IIT Institute of Design Community

Making Meaning:
The Role of Design Research in Designing Deep Value

The driving principle for design in the new millennium should be about creating deep empathy and connection with the people we design for. The skills for developing this understanding have become a required core competency for designers to create compelling experiences. Rather than being an adjunct to design processes, design research has become a central focus.

Our priority should be in unearthing and refining a clear sense of what creates value at different levels of experience. "Meaningful experiences" are the highest embodiment of value. A process of "making meaning" connects the individual to those experiences that deliver inspiration and beauty through the design engagement.

One huge area of opportunity for design is with emerging market economies. By focusing on meaning, our industry can cross borders and boundaries to "design for the majority," creating a connections in this shrinking and flattening world.

What are the implications for design research?
What is the historical context for this shift?
How is this shift impacting methodological approaches?
How is this phenomena related to the convergence between design and research activities?
What are the key issues related to uncovering what is truly meaningful to people?


Darrel Rhea, CEO of Cheskin, has spent the last 25 years working on the front lines of innovation with the world's top corporations -- helping them understand their customers, their needs and their experiences -- and marrying the best of design, strategy and market research into a solid business proposition.

Featured in Malcolm Gladwell's New York Times bestseller Blink, Rhea is one of America's top strategic design consultants. His mission is to help companies create products, services and brands that serve both the consumer and the bottom line and to build value by generating experiences that are meaningful to consumers and profitable to producers, shareholders and investors. His expertise has helped guide leading companies including Microsoft, Pepsi, Herman Miller, Kraft, Motorola, General Mills, Andersen Windows, Procter & Gamble, 3M, and Hewlett-Packard.

Rhea is a frequent keynote speaker to senior executives at U.S. and international organizations and conferences including Forbes CEO and CIO Forums, Kellogg School Marketing Conference, Icograda International Design Conference, the Commonwealth Club, PDMA, IDSA, and DMI.

In his book, Making Meaning: How Successful Businesses Deliver Meaningful Experiences, Darrel pushes the envelope of innovation in design, business strategy, marketing, and customer experience. At the heart of his work is a clear-cut and simple message of making meaning through relentless attention to the people you serve.

j vimeo.com/11274755

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