The Future of Work/Play

We are delighted to invite you to The Future of Work/Play.

Date: Friday 20th April 2018
Time: 14:00 – 18:00

Location: Lecture Theatre A
London College of Communication,
University of the Arts London

Tickets Here

In the final stage of their degree, BA(Hons) Design Management & Culture students began to question the possible professional routes to undertake following graduation. After acknowledging the motives that brought an institution such as the London College of Communication to implement a course synthesising design practice with management, we decided to investigate the broader needs of the industry.

Throughout our exploration we identified four major trends, that we determined as the leading phenomenon on a globally scale, sustaining the prevailing development in the sphere of work. The trends under our enquiry are AI and Automation, Digital Nomadism, Diversity and Collaboration.  We decided to address and challenge these findings through The Future of Work/Play, a symposium running on 20th April 2018 at London College of Communication. Five experts will  explore the future from a sociological and humanistic point of view and provide the audience with viable insights on how to approach work nowadays for a positive impact in the long-run.

Here are the experts taking on the challenge:

Dr. John Fass – speaker and panelist. Designer, researcher, lecturer, and course leader for BA (Hons) Information and Interface Design at London College of Communication.

Tiu de Haan – speaker and panelist. Ritual designer, creative facilitator, inspirational speaker, voiceover artist and musician.

Victor Bloch – speaker and panelist. Futurist, speaker and moderator.

Alison Coward – speaker and panelist. Founder of Bracket, strategist, coach and workshop facilitator .

Moderated by Luke Robert Mason. Science communicator, journalist and the Director of Virtual Futures – an events series engaging the public to question the future through a ‘techno-philosophical lens’.

The day will include activities and a conclusive networking session with drinks and snacks.

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Organised by BA(Hons) Design Management & Cultures students and staff. Design School | Branding & Design Innovation Programme | University of the Arts London

Funded by the Staff Student Engagement Fund.


The Value of Design Management

‘Design Management is a leadership role, one that requires explaining, inspiring, persuading and demonstrating how design can positively contribute to an organisation in many different ways.’ Kathryn Best, 2006

Design, as a communication channel, is a constitutive characteristic of any kind of organisation, it is ‘intrinsically linked to business in a way that both can add and create value’ (Best, 2006). Therefore, in order to properly use this powerful tool, an organisation needs a person with leadership skills the design process: the design manager.

In order for design to be effective, it is essential for design managers to have a good understanding of the marketing strategy, the financial position, the philosophy and the goals of the company and of how design can strategically play for their business in order, to achieve successful outcomes.

When it comes to business, the most important keywords to remind are: purpose, people and profit. Designers’ aim is to translate aesthetic into functionality by giving to their creativity a specific purpose or use. Companies or clients work in order to obtain a profit from the products realised by the designers. The design managers mediate between these figures by engaging and acting collaboratively with all the aspects and people of the design process, generating an action plan and continuously measuring the work and the performance (Reifi and Emmitt, 2012).

Design management is focused on the people producing but also enjoying the products (the consumers) that a company offers into the market. Although, this discipline is not only about the outcomes of a business but has the responsibility of assisting especially the early stages of the production process.

The presence of a design manager within a company can contribute to extend a vision or an idea to its maximum potential by making it innovative and marketable at the same time. The design manager must represent the identity of the company he/she is working for and elaborate strategies to enrich it. This role is in charge of taking part of the realisation of the product’s prototype, which needs to be an exact representation of the identity, the budget and the aims of the company, as well as taking part of the advertising, marketing and finally retail processes, as he must have a perfect notion of the values of the company and the needs of the consumers.

In a world that becomes more competitive every day and in which the creative industries are rapidly growing ‘as one of the best ways to increase competitive advantage between commercial companies and even entire countries’ (Best, 2010), there is the need for designers to work alongside more specialised figures with a wider understanding of the sector.

Design managers are problem solvers. Managing design can create and add a positive value not only to a company but to the entire world by operating toward the solutions of some of the biggest challenges of our society such as environmental, social and humanitarian issues. Design, with the help of design managers, can use ‘technology as a transformation tool’ (Best, 2006) to improve the world we live in.

Written by: Beatrice Bekar, DMC 2018.



Best, K. (2006). Design management. Managing design strategy, process and implementation. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Academia, pp.: 6-7, 12, 16-18.

Best, K. (2010). The fundamentals of design management. Lausanne: AVA Academia, pp.: 8-9.

El. Reifi, M. and Emmitt, S. (2013). Perceptions of lean design management. Architectural Engineering and Design Management, 9(3), pp.195-208.


Design Management and Manufacturing

While setting its philosophy or approach, it is fundamental for a manufacturing company to decide whether to focus on the product itself or on the process of its production. By choosing to focus on the process, rather than just on the final product, a company chooses quality before quantity.

In manufacturing, as well as in other types of companies, the design management department assumes a vital role. The quest for quality should be developed by companies through the help of design managers, whose duty is to ensure that all the departments, that work within an organisation, are proceeding toward the same goal and that the transmission of the instructions among the sectors is carried clearly. Design management adds value not only to the company, by helping in the development of ‘products and services that the customers will perceive as superior’, but also to ‘the customers, by informing them about the product’s attributes’ and by making them directly involved in the process (Borja De Mozota, 2003).

Inside a manufacturing industry, the role of the design management department should also be, therefore, about reducing complexity by translating it into simplicity, ensuring good communication, developing effective strategies and problem solving.

A successful manufacturing strategy is, for example, the Toyota Production System (TPS). The system, developed by Taiichi Ohno in the first half of 20th century, is the core on which Lean Management is based. The system, which make the Toyota company internationally recognised for its success, is possible thanks to figures like the design managers.

TPS’s philosophy is essentially based on: eliminating waste, always improving the system and working from the client’s perspective.

A student of Thaiichi Ohno once said: “We at Toyota made a mistake. We should never called it the Toyota Production System, we should have called it the Toyota Thinking System. Because the real point is to make people think and people are the value of the system”.

As explained by Soliman in his essay, the TPS is focused not only on the process of creation but especially on people, which are the measurement by which changes and improvements can be planned and achieved. By talking about ‘people’, TPS means both customers and employees; many companies, in fact, make the mistake of developing their systems and technologies without also developing, training and coaching their people which are the only real ‘foundation of the continuous improvement’.

The system has the property of being able to be customised and adapted depending on the environment in which it’s used. TPS philosophy is also based on two Japanese words: ‘kata’, which stands for ‘way of doing it’ or ‘series of practice moves to build on form and technique’ (Soliman, 2015); and ‘jidoka’ which means ‘automation’ and represents a quality control process. This last term is a principle that ensures the construction, and not the inspection, of quality. TPS goal is to make it right at the first time by primarily developing a strategy for excellence that involves people, safety, people morale, costs, productivity and, of course, quality.

The key for making a difference is to work with people and for people in the prospect of distributing quality and not quantity. Design and manufacturing’s future won’t be about products but about systems in which human beings will eventually stop just producing and start thinking.

Written by: Beatrice Bekar, DMC 2018. 

  • Borja de Mozota, B. (2003). Design management. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
  • Bruce, M. and Bessant, J. (2002). Design in business. Harlow, England: Financial Times/Prentice Hallm. pp. 16-23.
  • Soliman, M. (2015). What’s Toyota Production System Really About?. 1st ed. Cairo: The American University in Cairo.