[Herald Design Forum 2018]‘Designers’ new role is to ask questions about new frontiers of existence’

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Sept 16, 2018 - 12:38
  • Updated : Sept 16, 2018 - 12:39

Instead of using design to provide solutions to problems, designers increasingly ask questions about parameters of their work and push the frontiers of new technologies and human behaviors, according to Deyan Sudjic, the director of the Design Museum in London.

“Design and designers are at a time when they are more questioning rather than answering, such as what can design do for our lives and what kind of changes it would bring,” he said during a lecture titled, “How Fast Can We Go? The Future of Design,” at the Herald Design Forum 2018 held at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Saturday.

Director of the Design Museum since 2006, the British writer and broadcaster has authored numerous books, including “Norman Foster,” “The Edifice Complex,” “The Language of Things” and “The Language of Cities.”

He was the director of Glasgow UK City of Architecture in 1999 and curator of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2002. 

Deyan Sudjic, the director of the Design Museum in London, speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2018 at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul on Saturday. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Design, in the past, was regarded a rational, scientific method of offering optimal solutions to industrial problems, but its role has changed to encompass a more unlimited array of possibilities, he said. “Design nowadays transcends the 19th and 20th-century role of making products more intelligible and persuading people to buy them.”

Sudjic highlighted revolutionary designs and ideas such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX program for developing space transportation to Mars; Steve Job’s iPhone that has revolutionized global commerce and aided the emergence of Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and Tinder; and autonomous vehicles that are expected to bring benefits, such as increased safety and mobility, higher customer satisfaction, and lower crime.

Apple Park -- the ring-shaped corporate headquarters of Apple in Cupertino, California, designed by architect Norman Foster -- embodies the philosophy of a “self-contained world,” Sudjic explained, as the campus is powered 100 percent by renewable energy and has a fitness center, energy plant and acres of apricot orchards.

“Our museum gets 600,000 people annually through the door, but our Twitter account has 4.5 million followers,” Sudjic said, adding the online platform and its innovative designs are transforming the way museums operate.

“We are used to hearing that design has created a frightening world in which we human beings are constantly being redesigned and taken over by intelligent machines, and yet, when I look at designs that are so full of energy and passion, I feel optimistic that design can still make our future better,” Sudjic said.

By Joel Lee (