The essential quality of design is creativity: the capacity for predicting what technologywill make possible and what people will desire and need a year or two ahead. As
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Swiftwrote: Vision is the art of seeing things invisible,and the invisible future ��will be predictedby designers who have been trained to make and then test creative hypotheses.For designers to work effectively, they need the sympathetic understanding of management.I am sure that the new breed of managers will provide the oyster shell in whichdesigners can be the essential irritant.Around 1881, when Joseph Wharton established his now world-renowned businessschool, Queen Victoria wrote: Beware of artists, they mix with all classes of �societyand are therefore most dangerous.Designers are concerned only with the �practicalarts, and the danger is thus diminished, but they are amongst those who are willing toaccept a responsibility for the look and feel of our environment. And, if this involvesaction which disturbs those who wish only to conserve the social and environmentalpatterns of the past, then Queen Victoria was right and shall continue to be so.But we are no longer isolated. The council of the Confederation of British Industrieshas recently accepted a report from one of its committees which reads: A�company, like a natural person, must be recognized as having functions, duties andmoral obligations that go beyond the pursuit of profit and the specific requirementsThe Designer and Manager Syndrome 73of legislation profit alone is not the whole of the matter.The moral ��obligation includesa respect for our man-made environment and the elements of which it is comprised.The new generation of business executives and their natural allies the designers,can ensure that the industries under their control will improve the physical world andnot degrade it. As Camillo Olivetti said more than 50 years ago: A good �business isone which also makes money.�I have so far talked about design as though it were a straightforward respectableactivity undertaken by men and women who differ only in their technical knowledgeand specialization from the business executives with whom they must collaborate.Viewed from one position this is an accurate image of the designers persona. �Whendesign is an ordering process that changes the inventorsor development �engineers�lash-up into a marketable product, or concerns itself with industrial or civic tidinessand good manners, it does not differ greatly from any other professional occupation.But this is only one facet of design which has achieved exaggerated importance in oursociety, because only those specifically trained to see are able to perceive thephysicalworld and suggest how it might be improved. While the world remains sick, all whoare not motivated solely by greed must combine to construct crutches so that societycan continue to exist while it heals itself. Our democratic societies are, however, notmonolithic. They provide opportunities for immediate manifestations of the human
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