Mejia Sarmiento, J. R., Pasman, G., Hultink, E. J., & Stappers, P. J.
Futures techniques have long been used in large enterprises as designerly means to explore the future and guide innovation. In the automotive industry, for instance, the development of concept cars is a technique which has repeatedly proven its value. However, while big companies have broadly embraced futures techniques, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have lagged behind in applying them, largely because they are too resource-intensive and poorly suited to the SMEs’ needs and idiosyncrasies. To address this issue, we developed DIVE: Design, Innovation, Vision, and Exploration, a design-led futures technique for SMEs. Its development began with an inquiry into concept cars in the automotive industry and concept products and services in other industries. We then combined the insights derived from these design practices with elements of the existing techniques of critical design and design fiction into the creation of DIVE’s preliminary first version, which was then applied and evaluated in two iterations with SMEs, resulting in DIVE’s alpha version. After both iterations in context, it seems that DIVE suits the SMEs because of its compact and inexpensive activities which emphasize making and storytelling. Although the results of these activities might be less flashy than concept cars, these simple prototypes and videos help SMEs internalize and share a clear image of a preferable future, commonly known as vision. Developing DIVE thus helped us explore how design can support SMEs in envisioning the future in the context of innovation.
Mejia Sarmiento, J. R., Simonse, W. L., & Hultink, E. J.
Industrial firms are facing a constant dilemma, being ready for the future, have a vision, and at the same time act within the current situation, exploit current products efficiently. This research examines visions that embody future opportunities and ideas, “vision concepts” such as concept cars and concept kitchens. We studied five cases of vision concepts to unravel the nature of design techniques behind these vision concepts. Our findings present a comparison of similarities and differences in nature, organizational context, and design techniques. The key contribution of the study centers on a new understanding of how vision concepts explore the future though the embodiment of ideas and how designers share and lead the concept visioning process in the organizational context. We propose an initial framework for the design of vision concepts with significant implications for industrial firms.
The design of a vision concept to explore the future of Solutions Group
Siga el link para ver un video explicativo en español – Another video (in Spanish) following this link.
Over the last few decades, design has gained a prominent strategic position. Organizations have started to look at design as a process, which adds value to the front end of innovation (Verganti, 2009). As a process, Deserti (2011) distinguishes between situational and visionary design. The latter, also known as design-led futures, is a form of design, interested in ideas and not just products (Dunne & Raby, 2011), which experiment on speculative futures (Auger, 2012) to stimulate radical innovation. Prototypical examples are concept cars, traditionally used to guide automakers through change.
Small and medium-sized enterprises have lagged behind in applying design (De Lille, 2014), especially in nontraditional forms, e.g. design-led futures, largely because there are no established methods to facilitate their implementation. We propose a tailor-made, design-led futures technique that assists designers through developing vision concepts for SMEs (Mejia Sarmiento, Pasman, Hultink, & Stappers, 2017), called DIVE. It builds on our inquiries on vision concepts in large corporations (Mejia Sarmiento, Hultink, Pasman, & Stappers, 2016).
Mejia Sarmiento, J. R., Pasman, G., & Stappers, P. J.
In the landscape of design research, several techniques of speculative design -or design about ideas- have been positioned, each with a different time frame. Design Fiction and Critical Design, for instance, emerged as making activities that explore the near and the speculative future, respectively. We previously defined Vision Concepts as a design-led technique that explores and communicates speculative futures. Even though Vision Concepts, such as long-term concept cars and products, have been part of the industry since 1938, previous work has failed to identify and understand them from the design research perspective or compared them with other speculative design techniques. This study intends to identify which spot Vision Concepts occupies within the landscape of design research. To that end, we developed a multiple case analysis that includes examples of Vision Concepts, Design Fiction, and Critical Design. This paper will help design researchers identify the similarities and differences between Vision Concepts and the other speculative design techniques and gain knowledge about when and why to apply this technique.
Keywords: vision concepts; concept cars; speculative design; design fiction; critical design