Youth and Design—A Powerful Combination

Icsid recently updated its definition of industrial design, recognizing that it is “a strategic problem-solving process that drives innovation, builds business success and leads to a better quality of life through innovative products, systems, services and experiences”. This redefinition emphasizes the fact that not only is design everywhere, it has an inestimable impact on our lives.

Designers from the millennial generation are aware of the impact certain design choices have had on the environment and society in the past, but they are also eager to be part of the solution.

Increasingly, they apply sustainability values to their design approach. They bring with them strong ideals and have opened up new paths for the profession, emphasizing collaboration across disciplines.

We know this, because we have made an effort to find out more about the next generation of designers. We have consulted with them, asked them about their concerns and their biggest dreams. We want to share some of our findings with you today, on World Industrial Design Day.

When asked about the challenges they face, they told us that breaking into the industry is difficult, and that the value of design is not always fully understood in their workplaces, in their communities. Many find that internships are rare and even entry-level positions require multiple years of experience. They tell us that it takes many years before you can establish a career. Those that want to start a business find it difficult to access the necessary capital to get started.

“I believe that the major obstacle or challenge for us is the appreciation of design in big industries. Mexico is starting to believe in designers but is going very slowly; people are just starting to understand that design is everywhere, and that we need more creative minds to succeed,” young graduate Claudia Daniela Villarreal Figueroa told us.

Meanwhile the evidence is mounting. Design-led innovation is a key driver of economic growth and will play a fundamental role in the coming fourth industrial revolution. The Design Value Index Study released in 2014 showed how 16 of the most design-driven American companies outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 200% for the 10-year period ending in 2014. In another report released in 2015, Design Council found that in the UK, “workers with a design element to their work were 41% more productive than the average”.

We understand the value of design, and we see the energy and optimism socially conscious youth bring to tackling today’s most complex problems. As a society, this is a powerful combination we need to leverage.

As the world body for industrial design, it is one of our priorities to empower young designers as they reinvent our collective future. But young designers also need support from their families, their schools, their governments, and from society.

We encourage established designers, as well as the public and private sectors to invest in scholarships and internships for the STEM fields including industrial design, to create mentorship programmes, to raise awareness of the role of design in adding value to our economic, social, cultural, and environmental quality of life. We advocate for grants and incubator programmes for young designers starting up their own businesses.

On this, World Industrial Design Day, we encourage all of you to take a moment and think about the value of design, and celebrate those entering the profession with a desire to make the world a better place.

Signed by the Board of Directors