What are the new challenges for the designer profession?

In 2018 everyone was enthusiastic about the “company value” design thanks to the McKinsey Design Index (MDI). And four years later? In 2022, job titles include the word “point out” continue to multiply, as do the crossovers between different disciplines. The confusion seems to match the fascination with this expertise: designers are everywhere.

“We actually see the word ‘design’ everywhere. It’s used a lot, and often in a simplistic way, but ultimately talking about it is to attract attention, to arouse curiosity. It is then up to the players in the design sector to make their profession known and the value they can create. † emphasizes Céline Lévy, program director of the École Supérieure de Design de Troyes.

We even notice the application of a “design method” in sectors, areas and spaces completely devoid of skilled designers. Design Thinking is on the rise! This people-oriented creative approach consists of tackling a problem or an innovation project, with the same approach as that of a designer. Nevertheless, Design Thinking has almost become a new method due to its success. “ready”, linear and in accordance with the rules. Moreover, this way of doing things is partly responsible for the idea that it would be enough to apply “steps of reflection” to become a designer.

So in a time when we have all become ” a little “ designer, what defines this? ” TRUE “ professional? Why become? How has the health crisis affected this profession?

What is a designer?

The designer’s profession is far from limited to designing high-quality and sought-after furniture. On the contrary, the intervention area is huge! We find this profile in many domains: industry, craft, construction, multimedia, graphic design, advertising… This is how designers tackle different problems, “playgrounds” increasingly varied. They can make a brand memorable, such as optimizing a public space, an interface or an organization, and even intervene in government policy. And for good reason! These experts also contribute to responding to societal challenges such as climate change, education, health, etc.

It must be said that design is a strategic tool that contributes to challenging society, by improving what already exists or by creating new objects, services and environments. With this creative and pragmatic profile, the designer therefore has the ability to imagine and innovate in order to improve the everyday lives of his colleagues. This expert, a real guide, will define the needs of its sponsors and provide them with concrete solutions. His role is also to plan, design, advise, lead the project and supervise the work…

Depending on his specialty, the designer is therefore able to work on different media and different materials. Therefore, there are professionals in space design (retail designer, scenographer, interior designer, etc.) or product design (industrial designer, creative craftsman, etc.), in graphic design (illustrator, graphic designer, packaging designer, etc.). ) and even in high-tech (sound designer, web designer…).

Regardless of specialization, a “good designer” regularly cultivates his critical mind, his knowledge, his cultural references or his personal and professional experiences. This profile requires solid technical skills, a certain practical and economic awareness, but also curiosity, agility, ingenuity, a certain accuracy but above all passion. That “soft skills” skills are almost more important than the technical mastery of tools. The designer must also be reactive and look for novelties to propose solutions in “the zeitgeist”† Finally, the latter ensures that his product will be easy to use. In addition to aesthetics, the designer emphasizes the application and use of his creation.

State of the market

In 2020, the Alliance France Design conducted a survey to better understand the difficulties faced by designers. A survey with which we can also make an inventory of the market. Share of disciplines, way of working, situation, typology… What should you think about?

  • Most graphic designers have the artist-author status (48% of the respondents have this status). As for product or space designers, they are usually in the liberal profession or in a company.
  • Designers’ clients are mainly: small businesses, communities, communication and design agencies, as well as individuals
  • If many wanted to take advantage of the crisis to train, strengthen their skills, experiment, formalize new offers, try new models; many of them are having trouble realizing these ideas during the lockdowns. The reason: the inability to go to their workplace (55% of designers who responded to the survey are concerned). Then it is appropriate to underline another difficulty in the imposed working methods: a third of designers do not work alone† They employ staff, assistants, interns… But above all, they interact with their customers, their colleagues, their partners and their suppliers. For 94% of the respondents, trips to the above actors are weekly. In other words, meetings to confront each other’s ideas are important. For example, the designer must delve into the problem of his client or immerse himself in the creative mind of his colleague: this is his way of working.
Photo credit: Alliance France design study

“In our school, companies have a central place in pedagogy. For example, throughout his student career, the young designer works on real problems that partner organizations share with us. When leaving school, it is therefore natural that our young graduates, for the most part, choose to work in companies. Collaborating designer, independent designer, designer in an office… the statuses are multiple. † says Céline Lévy, program director of the École Supérieure de Design de Troyes.

