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In today’s postmodern and dynamic society, our roles are constantly changing and evolving to meet new challenges, and a designer is no different.

We’re in a domain that requires ‘trans shaping’ elements for design instead of following a set of rules and guidelines. As distinct personalities, our existence moves between different realities, in which we meet new challenges and portray a separate entity. This occurrence shows that it’s not merely about design only but we can observe in different parts of society.

NEW PHILOSOPHIES

When it comes to the question of when we became such inconsistent beings with changing roles in new settings, there’s no objective answer. Designers believe that it has much to do with living in an age characterized by virtuality, which is, in essence, a world where we can become something completely different.

This phenomenon is encouraging talks about the ‘material mind’ all over again. The philosophy is called ‘New Materialism’ and talks about how the matter has a mind of its own.

Sure, it isn’t a sentient being, but the idea is that matter has its own force. Each of these substances has a particular force and this allows various physical and mental processes to take place.

De Castelli Marea by Zanellato Bortotto ©Alberto Parise

It also emphasizes the relationships humans need to pursue to survive in an era influenced by the virtual web. Now, digital natives demand the incorporation of advanced technology. To implement this, we’re now designing to preserve connections rather than just objective features, like convenience. If we don’t fill the interaction gap, we can impact relationships and ultimately warp people’s view of responsiveness.

DESIGNERS AND HOW THEY INTERPRET THEIR ROLES

Many people believe that technology alienates the creator from the creation, but this is a misunderstanding. This applies to industrialization rather than automation.

If anything, postmodern technology has accommodated designers to connect more with what they create by focusing on the effects, sustainability, and other needs for the ultimate user experience.

If you look at things this way, machines don’t take creativity away from designers. On the contrary, it acts as a helper that allows and develops a creative production process.



Max Lipsey Woven Bench ©Casper Sejersen

MERGING THE ROLES OF DESIGNER AND ENTREPRENEUR

Throughout the ages, designers have adopted different roles. Initially, they gathered the material, refined it, and primed it before using it to craft a motif. Later, they sourced materials from a third party and employed their knowledge to create a design.

Now, the process is far more dynamic. Although things have become easier in terms of production thanks to automation, 3D printing, and industrial elements, designers have to spend more time on coming up with bespoke designs that align with the clients’ needs.

The purpose of designs is now far more than serving a function – they need to radiate a specific personality.

Simone Crestani Eterea console table ©Alberto Parise

There are various beneficial aspects of this. Designers can become more involved in the production process to pay attention to details. Since they are crafting new spatial settings and elements for a diverse range of settings, designers often go on to adopt a varying profession. Their experience in design helps them become better therapists, environmentalists, and even psychologists.

TWO DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS

As a designer, our roles are interconnected. Today, we’re not only developing new products constantly. In fact, for a steady and productive workflow, we need to retain effective engagement with consumers.

It should emphasize how consumers are aware of what they are expecting from a design. Yes, designers in today’s age are involved in the creation process but at the same time, their role has gone from that of a producer to an aggregator.

Designers’ capacity to establish and leverage systematic networks that influence numerous markets is proof of this.


Bottega Intreccio Lisetta ©courtesy of Bottega Intreccio

THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BOTH CAPACITIES

Successful designers possess key traits that help them become creative entrepreneurs and professionals in other fields.

In both cases, they need to address a problem with creative solutions, maintain focus on the end user’s experience and generate more value in the process.

Many industries are reliant on designers to develop advanced products and spatial elements. As a result, a large part of the new generation is looking to enter the design workforce – it provides them with an opportunity to build a lucrative career.

At the same time, they should have the motivation to start their own ventures, products, or agencies.

Bitossi Ceramiche ©Delfino Sisto Legnani

“Allowing clients to be involved in every detail of a project VS implementing a clearly defined framework where the consultant/project manager is responsible for decision making” Which of these scenarios is more common in the UAE?

When asked which approach designers in the Middle East take, I’d say that client involvement is critical. You can’t leave out the main source of knowledge that can determine whether the end user will have a pleasant experience or not.

We’ve come a far way from creating buildings just for aesthetic purposes, they need to add to the user experience as well. To achieve this, we need to appreciate each other’s experiential value; both the designer and client bring essential industry knowledge to the table.

DISCUSSING BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

No matter what project, I always need to discuss business objectives with a client in the initial briefing. As a designer, you have to assure them that they can leave the finer details to you.

Before we come on the topic of design tools, I suggest to clients that they focus on the business objectives and desired outcomes.

COMMUNICATION

At the end, how successfully we execute a project comes down to trust. It’s entirely up to a client – how willing they are to trust the designer and collaborate with them.


Nayef Francis Cul de Sac ©Karen&Josette

WHEN DID IT START?

Unlike historical events in a textbook, there’s no objective date as to when the design field adopted a collaborative view of going about projects. For me, this has always been the case in a region that’s so heavily dependent on cultural elements of craftsmanship.

You can go back to the days when locals would visit an artist or craftsman and ask them for a product, such as a painting or a chair. They make sure to keep track of whether or not the designer is achieving the desired outcome.

In essence, this is how we do things today.


Social Label Hout by Piet Hein Eek & Woodworks

IS IT AN EFFICIENT APPROACH?

You’re not designing for the client, but rather the end user. Although it may take extra time to communicate over every detail with the client, they know best if a design will cater to the end user’s expectations. Hence, it’s more productive and definitely efficient in the long term.

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