The Future Of Design by Lorraine Justice

The Blurb On The Back:

There is no blurb on the back, instead you get these quotes:

”A hugely important book that appears at a critical time.”

Bruce Nussbaum, Mentor-in-Residence, New Museum, NYC, former Managing Editor, BusinessWeek

“A must-read for anyone who recognises the need to graduate past a world of objects made of wood and metal, to design experiences that will largely be made out out computer codes.”

John Maeda, Global Head of Computational Design and Inclusion, Automattic, Inc

“An excellent overview of professional design.  It’s an invaluable resource for those interested in pursuing a career in the field or for entrepreneurs looking to harness the power of great design.”

Carole Bilson, President, Design Management Institute

“Lorraine Justice has created a guide that will help designers and those who want to learn what design is and can be.  Her experience as an educator, strategist, and researcher provides the base to describe the who, what, and why in design.”

Craig M. Vogel, FIDSA, FRSA, Associate Dean, College of DAAP, University of Cincinnati

“A timely book for designers, students in design disciplines, business, CEOs, product managers, and team players.”

Min Wang, Professor, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing China, founding partner, HYVC

“An authoritative and inspiring exploration into the role of design in production and society, technology and the market.” 

Lorenzo Imbesi, PhD, Full Professor of Design, Chair of Sapienza Design Research, Sapienza University of Rome

You can order The Future Of Design by Lorraine Justice from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Lorraine Justice is a designer, speaker and educator.  This book is strong on principles of good design and design management but which doesn’t really go into much depth on what the future of the industry may look like (and remains focused on products rather than services), she sets out the key issues to be aware of in the design cycle.  As an introduction to the topic, it’s fine but those seeking more depth should look elsewhere.

I’m going to start this review by saying that I think some of the problems I had with this book come from the fact that the lack of any synopsis for it on the back together with the title meant that I could only rely on the title and back quotes to get an idea of what it’s about.  It’s kinda ironic that this poor book cover design led me to have some misconceptions of what to expect.

At the start of the book Justice says that the book is intended for those designing products and services for the global marketplace and sets out to provide new ways of thinking about how products and services will work or could work in the future.  Although she uses the word “product” to cover both products and services, as someone who works in the services sector I have to say that I found the subsequent chapters to be geared more towards manufactured products (including tech/software) than to pure services and I would have liked to have seen some specific examples of service design techniques/ways of working given that it’s become such an important sector.

Justice makes some good points about the need to be aware of: 

  • specific cultural, country sensitivities if you’re looking to make a global product;
  • the importance of doing research to identify trends, target audiences and understanding individual market places (including where to set up your product as there may be financial incentives/benefits to being in some countries rather than others); and
  • The design cycle and what constitutes good design.

I found the chapters on The Design Process, Design Thinking, and Innovation and How To Evaluate Product Concepts to be the best and most useful in the book in that Justice takes you through the different stages and issues to be aware of in an easy-to-understand way and provides illustrations from case studies and interviews to support what she’s saying.  I honestly wanted more of this in the book because having not worked directly with design teams before or had to think about these steps (but recognising that I will probably need to in the future), I felt that this was a really good introduction to those areas while also giving practical tips that I could easily apply to my own work.

Unfortunately, I thought there was a lot of dead wood in the book as well.  For example, one chapter focusing on What Will Make A Global Product Successful spends a disproportionate amount of page space looking at awards criteria from a number of global awards bodies without any analysis of how those bodies had applied the same so it seemed very random and not directly applicable to anything many readers are likely to have to think about.  Similarly the chapter Spaces For Innovation focuses a lot on designing office space and specific design retreat locations (with specific sections devoted to advertising h-Farm and Steelcase) and although this may be of interest to some people working specifically in those fields, if you’re starting out or working within an organisation where you don’t have that kind of influence and need to make do with what you’ve got, it just didn’t add anything to the topic.  Similarly, the chapter Supporting Design Teams has some good introductory principles if you’re completely new to the topic (e.g. how to work with a global team and how to get the most out of them) but it’s all very basic and if you’re already interested in that kind of topic, you’re likely to be familiar with those ideas already.

Ultimately this isn’t a bad book and, as I said, if you’re new to the topic then it works as a primer and I did take some valuable information away from it.  However I can’t say I came away from it with a sense of what the future of design will actually look like, and given that’s the literal title, it left me disappointed.  

THE FUTURE OF DESIGN was released in the United Kingdom on 6th June 2019.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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