Similarly, a question seems to be recurring at the time of the “fully digital” : should the designer know how to code? The answers are far from unanimous. However, the idea of ​​design resists. We are talking more and more about “algorithm design” (with teams of designers with a technical background) or ” conversation “ (requires writing skills). In addition, design plays an increasingly important role in the operational aspect of projects. Usually the concept is DesignLeadership » emerges when designers are called upon to take their place on the board of directors. In this context, a fascinating profession seems to be doing well this year: the UX designer (also called digital designer).

This expert in multimedia and computer programming is increasingly in demand and improves user experience by creating stories. The target? Arouse emotion in the user. To do this, he must put himself in his place and understand his needs. On a computer, tablet or smartphone, the UX designer sets up a process adapted to the users but also to the brand image of the company. For this he collaborates with product managers, developers, graphic designers, community managers, editors… Currently there is no specific diploma for this profession, but many training courses in digital art and graphic design.

As is the case with the Troyes School of Design, which offers three courses that integrate modules, workshops and projects related to generative design and connected objects, application development, coding and of course UX/UI design.

  • A Bac+1 Assistant web designer (Labeled Higher Specialized Training)
  • A Bac +3 Graphic Designer (RNCP level 6)
  • A Bac +5 Designer Project Designer (State Approved and RNCP Level 7) with one of the Masters cycle courses specializing in “Design and digital intelligence”

The health crisis: an opportunity for designers to play a pivotal role

In addition to the negative consequences, a crisis is also an opportunity to question and reinvent existing models. We can take over the words of Bruno Latour on Franceinter: “If we don’t take advantage of this incredible situation to change, it wastes a crisis. We have the unique opportunity to look at our world and our organizations with fresh eyes, to question them and to reinvent them, in other words to innovate”† As mentioned above, design has a transformative power. This period is therefore an opportunity for designers to “visibility”to proactively position itself on the engines of recovery and to play a major role in companies and wider society.

What are the new challenges for the designer profession?
Photo credit: Pexels / @fauxels

To do this, it is necessary to identify the underlying trends. And in 2021, the observed changes are many:

  • Firstly, there is increasing talk of a “best design” serving the planet, to meet the ecological imperatives
  • Then we can also quote territory planning, in particular the relocation of certain important activities to rural areas (industrial, pharmaceutical, etc.). That “construction sites” opening up the possibility of economic renewal through job creation: a dream opportunity for designers to invest in these sectors, where they enhance performance and search for meaning (agriculture, capital goods, health, urban planning, education, etc.).
  • Subsequently, the explosion of digital has led to new decisive and extremely vibrant branches of today. Faced with this massive digitization and changes in work, we see an increase in supply. And for good reason! Individuals are very interested in design to renew themselves, but also address the lack of creativity. Design also proves to be a real asset in an ever-changing market or in “look for the new vein”
  • Finally, companies love design more and more, hence an increasing demand. The reasons are multiple: it is a modeling and formalization force (thus important in the production chain), but it is also a facilitation tool† It guides change in the company and attracts employees.

So, to play a central role, designers are recommended to:

  • Become the new intermediary in all sectors
  • Be part of the front line in the innovation process and no longer at the end of the chain
  • Be the missing pull to help businesses transform

A vision shared by the pedagogical management of the École Supérieure de Design de Troyes: “Whether through exploratory projects on “low tech”, prospective workshops to propose energy, formal and visual solutions in urban space, elective courses dealing with neo-materials (in particular bio-sourced), an Eco Design- challenge, etc. we want to offer multiple “playgrounds” so that students can contribute to social and environmental issues in a creative and responsible way. »

Visit the special school page for more information about the École Supérieure de Design de Troyes!

Troyes School of Design page

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