18 / 04 / 12

The outmoded perception of designer as creative prima donna, throwing tantrums if you don’t accept whatever work they feel is “best” for your company and of course their portfolio, is thankfully long gone. With their ego no longer at the centre of the universe, the new designer has evolved into a valued strategic partner to business, able to rationalise and communicate their process and demonstrate that they add value and deliver a meaningful return on investment. But what does this new designer look like?

5 years ago at the Intersection Conference in Gateshead it was identified that there were essentially four new roles of the design practitioner - designer as strategist, co-creator, storyteller and rationalist (Myerson, 2007). However since then the large designer head has had to swell to accommodate the many other hats that have since been added - negotiator, facilitator, visualiser, navigator, mediator and co-ordinator (Inns, 2009). Phew! This heady list doesn't even touch upon the ever changing technological landscape and the skill-sets that the designer has to embrace.

Of course, no one person can be an expert in all fields. Therefore the new successful designer model understands that it's through the role as communicator that he is most effective, working collaboratively with selected partners as well as linking client with the audience. Nothing new here, the Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss (1904-1972) recognised way back in the 50's that (the designer) "accepts the responsibility of his position as liaison, linking management, engineering and the consumer and cooperates with all three." The keyword here is 'liaison' the designer acting as the driver and co-ordinator to make it all happen.

In the past, as well as a boundless creativity, computer skills were the essentials in any designer's toolbox, now the emphasis is on more multi-disciplinary skills. The new designer: problem solver, strategist, business partner… How do you see the list?