This monograph is about developing and evaluating design concepts, and why that skill is crucial in tackling complex problems. It shows how the strength derived from trusting your intuition can result in concepts and solutions, for everyone from Schiphol Airport to elderly people living with dementia and the engineers trying to rid the oceans of the ‘plastic soup’. The central message: keep asking yourself ‘Is it good enough?’
The design trade has professionalised massively in recent decades, progress which can only be applauded. We have seen huge advances in all kinds of areas, from materials to dealing with organisations, behavioural change, emotions, data and technology.
This relatively young profession is going through tumultuous times. We were once designers of stuff, but nowadays we ideally want to be means-independent. We would rather tackle the challenges at their root. As a result design solutions today are not necessarily physical hardware, but increasingly take the form of services, systemic changes or unexpected combinations of products and services.
Amidst all this progress, according to the writer, only one factor makes any difference in the end: the quality of the idea. Revolutionary developments are driven by ideas that capture the imagination, that set balls rolling and that ultimately result in relevant and impactful solutions.
In an increasingly complex world, it is the task of the designer to table, to substantiate and to advance those ideas. This publication is my modest attempt at addressing one key question at the heart of all this: how do you know something is a good idea?
Jeroen van Erp is the founder of international strategic design agency Fabrique and a professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology.