The Power Of Design

Recipient Of A Long String Of The World’s Most Prestigious Industrial Design Awards, Dr. Hakan Gürsu Accesses The Future Of Design And Consumers’ Changing Expectations.

What in your view is product design?
In the simplest terms, every act of designing is the art of solving a rational and aesthetic problem. To put it another way, I would define design, to which innovation has also been added in recent years, as an extraordinary problem-solving skill based on our existing system of values (science/technology). I should also add that it is essential that products be designed so as to create value added, to be environmentally sensitive and to make human life easier. Design is a profession that offers a rich array of alternatives to those who take pleasure in details.

How do you view the current state of industrial design?
We can see that all the systems used to bring out the technological products on which we are becoming increasingly dependent are becoming more and more alike and that inter-product competition is confined to price range and after-sale service. To a large extent, product design is the factor that differentiates brands, and we see that the ability to design innovative and valuable products is gradually assuming more importance.

What are the dynamics behind the recent rise in industrial design?
The impact of a normal design process on total production cost is only about 5%, but its measurable effect on the market value of the product can go as high as 70%. This is understood by the broad masses of people, which, I believe, enhances the belief and desire that new products should undergo a process of total design.

Technological innovations and discoveries can only provide value added to the economy by being turned into products that can reach the man in the street. It is no secret either that successfully turning an invention into a product lies to a large extent in the process of total design. All the dynamic changes that are taking place today make the process of total design increasingly more meaningful and indispensable for every new product for which a need is going to be felt in a more quality and sustainable future. I believe the global need for integrated design services is rapidly rising for that reason.

Where is Turkey in this trend? Where do we stand in terms of design capability?
While a production-weary world is being rocked by a series of crises and the top players are changing places with unprecedented speed, Turkey, as a rapidly growing and steadily developing country, has the 17th largest economy in the world. As in the other developing countries, we have a vital need to create global brands that produce goods and services that are self-renewing and high in value added in order to grow and strengthen our economy. As a first condition, all our production units, from the biggest to the smallest, need to appreciate the value and significance of product design and the need for R&D investments, and to realize that this requires infinite patience, and that sustaining such investment is actually not a costly risk.

As the western world is slowing down, Turkey is developing. The west’s brand designers are taking an interest in our country and want to play an active role in the dynamic transformation of that static energy. That means competition, and more.  The playing field may not look level, but that doesn’t scare us. On the contrary we regard those developments as an opportunity to strut our stuff. We might say that we have more than gotten used to playing away from home, by global rules, and getting good results. The design team we put together and developed on our limited resources has received a total of 45 design awards, 30 of which were international, in the last five years. That more than gives us hope for the future. Garnering awards simultaneously in seven categories in A’ Design Award 2010 to become European champion is not an extraordinary and astonishing feat for us any more. But bringing our country to the attention of the foreign firms that that are watching us is even more gratifying than the awards themselves. It is no coincidence either that our name appears on a U.S.-published list of the world’s top ten design firms.

You have chalked up 45 design awards, 30 of them international, in the last five years. What keeps you going as you develop these ideas and designs? What do you pay attention to?
Those international successes are the result not merely of joining the ranks of those who can recognize the world’s steadily growing environmental problems early, but having the courage to propose solutions. Meanwhile the diversity of the awards we have won and the fact that a given product has won similar big awards in different contests can be linked to the development of a common global awareness of what constitutes a good product. At the same time I see those results as consistent with a growing trend towards the formation of a common global taste in the world.

How do you view the future of industrial design?
We see that the countries that are going forward in the area of industrial product design are turning those gains into brand value in a reasonable period of time. The act of designing a product requires passion, conviction, patience, determination, sustainable experience and more, and all the know-how and experience gained in the process define the word stability. The design process is being joined in an increasingly vital way to creating high value added products. We will therefore succeed to the degree we realize that the success and sustainability of that process depends on all producing individuals, units and firms building a sharing platform together.

We are currently undergoing a transformation to a new world order in which multifaceted corporate design firms are gradually replacing individual designers. We realize that models that can respond quickly to that change are going to capture the advantage and in time become stronger. Design and product development spending is on the rise around the world. The major countries that are completing their intellectual evolution and expending increasingly more effort and money on innovation and developing design products are the U.S.A., Japan, Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries; the second generation Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and maybe even the UK, in Europe; and the rising new stars, South Korea, China and India.