This morning started like it normally does. You opened eyes, maybe removed eye mask (designed), maybe put on glasses (designed), reached for a glass of water (designed), grabbed phone (designed), turned on your light (designed), got out of bed (designed), opened blinds (designed). Cut to opening door (designed) by opening knob (designed), walking to grab bus (designed)...well you get where we are going.
Everything we interact with has been in the hands, the thoughts, the dreams of someone. Some person, some team, some group has thought sometimes for minutes, hours, days and maybe years.
Their challenge. How to make this "thing" functional, durable, environmentally conscious, pleasing, interesting, and relevant? And hopefully thought inspiring?
What is design? Our favourite answer.
Would you be shocked if we told you that design is not a deemed an art by various public funders?
The respect for this sector, its people, and its potential needs to be reexamined.
Here are some strong statements to support this.
"Design is no longer easily ignored. Advances in digital technology have enabled designers in all disciplines to define their own objectives and exercise greater control over their work. What's more, design has grown to become a significant factor in pursing the social, political and environmental challenges faced at local and global levels. Exposure to the culture of design (be it fashion, interior, digital or otherwise) has social and intellectual significance but also has a potentially transformative role." Shauna Levy, CEO, Design Exchange, Canada's first and only museum devoted to design.
"We are missing an important and valuable public funding program to assist organizations that nurture our nascent design industry; one that is closely aligned with innovation and economic value. We need to step up and to support the design industry. We are lagging within the global arena of innovation that would clearly produce products, services and ideas that would enhance our levels of export and prestige. And with that of course, increase the quality of life for all...," George Yabu, Yabu Pushelberg.
So there is clearly a thriving industry. People are working in it. Going to school for it. Buying things made by it. So what needs to happen to grow design exponentially in Canada?
We had the opportunity to connect with three mavens in the sector at the recent DX Intersection to benefit Design Exchange.
Tyler Brule, Editor in Chief, Monocle, Founder and Chairman, Winkreative, Faryl Reisman, Co-Chair, DX Intersection, and Charles Bombardier, Founder, Imaginactive discussed the state of the design sector in Canada and what direction is it heading. What follows are their thoughts.
Describe the state of the design community in Canada.
TB: I think Canada needs to be known for excellence in specific sectors and I believe transport is one of them. We have a long heritage of building machines to move us but we don't have a design school that stands out globally in this area. I'd also like to see some more small to mid-scale manufacturing move back into our cities.
FR: The design community in Canada is still learning how to grow its roots here. In the past we have looked at the powerhouse to our south as our primary steppingstone onto the global stage. In many ways the Canadian design community is in its infancy, still learning how to cultivate our creative thought leaders rather than export them.
CB: I am interested in collaborating with more designers from Canada in the coming years. One major observation I've made of the Canadian design community is that I think Canadian designers need to be more active on social media, sharing their creativity more openly.
How do we inspire more of public to be design evangelists?
TB: Show people what quality of life looks and feels like and everyone becomes a convert and hopefully excellent PRs.
FR: We need to expose the public to great design and engage them in the process of design whenever possible.
CB: With Imaginactive, the non-profit I founded in 2013, my goal is to get the public to submit ideas for new methods of mobility and work with Canadian industrial designers to convert these ideas into realized concepts. Each time one of our collaborators sees his creation for the first time, they are inspired to become design evangelists.
What is the Design Exchange's (DX) role in this?
TB: The DX has the ability to remind all sectors (particularly those in the tall towers around it) that design is not about cost or added luxury, it's about function, form and longevity.
FR: We are committed to delivering accessible design experiences and education and we aim to provide the tools necessary to connect design learning to the ordinary and extraordinary. Through these initiatives, we demonstrate the relevance and importance of design to everyday life, and that inspires innovation, nurtures entrepreneurship, and builds design awareness.
CB: It's on track to become a leader in showcasing new technologies that will help leverage the work of designers across Canada, and facilitating programs that foster collaboration with inventors and tinkerers that creates immersive experiences and breeds new concepts.
So what's this telling us? Well, design is integrated in all of our lives. We need to treat an industry and its people as gems we as Canadians should celebrate, enable, and encourage. It makes sense for so many reasons.
So governments across the country, yet another call for you to come to the table and bring the mavens of this sector together to discuss how you can invest. Let's support existing institutions like Design Exchange to give the public and the sector a home all Canadians can look to.
And for us Canadian citizens, be discerning, and look to buy local. Buy Canadian.
And encourage your kids, your nephews, or any young person who has even an inkling of interest in design. Encourage them to learn, to understand, and to use their treasured imagination to be a designer now, for tomorrow, and the day after. Who's in to be the next high school design star? Pass this on. Someone you know can enter here.
We can call all be part of this solution. So let's do it.
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