Last week was supposed to be a slow one, but two meetings fell into place at the last minute and so the HDL team (those of us not enjoying the Finnish summer) was split between Zurich, Moscow, and Helsinki. It was a time for us to focus our thoughts some long term ideas about what HDL is and could be—an exciting thing for us to be thinking through.
One of the biggest questions on our minds has been, "what next?" We have a clear idea of where HDL goes, but on a broader sense we're interested—maybe even concerned about—the hype that has been recently poured into the term "design." The danger is that the hype becomes destructive if the design community is not able to deliver. So far, many corners of the business world have been convinced of the importance of designers involved in many different, and more strategic roles, but what about NGOs, cities, or even nations? Although early evidence from that sphere is positive, as one can see in our case studies and elsewhere, the available pool of successes is small.
Which makes us curious: what should HDL do to grow that pool? What's the right role for design within larger organizations? How much design "presence" is necessary, or even wanted? Our own Studios are one proposition, but we're anxious to see more happening, and more quickly.
How will strategic design engagements be funded and by who? If one of the defining factors of truly strategic work is that it cuts holistically across silos, it might always be difficult to find funding. At the end of the day, the majority of the world operates under the cruel logic of the budgetary line item, so how can strategic designers find a place to fit when their work is naturally between the lines?
This is a true design problem in every sense of the word.