Design Driving Innovation - Sebastian Gier

Design Driving Innovation - Sebastian Gier

11, May 2021

Designers should understand their potential to create impact. We should realize how design can drive innovation and progress.

“It is not just about ethics, it is to innovate for the whole user base,” says Sebastian Gier, Strategic Designer who designs brand-shaping and positive human experience. Besides designing future digital mobility experiences at BMW Group since 2017 he is running the Designdrives Podcast since 2019 interviewing design leaders from around the world about the impact of design. He has gained many international design recognitions and had the chance to be invited to speak at conferences around the world on design and innovation. In addition to his international work experience in both consulting and in-house studios, he gained a Masters in Advanced Product Design in Sweden as well as a Bachelors in Industrial Design at the Folkwang University in Germany.

Sebastien’s podcast Design drives operating in an interview format has featured several design leaders and entrepreneurs, from different fields of design like industrial, visual, UI/UX and even scientific bio-design. Embodying learnings from these interviews and all his experiences Sebastien shared 10 ways of driving impact with design.

Elaborating further, he says that the first way is derived from the first episode of his podcast with Cheryl Platz, a UX designer and innovator of Amazon echo. Cheryl not just prototyped but conducted roleplays to simulate realistic context. This is essential as many concepts may feel good on paper and not work in the context. Moreover, in actual contexts, one observes, discovers and learns by doing.

"The more context you have while performing your design process, the better it is for the final solution," says Sebastien Gier.

This is interconnected to the next way of design’s impact viz., building and playing. In one of his projects for aviation, he played with the 3D design process using 3D tools to make simple cardboard prototypes to assess minute things like the visibility of icons that cannot be done just with a Wacom and this applies to both digital and physical products.

Learning to unlearn, breaking our assumptions is a must to innovate. An expert of a field is more likely to have biases, that is why design consultants without any subject knowledge are more profitable as they ask the questions no one asks. An amazing example of such non-linear thinking was when Abraham Wald, a statistician, observed that the planes with the most bullet holes at the commonly observed parts made it back safely and thus the remaining parts should be armoured instead.

Sebastien says the approach of starting at the end works every time. Even if you cannot control processes or solutions you can contribute by this speculative design, thinking and strategizing for the future. While doing this one must take the help of visualizing tools like drawing on a whiteboard taking feedback from team members aligning everyone’s thoughts. This will help to build bridges as empathizing with the stakeholders is as important as that for users.

A solution that is both user and business-friendly made by effectively communicating the design strategy to investors, is an important way of innovating too. This is also practised by design entrepreneurs like in the case of Brett Lovelady who co-founded many such ventures innovating as an entrepreneur.

Today, creating super-realistic prototyping simulation while innovating is getting easier as in the instance of Sebastien designing indoor gardening completely, driving confidence in both investors and possible customers.

Since innovating is done for people, we should also look at how we are giving back to society. Sebastien explained it through the story of Robert Fabricant enabling remote areas with tools and processes to redesign.

Written by,

Anvesha Dubey


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