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Let us call on the designers to implement the post-COVID

Open letter from the public associations supporting the design sectors in Belgium

8 May 2020

The public associations supporting the design sectors - Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode, MAD - Home of Creators, Flanders DC and Wallonie Design - are working together to highlight the vital strengths of its professionals, who are actors of change.

We are convinced that designers will be able to help society, public authorities, institutions and companies to invent and implement scenarios and solutions that will enable us to live together more harmoniously, while taking into account the turbulent/disruptive context of 2020.

The post-COVID process cannot and must not be reduced to a return to normality. We are currently living through unprecedented times, caused by COVID-19 challenging our activities, our habits, our routines and our protocols.

These situations question some of the fundamental assumptions that drive our institutions and businesses. 

These situations highlight the need to re-invent new systems while analysing existing infrastructures, whether these are organisational, material, logistical, health-related or educational.

That's what designers do. This is the essence of the design profession.

Let us remember Herbert A. Simon (Nobel Prize winner and economist). In "The Sciences of the Artificial" (1969), he provides a meta-definition of design that is agreed upon by academics and practitioners alike: "Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones."  We often also speak of "better situations for human beings."

The designer considers solutions whereby people find answers to their desires, needs and frustrations, going on to design, prototype, make, refine and implement such solutions. 

There will be many opportunities for review, recovery and design expertise will provide economic, ethical, human and systemic value to this. Services and products need to be repositioned (especially with digital technology); health, food and education systems need to be redesigned. 

From strategic design to design thinking and systems design, the business expertise of design will help you to consider better possibilities.

From urban design to the design of objects, services and platforms, humanity has accumulated experience and expertise. 

Designers contribute to the implementation of systems that allow people to live, move, eat, relax, etc. not only in relation to public policies, engineers, technicians, retailers, managers, entrepreneurs and start-ups, but also large companies and non-profit associations.

  • Design stands at the crossroads of the desirable (human), feasible (technology) and viable (business).
  • Design is vertical, from the abstract idea to its actual, pragmatic, useful and usable implementation. 
  • Design offers the tools and processes to ensure a structured implementation of ideas and innovate in many sectors.

Design must be a part of the multi-disciplinary conversations used to invent, design, prototype the desirable, feasible and viable futures to meet citizens' needs.
Designers can support working groups with an unconventional approach because their methods allow them to approach the most complex systems strategically. 
Their expertise can be applied across all fields: mobility, public space, healthcare, politics, contact with users, finance, security, the list is almost endless.
In many European countries, the public authorities have taken advantage of design thinking.

You can feel confident about bringing designers into task forces and using them for public specifications. You can find them on the websites of the organisations that have signed this letter.

Please feel free to expand on these points,

Yours sincerely,

Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode
Flanders District of Creativity
MAD, Home of Creators
Wallonie Design

 

This letter is written in association with Alok Nandi, designer and former President of the Interaction Design Association (www.aloknandi.com ).

The institutions behind this open letter are: 

Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode is the public agency that supports companies and designers in Wallonia and Brussels in their international development.
The agency offers specific services in terms of export support for the targeted industries. Innovation, reliability and long-term stability are key virtues advocated by WBDM.
Contact: Giorgia Morero, project manager (giorgia.morero@wbdm.be)

MAD, Home of Creators is a platform for gathering expertise from the Fashion and Design sectors that makes a practical contribution to Brussels' economic development, employment and influence in the context of innovation, excellence and participation.
Contact: Elke Timmerman, Director MAD LAB+ (elke.timmerman@mad.brussels)

Flanders District of Creativity (Flanders DC) is the single point of contact for the creative business sector in Flanders. It supports entrepreneurs who want to build or grow their business. 
Contact: Pascal Cools, Managing Director (pascal.cools@flandersdc.be )

Wallonie Design is the Walloon reference organisation that facilitates the use of design to bring innovations to life and anticipate changes in society, for the benefit of all. Wallonie Design values design as a driving force for sustainable and economic development. Its objective is to increase the use of design and its methods, within Walloon companies and public authorities.
Contact: Clio Brzakala, Director (clio.brzakala@walloniedesign.be)