Design is an industry in perpetual evolution and often in the media spotlight, which sometimes causes creativity to be confused with expertise. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about design! When asked what it means for a bicycle to “be designed”, every answer could be different: it’s electric, foldable, blue, fast, beautiful, carbon-built, etc. We go through a similar process when beginning to consider design specifications. We maintain the conviction that at least half the success of every project depends on everyone involved having a clear idea of what they expect from the design. Based on our past experience we have created specialized methodological tools that give a comprehensive introduction to managing a design project. These tools help maintain objectivity when strategic creative decisions are required, a process that is often very subjective.
Currently we use ten different tools, each carefully tailored for a precise moment in the design process in order to maximize organization, coherence, dialogue, and rationality. This process also gives our design team access to a diverse range of business cultures, from marketing to factories, communication to commercialization.
We call our most important tool the Carré Magique©, or magic square. It is a cartographic representation of design, defined by the client and the designers at the start of every project. The magic square represents a graphic roadmap of the project, pointing out which obstacles to avoid, the best routes to take, where the competition currently stands, etc. It provides the information necessary to enrich plans for a project from a design perspective, and establishes a reference point to validate each step of the design process.
This tool is now widely recognized in the design industry. It was the object of “L’Objet du design”, an exhibition measuring 1200 square meters, organized for the opening of the Cité du Design in Saint-Etienne (one of only four UNESCO Creative Cities). To introduce this methodology to the public and professional spheres, we selected more than 220 innovative design objects from around the world and positioned them within the framework of our magic square cartography. For the occasion we co-wrote “L’Objet du Design”, a catalogue of featured works published by the Cité du Design.
It would take too long to describe all of our methodological tools here. They are not used systemically but according to the specific requirements of each client, in order to maximize intelligent decision-making in the best interests of the project. Just glancing at their titles will already give an idea of their role for different stages of the design process:
- Casting the design: defining the heroes and villains of the project
- The Wheel of Eco-Design: avoiding greenwashing by using proper methods
- The Life Cycle: airing out our design specifications and opening the windows of innovation
- Storyboarding: scripting the interaction between the product and the public
- The Critical Read: learning to be uncompromising and to prevent weakness
- The Creative Matrix: staying accurate while being creative
- The Palette of the Five Senses: addressing the public from every possible angle
- The Engine of Innovation: finding out what works and what you can rely on
- The Design Checklist: methodically verifying the steps necessary to ensure safe and effective business procedures
We have developed specific adaptations for these tools in different contexts, which we put to use in eighty percent of our work today:
- for small businesses who want to integrate design into precise projects
- for large industrial groups who may or may not have an internal design department
- for public institutions who want to benefit from the communicative assets of design: to be a common denominator for technological, economic, cultural and communicative values.
Viewed in their entirety, these tools form a corpus of expertise that we call “best practice design”. Using our tools adapted to the context of your specific needs, best practice design is a reference point that allows you to integrate these proven methodologies for project management into your own team.