The Role of Today’s Designer: Disrupter or Storyteller?

The Role of Today’s Designer: Disrupter or Storyteller?

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_link_target=”_self” column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column_text]The first DesignMeetup launched last Wednesday at the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) in Hull.

We welcomed over fifty creatives, designers and business owners to debate, discuss and discover a fresh perspective on the value of design from two very different and talented speakers:

  1. Rob Lewis, a scientist with over three decades of experience in developing medicines and healthcare products.
  2. Jake Welsh, the founder of award-winning design agency e3creative.

Rob Lewis

Use design principles.

Rob kickstarted the evening with a fascinating talk that centred around innovation and disruption.

His first slide echoed an insightful quote from Clayton Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School:

“Disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

The scientist-turned-entrepreneur maintained that designers need to take on a leading role when it comes to product development because design plays a huge role in consumer decision-making.

With a background in pharmaceuticals, Rob has worked with a number of well-known healthcare brands and seen how design is too often an afterthought in the research and development process.

“85% of our decision making is subconscious.”

However, when design principles are used effectively, companies can enjoy brand loyalty and quickly become household names.

For example, take Nurofen, a brand that Rob has previously worked with. Many would rather pick up a pack of Nurofen that a value box of Ibuprofen. Regardless if both medications are exactly the same chemically, the branded, marked-up, package has more of an appeal to consumers and somehow taps into their subconscious as being the ‘better’ product.

“Design should be at the forefront of product development,” Rob argues.


We are all storytellers.

After munching on delicious pizza from our neighbours over at Bert’s, we piled back into the theatre to hear from Jake.

Jake’s presentation followed on perfectly from Rob’s as he focused on the changing role of a designer and how we must become storytellers, rather than simply following a client brief.

“As designers, we must take on a leadership position. Aren’t we all creative directors?” Jake asks.

“Our role is to communicate messages in a visually-engaging way that leaves a lasting impact. We must immerse ourselves in every project in order to bring our visions to fulfilment.”

Like Rob, Jake compares the branding of two products – this time, thermostats.

The first brand described what a thermostat does and promoted that they offered free delivery. Meanwhile, the second told a story about how their product would sync with your families lives, get to know your routine and learn when you get up, go to sleep and get home.

Which brand is more effective? The one that describes what we already know (what a thermostat is), or the one that illustrates how the product can impact your life?


Nest Smart Thermostat

In other words, which designer was more valuable: the one that followed the brief word-for-word, or the one that created a story around the product?

Something to take away.

What we loved about our first DesignMeetup is that both speakers gave us something thought-provoking that could be taken away and applied to our everyday thinking:

  • Be disruptive.
  • Become a storyteller.

At every DesignMeetup, we’ll be striving to provide an actionable message to motivate, encourage and inspire our attendees.

To find out more about our speakers, and when our next event is, please visit the DesignMeetup website. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]