There are a lot of well-designed products (and, let’s not forget, services) where you have no clue who was behind the design. And I believe that’s a good thing. Very often, the result of a design process is not down to one single person: it really is (almost always) teamwork. And that makes sense, when you consider the complexity of the job. And even if you know the team, it may be totally unclear who was behind which element of the work.
Sure, our PR-driven and consumer-oriented society believes in big designer names. They are a blessing for advertising and can be a true driver of sales (even when there’s actually a whole design team behind the product). Trust me, that has to do a lot more with marketing than the true collaborative nature of design.
You can be a single designer, brimming with talent and on the way to becoming a star designer. But you’re only you. You can, for example, design an innovative wooden bench that seems brilliant to you, as it meets your own criteria. You’re happy with it, because it fulfils your needs. Besides that, you worked hard on it; so your judgement isn’t exactly objective. Maybe, other people like your creations and want to buy them. Very nice. It could even be a big seller. Great!
But this has little to do with industrial design for a big group of users. Creating a good product-service environment for a lot of users means providing a simple set of balanced answers to multiple complex questions. So we agree with a famous quote from graphic designer Paul Rand:
Design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated.
You can’t capture all your potential users in one single profile similar to your own; there is a rich variety in the way they think, work, see and use your design. That’s where the colleagues come in: because of who they are – their education, social context, character, origin, network – they will come up with different answers.
So, if you work together in co-creating methodology, the result will be better. How much better? That depends on the expertise, the motivation and the collaborative spark.
Without a sound design-thinking methodology, hitting on a good result is a question of sheer luck. Trust the designers who believe a structured collaborative process will create some good stuff. Less ego, more design.