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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update Breakfast October 2009
22@Update Breakfast October 2009
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Design Research as a competitiveness tool for companies

More companies are choosing design to add value to their products and it has been shown that this increases both competitiveness and profits.



The October 22@Update Breakfast was held at the BAU School of Design and focused on how design research can influence innovation and competitiveness in companies and, as a result, their profit.

The first speaker at the October breakfast was Brent Richards, CEO of Design Embassy Europe, an international consultancy that deals with a number of disciplines related to creativity. Founded in 2009, they are based in Richmond (London, United Kingdom) and work in a number of areas including: advanced architecture and sensorial environments, sensorial design, food design and luxury devices.

Mr. Richards focused his presentation around the question “What is research in design?” Research in general takes a lot of time, investigation and observation, and these tasks often result in a wide range of knowledge, too much knowledge. The challenge is how to apply and make the most of this knowledge.

“What is research in the design field?”

Twenty-five years ago, research didn’t exist in the design field. It wasn’t until 1995 that books on research began to appear, although at that moment there was still a long road ahead. According to Mr. Richards, some research is too academic and does not take into account the practical application of the results. In general, no two studies follow the same pattern.

There are now still many aspects to develop and define. The role of design research in innovation and creation must be established. The main problem caused by this lack of a definition is that we spend a lot of time wondering “what is research” and not enough time actually doing it.

However, according to Brent Richards, nowadays we can say that design research is a hybrid, a combination of different subjects that must work together to achieve a common goal. For optimum product results, different disciplines like design, engineering and business strategy must work together in order to come up with added value.

“Research is a hybrid, a combination of different subjects that must work together to find added value”

Isabel Roig, general director of the Barcelona Design Centre, was invited to the event as the 22@ innovator of the month. Roig spoke about the benefits of design research for companies, both in competitiveness and profit.

It is often difficult to make people understand that design is part of innovation. The Design Observatory is a benchmarking tool that collects data from around the world related to design and innovation. The Observatory has carried out a number of studies about design and its impact on the economy. These studies have shown that design is profitable and makes countries more competitive.

For example, this fact has been demonstrated in Catalonia thanks to a study on the economic impact of design in this region that shows 9 out of 10 companies take design into account in their production process and consider it one of the most important factors. Furthermore, 55% of companies have a designer on staff. On the European level, the facts also show that the large majority of companies that are committed to using design have seen their profit grow over the past 5 years.

“9 out of 10 companies in Catalonia take design into account in their production process”

Josep Mª Polo closed the October 22@Update Breakfast presenting his book ‘Best Practices: una nueva filosofía de los negocios, una nueva sociedad’. This publication is a summary of the best practices of 100 national and international companies and institutions.

Finally, Josep M. Piqué finished up the session with the news from the district. Firstly, ‘Melon District’, a new residence hall for students in Barcelona’s third university campus, was inaugurated. Secondly, BCN Meeting Point, the annual meeting of the real estate sector, has started, with participation from 22@. Finally, 22@SynergyS, an initiative that aims to create links between the research and business arenas, will be held on 5 November.


Key ideas


We’ve spent a lot of time wondering “what is design research” and not enough time actually doing it.

Currently, design research is a hybrid, a combination of different subjects that must work together to achieve a common goal. Only in this way will we achieve optimum results.

Although it is sometimes difficult to make people understand that design is part of innovation, it is profitable and makes countries that include it in the production process more competitive.

The facts are revealing: the large majority of European companies that are committed to using design have seen their profit grow over the past 5 years.


Attendees speak


“The opportunity to listen to Brent Richards’ point of view on design is really interesting.”

“I would have liked to hear about small family-run businesses. Sometimes strategies used by large companies can’t be applied on a smaller scale.”

“The fact that the first speaker gave his presentation entirely in English forced us to concentrate more than usual. However, it is very enriching to hear international speakers expressing themselves in their own language.”

“In our company we have recently decided to pay more attention to design. We hope to see results soon.”






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