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Keynote presentations


Sebastian Conran

Sebastian Conran Associates


There is a clear business-case for using rigorous Design Process and Creative Thinking tools in early stage innovation can be even more effective for industry for multiple reasons: more innovative & appealing products, simpler manufacturing, quicker responsiveness, and shorter product-development timescales. All of which leads to greater product resilience, customer satisfaction, less aftersales resource and ultimately better profitability

Although its meaning has become quite nebulous the word Design derives from Latin designare; scheme, plan, mark out, devise, choose, designate, appoint. The designer is literally "one who schemes" and creates the vision for others to follow.

Traditionally Britain has a culture that believes in amateurism and that anyone ‘creative’ could design something nice. There is often a tendency to view design as a sort of marketing tool used in the selling process to package and communicate the product offer. However in a contemporary world - whether Porsche, Dyson or Apple - if aiming to offer globally outstanding product then excellent thoughtful design is essential to achieve success.

Professional design exists within a wide bandwidth of disciplines including: industrial, architecture, interface, product-styling, graphic and fashion. Designers tend to specialize in specific fields such as: automotive, built environment, luxury, strategic, branding, or web design. For example industrial designers are trained and experienced in product innovation and industrial fabrication. They are skilled at collaborating successfully within technical teams throughout the product development process; they tend to think rigorously and in the long term. However with buying seasons twice a year the more intuitive fashion designer is obliged to follow an entirely different schedule.

The choice of which discipline is appropriate for a specific task, and when & where in the innovation process is best applied significantly impact on the outcome of a project. What is the scale and impact of the challenge – do you need a nurse or a neurosurgeon, or perhaps a more of a generalized practitioner?  Whatever the choice of designer, both talent and experience can count for a lot and some are better than others.

The one thing that all designers should have in common is that they employ their creativity and experience to create the maximum Value (as in perception of fair exchange), whilst using available resources as efficiently as possible. Another way of looking at it is that value consists of brand, design and quality, divided by cost.

Key Message:

Outstanding design can leverage excellence and success from your business; do not leave it too late, design is not just the marketing graphics & logos, wrappers & websites, posters & packaging – although it is part of it, this comes towards the end of the process. Design needs to be the first thought as well as the last.


Professor Dale Russell

Royal College of Art & Central Saint Martins UAL & Russell Studio 


In the late 80s an open culture of discourse and experimentation took place by default. Today this same open culture is required that inspires the willingness to transcend boundaries while acknowledging excellence of innovation and rigor demanded within the fusion of engineering, scientific and design innovation.

Left-field visioning in a corporate culture is reliant on knowledge flow within an innovation ecosystem without boundaries.  Forming a synthesis addressing society, user-centricity and technology that rely upon delicate dialogue between scholastic research and commercial innovation practice.

Transition in change through strategic frameworks for disruptive iteration provoke impact of meaningful exchange created by practitioner and educator as protagonist in the provision of peripatetic practice on an international platform between academia and corporations. As we progressed through landline to cloud, numerous questions and observations are provoked and include: Social responsibility? Need for permanency? What is the role of artefact? Material metamorphosis? Positioning of the hacker?

As advocate for the integration of the intuitive and the pragmatic within tangible and intangible product development, this has led to progressing a transdisciplinary fusion of research investigation and experimentation in pedagogical and commercial design innovation through the synthesis of foresight, research and practice to initiate insight and understandings for people-centred design as we shape our future.