Design Management

img_0356Caption: Lygia Pape’s Ttéias: a ‘magnetised’ space creates energy and connection.
A Good Design Manager should be able to create this same feeling in his team.

Design Management is the discipline that bridges the creative design process with its business side, by providing organizational success and effectiveness through strategy. Professionals in this specific area have always found it hard to give a general definition, whereas a Design Manager should make it imperative to explain in an appropriate way what benefits his work could bring to a company.

Before defining what DM is, it is necessary to clarify what its two components are. Design is a crucial economic and cultural resource and contributes in a positive way to orient the evolving values of society, it is a process that shapes products and services on the customers changing demand, as stated in the ‘Design Agenda’ by Cooper and Press, 1995. Even if the idea of Design is slightly different in every country, a very interesting vision and definition, a good summary  in history of what was considered Good Design are the ten principles of Dieter Rams based on innovation, utility, aesthetic, understandability, value in time, and the ‘as little as possible’ famous expression. Similarly, what could define Design nowadays, at a general level is that it has turned into a fluid practice, where Designers are storytellers who create a brand narrative product, as Edwin Heathcote FT journalist suggests. Within an organization Design can be effective in delivering a vision and values, in achieving business goals and it is also present in ordinary activities. It can also be seen as a strategic part of business ethic.

On the other hand management is the administration side of the creative process, and the role of a good manager is to deal with controlling, planning, organizing and coordinating this creative process.  As Terence Conrad stated: ‘No matter how good the product and service, and no matter how strong the brand, it must be supported by good operations systems’

To sum up, Design Management is the connection, the link between the creative work and the business decisions to improve Design effectiveness  leading  to success. A Design Manager should lead like a great conductor in order to implement the creative work, encompassing the corporate and the project level. He should act like a catalyst within the company, influencing the way different groups can work efficiently together. For this particular role it is required to use both sides of the brain, keeping a holistic and analytical approach with a creative and visionary way of thinking.


Cooper, R. & Press, M.(1995) The design agenda: a guide to successful design management. New York: Wiley.


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