlying systems that must be ready.
So in a cafeteria, where they're supposed to cash here, but there may also be waiters of various sorts, and there's somebody who has to prepare the food, and then somebody has to deliver it, and take it away, and clean the tables.
There's a whole range of people and things that have to work.
And so in service design, we invented the service blueprint.
And the service blueprint has two dimensions, the vertical, the horizontal.
The horizontal is basically the journey map.
It's in time.
The vertical one is all of the different things that we interact with that make it into a system, and how they change over time.
So it's basically the journey map for each of the different components.
And we can superimpose on top of that the emotional response of each of the individuals as they go through their journey.
So where did those skills come from? How do we teach those, and what else is necessary?
Now the sidelight, recently I've been looking at what I consider the best designers in the world, and interestingly, a large number of them were not trained to design.
Some of them have undergraduate degrees in physics, or various engineering or medicine, or English, doesn't matter, because this gives them a broader understanding of the world.
And then when they start doing design, they bring this wide range understanding of the world to their practice.
Whereas if you go to a dedicated design school, you don't learn about the world.
You just learn about the craft of design.
So I wanna change design education.
I wanna have design education, not just designing a new lighting system, that's important, but traditional design can do that.
I don't wanna lose that, I love beautiful objects.
But suppose I'm called into India to design a new sanitation a new sewerage treatment and water treatment for a small village and isolate it.
No electric supply, no existing water supply at the moment, they don't have sewers installed, the people are very poor.
How would you do this? The real issue though is, how would you help the people do it?
And what are their needs and their capabilities that they bring? Because if I was asked to do the same problem in Africa, or for that matter in some of the remote areas of the United States, same problems, but I would have different solutions.
So how do we teach people? How do we instruct the future designers of the world, the kind of information they need to understand the culture, the needs of the people, to work with them, to let them dictate what is being done, and not be told by us.
That we have to deal with the economics, we have to deal with local conditions, we have to deal with the politics.
All of this, it's more of a management job in many ways than a design job.
But designers are the ones who are best equipped to do this.
Designers think broadly.
Design is a method, not a set of special components, and so what we must have in design, we must learn how to work with people from all, well, all sorts of areas, like the politicians, like people who live there, like the healthcare workers, like the people who are sick, like the people who provide jobs, like in sanitation with how do we rip up the city to put in sewers, who maybe we don't wanna do that.
And some other solutions besides sewers. What about water? How do we get clean water there, without electricity?
That's the future of design, working on what we call complex socio-technical systems.
And that's what we should be teaching to our young, aspiring designers.