Field Reports Different design cycles, different design cultures

Design is perhaps best described as “pattern recognition”. Today I met with Zary and his colleagues at Wireless@KTH in Stockholm. At lunch we talked about the barriers to innovation in the wireless sector and suddenly I caught onto a pattern. Many design communities define the “consumer” differently as they have diverse cycles of innovation… it’s not rocket science, but sometimes it’s the small revelations that help make our world a little more coherent.

The “consumer” question gets a different answer depending on who you ask. In the product world you do consumer research, figure out what people want, and then design for that need. In architecture, who knows who the consumer will be 50 years from now? And if it’s a public building, by nature it defies any single profile but rather must be inclusive of anyone and anything. These two design communities, while related, have fundamental difference.  Same goes with device and infrastructure communities in the wireless sector. The device world is consumer focused, churning products on a quarterly rate; the infrastructure world on a 50 year trajectory providing needs that have yet to be defined. But what happens when consumer services require both aspects to be coordinated & integrated?

What happens when the appliance providers need to work with the architecture providers to create a sustainable living solution?

Off to London now, were I look forward to meeting up with Rama and his colleagues. Nothing like good people over a good meal!