In my work as innovation advisor and business researcher, I have often been struggling with concepts, problems and phenomenon which are difficult to grasp, and even more difficult to explain. One of the most important learnings throughout my career has been to insist on drawing what I do not understand. Often it is impossible at first, but I have come to learn that once I succeed in actually drawing the “complexity” that I am struggling with, only then I REALLY understand.
Therefore it makes good sense – at least to me – that the word “design” partly originates from the italian or latin word “disegnare”, which means “to draw”.
Because design to me is exactly that: when someone has made an effort to understand, and use this understanding as a departure point for creating unique and meaningful solution to an important problem.
Good design to me is when I – as a user – feel understood.
Because to me, design is not merely a product or a new solution. Great design is when something or someone helps me solve a problem, which I have not been able to solve on my own. In a better way or a different way. And the word “exertion” is to me quite central in the design equation.
Design does not emerge by coincidence. Design happens only when it is really wanted; when a problem feels important enough for someone to be willing to spend the necessary time, energy and resources on finding a new and better solution. A solution which insists on a deep understanding on the user.
In Denmark we have strong traditions for this humble interest and passing for understanding the user, and to use this curiosity to design and create simple solutions which excite the user. Our challenge in Danish design going forward is – in my humble view – that we maintain this humbleness, this curiosity towards different users, different problems and different collaborators, than the ones we have been used to in the past.