an online conversation
about design management


Design management in France

We are wrapping up four weeks in Paris where we have worked and enjoyed the sights equally. Part of our work commitment was to attend the end of year exhibition for students at the Paris College of Art (PCA).

PCA is a private college based in Paris with connections to Parsons The new school for design, based in New York.

The part of the exhibition that impressed me most was the Design Management projects presented by students. It is scary to see what students are doing in this area and to think about the impact this will have on the design industry.

I have based most of the Design Business Council professional development program on showing design studio owners and managers how to develop a business model for their studio. The skills that go into this form part of the workshops and cover client segmentation, competitor analysis, empathy mapping, customer journey mapping and persona development. These are skills that all design studio owners need.

I find that while many Australian design studio owners are aware of the need for these skills they are not equipped to use them.

In Europe these skills are rewarded through the Design Management Excellence awards. These awards show a range of projects where design management has been used to make them more effective.

At the other end of the scale is the design management unit at PCA. At their exhibition a Fashion major examined the business model for a laundromat. She examined the user experience and mapped how users interacted in the process of doing their laundry. She looked at the technology, the layout and the use of space. From all of this she recommended a new approach to the laundromat experience. This was all documented in a storyboard, visual approach.

The project that impressed most was by Diana Stelin-Nilson and was titled 'How emerging designers succeed'. It examined this topic by setting out a business model canvas for a fashion cluster to assist emerging fashion designers. To prepare the canvas she examined the direct and indirect competitors, developed a detailed explanation of revenue streams, wrote a series of personas and then prepared a customer journey map.

Keep in mind this is a fourth year fashion design student not a seasoned design strategist.

And yet the report she prepared was not some fantasy project but a real life model for a business.

There were a number of similar projects that proved the Design Management unit was preparing some exceptional designers.

We have some units at Australian universities and colleges (ie. Billy Blue, RMIT) that go some way towards this level but nothing as comprehensive. Imagine the change to our industry if graduates start applying for jobs with these skills in place.

What this exhibition proved is that we (Australian designers) need to improve our skills in areas such as business model planning, client segmentation, competitor analysis, empathy mapping, customer journey mapping and persona development.

Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed a series of business tools to help designers manage their business better along with a series of workshops that show designers how to use these tools.