The Future of Design (and how to prepare for it)


Here is a brief excerpt from a handy guide to navigating what’s coming up next in the design world, provided by Matt McCue and Kiana St. Louis and featured by for 99u within the website network of BechanceBēhance. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about 99u and Bēhance, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.

Illustration by Atipus

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In trying to figure out what the future of design will look like, we’re at a bit of a loss.

Technology is changing at a rapid pace. In five years, mobile platforms have gone from being an emerging part of a company’s strategy to the focal point of its future. So who’s to say when virtual reality and automation become more prominent? Quickly-evolving tools like these and a shifting playing field make it almost impossible to predict the future, because the gadget that will drive our lives in 10 years probably hasn’t even been invented yet. And then there is the matter of divergent career paths. The age-old standard of working your way up the ladder at a single company for the duration of your life has been disrupted by career professionals blending skills that were once thought to be mutually exclusive — like design and computer programming — to make entirely new hybrid careers in anticipation of the market needs of tomorrow.

So that is why we’ve reached out to visionaries and experts across the design world to get their take on what the field will look like in the next 10 years when the very definition of the designer will begin to loosen up and designers will soon be called on by companies to re-think the entire way businesses function, from how teams collaborate to how corporations are structured.

It’s setting up to be a golden age, one filled with wonderfully-wild new possibilities (full-body virtual reality suits that generate real-life senses, anyone?) and career opportunities. Worried? Don’t be. We asked each participant to give us a glimpse into how we can prepare for the world ahead.

The definition of “design” will loosen up.

“Historically, you would study graphic design, industrial design, or interaction design and there were a finite number of crafts out in the world. Now we’re starting to see that design and creativity can be brought to bear on a greater number of things. One is organizational design, thinking about anything from the design of culture within an organization to how those organizations are designed themselves in terms of the structure and roles. Another is business design, the idea of bringing a creative lens to anything from business models to venture funding.”

— Duane Bray, Partner and Head of Talent, IDEO

“Creativity” will become a coveted corporate leadership trait.

“We’re seeing teams of people from different disciplines spending time together from start to finish on a project. How do you maximize their creative potential? The core skill is unlocking collaboration between teams.”

— Duane Bray, Partner and Head of Talent, IDEO

The line between design and business will continue to blur.

“The more a designer understands how the business works, the more valuable they will be to employers. Designers who understand a company’s value proposition and mission can help them thrive and grow. They just need to learn the language that someone who is running a company actually speaks. When they can articulate exactly what they bring to the table, executives will realize that they didn’t just hire a designer — they also hired a strategist!”

— Shana Dressler, Executive Director of 30 Weeks

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Matt McCue is the senior writer for 99U. Previously, he contributed to Fast Company, Fortune and ESPN The Magazine. He lives in New York City, but he is willing to travel long distances for a good meal. Find him here @mattmccuewriter.

Kiana St. Louis is the Assistant Editor and Community Manager for 99U. She is also a lover of fashion and the arts and believes the world could be a better place if everyone just wrote a little more. Follow her personal blog here.

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