Design-Led Innovation

Design-Led Innovation

What is it?

You know how you look at Airbnb and think, “How do they do it?”. Well, it helps that they’re a design-driven company. It’s an innovation that includes empathising, defining, ideating, prototyping and testing. It is a human-centric approach involving both mindset and processes to value creation or problem-solving.

Want of Experience

Consumers are more willing to pay for experiences (meaning), businesses are looking where the opportunities lie to create satisfying experiences. It takes some time to understand the deep emotional ties that consumers develop with their products which will render significant competitive advantage. This is where Design Thinking comes in.


Design-led Innovation or Design Thinking applies tools and processes used by designers (people who have made it their profession to solve problems) to help us overcome these common biases and challenge our own assumptions. Design-driven people create with the end user in mind.

John Chisholm (based on the famous book “Design-Driven Innovation from Verganti, 2009) explains it in best: “Design-driven innovation is an approach to innovation based on the observation that people do not just purchase products or services, they buy ‘meaning’ – where users’ needs are not only satisfied by form and function, but also through experience (meaning).

The meanings that a product or service might have for its users include the memories it invokes, the extent and quality of interaction and enjoyment. These determine how closely the user identifies with the product or service and how much the product or service becomes part of the user’s sense of self. A product or service can hold meaning by embodying goals, skills and shaping the identity of its users.

Meanings result from the interaction between user and product. It is up to the businesses to decide what do they want to do with it. We can use that to earn trust and sell our products and services that way.

The problem is, we usually focus on the delivery instead of our business impact. And tend to rely on our experience and intuition which, left unchecked, we can miss out fully understanding the opportunity. There’s a lot of ideating as to whether people experience it as a valuable addition to their lives. It’s a process of transformation. It requires seamlessly streamlining people, processes, technology and funding.

Our Take

As a design company that traditionally moves around creating a physical interior look for our clients, this is valuable knowledge for us at mü interior. How we can bring that interior designing we always do into designing experiences for everyone, from in the office to our clients and partners. It’s a step-by-step process during which we can learn how to use deep questioning to put together facts with newly uncovered knowledge and apply.

We want to solve problems and ask the right questions. Great design can radically transform the way a business works and thinks, translating to significant results and we want to work towards that.

The difference with design-driven companies is that they seek to go far beyond understanding what customers want, but rather move into acquiring an in-depth look into people’s behaviour, emotions and struggles. They value solving the customer’s problem, enabling the end user to be a better version of themselves, instead of simply pushing an existing solution. And by this, they provide the right conditions to create desirable products and services that customers love.”


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