Ralph CAPLAN (Rediscovered)

Hurray ! a book that hasn’t aged as nothing has really changed!

It is good and invigorating to know that people think.
People who allow you to situate yourself between what they say and what you do…
Ralf Caplan , a journalist, writer & design consultant clearly analyses, with rigour and humour, the stakes of design with BY DESIGN.

« … :the design process has more to do with your life than you may think. »

« The trajectory of design has been moving from the design of objects to the design of the situations in which objects are made and used »

It is remarkable to see that this “design of the situations”, in which the creation of objects has become legitimate, already had an evident meaning. This could be a real subject for today;
it is not at all the case, but almost the opposite.
It was 1982.
Read then and read again today it remains dramatically relevant as nothing has changed.

BY DESIGN – St. Martin’s Press New York 1982
Nouvelle édition – Fairchild Books 2005


Ralph CAPLAN, sequel and pretext.

« The difficulty lies not in learning what is wanted, but in being able
to provide it »

This is a question amongst others asked in the book BY DESIGN; we feel like repeating it.

Study budget (consumer marketing tests) against creative budget.

It is an illusion to rely on tests in order to acquire a knowledge of the market expectations…
At the best, you can get an idea of the existing situation. And this does not lead to real innovation.

It is also an illusion, more often than not, to rely on tests for assuring products success.

First, because the product that is tested has already been conceived and arbitrarily selected within the company; secondly (everybody should know that…) : success is the result of multiple factors including the brand, its communication, its commercial set up and the product cannot be taken out this context.

But you can’t look into the crystal ball to know what the users want…
There is not a specific need for a market.
There are only reactions to offers , which allow the improvement or the renewal of solutions.

Who could have predicted the development of the mobile phone ?
The idea definitely did not originate from the user.
But the appropriation by the users partly induced the evolution of the product.

The mobile phone is a technological achievement overtaken by its users : the way they use and divert the function is a real lesson.
To notice it is simple. To go on anticipating is more difficult.

The creative dimension is absent from all these questions in most companies, in every field.
If the aesthetics go round in circles, the research budgets, including design, functional concepts, products interface and materials are non existent.
We are nonetheless at the heart of the development and strategy of the company.
On a scale of one 10 to 100, creation (design) equals 10 and testing, 90.
10 cents are invested for the seeds, and 90, for the insecticides.

We shall maybe have a better offer the day the tendency is reversed.

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