In the wake of London Fashion Week and London Design Festival, we look back at some of the most interesting events across the city and reflect upon some of the wider issues and ideas that businesses should take away.
Overall, it was encouraging to see so much focus of this year’s festival on design's commercial skills and expertise applied beyond product design and creative studios. With many exhibitions, talks and interactive events, discussing business imperatives including design thinking, process models and multi-disciplinary design in wider contexts.
The most noteworthy areas of focus from our point of view can be grouped into three core areas.
Urbanization and architecture
While it’s nothing new to see an array of projects that encompass both design and architecture, the themes of future cities and urbanisation were more prevalent than ever before. Primarily led by the festival’s continuing partnership with British Land, every design hub across the city featured an exhibition or installation that considered cities and urban planning.
Considering how many professional services businesses that are either directly engaged or interested in subjects such as future living, it’s interesting to see how different design thinkers are approaching the area. In an engaging talk hosted by McKinsey Design on The Business Value of Design, Jannis Sutor, Business Innovation at Volkswagen, described how his company's offer has, through adopting a design thinking approach, evolved from ‘car manufacturing’ to the wider idea of city ‘mobility’ – and are now looking at vertical movement, autonomous vehicles, interactive interiors and IoT devices.
Various other firms, which weren’t always directly related to architecture and design, also gave insights around their attitudes towards innovation in urbanisation. This all connects seamlessly to the debate we’ve been driving with our property clients, accompanied by our own research into what ‘placemaking’ is and how it should be shaping planning going forward. Cumulative viewpoints are agreeing that people-centred planning and deliberate moments of curated experience will drive built environments which are both authentic and impactful. This is something that Infinite Global’s team are acutely focused on for all of our clients, irrespective of sector, as we head into 2019.
BIGGER data – analytics and measurement for designing the future
All design festivals include that handful of fascinating installations based on algorithmic design. This year we saw humans talking to voice-enabled IoT objects, design-it-yourself 3D printers and a Trafalgar Square lion eating user-generated content.
But more widely, we experienced the innovative ways in which designers and businesses are looking to draw insights from data in order to improve their work. Using design thinking – or simply by placing designers in multi-disciplinary teams – businesses are utilizing a wider than ever set of tools and platforms. While these insights are primarily used to study users, audiences and trends prior to embarking on product design, experience design, business advice or consultancy, we learned of many additional ways in which designers and businesses are using data and metrics, beyond just delivery, to continue to iterate and improve product or service, and outperform competition.
Those businesses slow to consider these concepts in their planning risk falling behind as technology and agility continue to disrupt marketplaces. At Infinite Global, our dedication to expansive research and discovery at the outset of any project allows us to define and reference against measurable objectives and KPIs throughout development, delivery and beyond.
In spite of Brexit, London will continue to lead the world in design
With the support of Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and a fantastic variety of design on display from major (and many minor) venues across the city, the London Design Festival was as much about the city as it was about the creative and collaborative talent that the city attracts.
Moreover the 2018 festival presented ways in which London, alongside the international design community, continue to think smartly and creatively around the future of all of our industries and interests. Leading design venues showcases these core themes – London Design Museum's VR-driven 'Mind Pilot' balloon (pictured) and the V&A's modular MultiPly installation being two more immersive experiences. More and more digital and data-driven projects, in an ever-contemporary approach, persist in pushing boundaries of creativity.
This year’s design festival, alongside London Fashion Week, has really clarified how important London is in driving the global design discussion – of which we at Infinite Global are very proud to have a part in, for the benefit of clients both in the UK and US.
Image: Felix Spellor, designmuseum.org