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David Carlson

Falsterbo, Sweden

Design management

Member since May 29, 2007

  • Design vs Branding

    Communication, Communication Design


    I was reading an article some weeks ago in the Swedish business magazine Dagens Industri which made me a bit confused. The theme was branding (and design). In the article, Stefan Ölander from the branding agency Rewir says; "Today most products and services are exchangeable, it's branding and communication that make the difference."

    I have a few objections.

    My first questions is - could Apple exchange the iPod or iTunes? Could Fritz Hansen exchange the Ant chair? Could Omega exchange the Speedmaster?

    My second question is - does he mean that a company can exchange most products without changing the company and its values itself? Like changing into products with bad design, of poor quality, without authenticity which are bad for the environment? Or disposable products that we are not emotional connected to? Or just some smoothed average design that are not iconic and timeless at all? Products made by child labour? And so on…

    If we hold for true that a brand is (only) a perception in a consumers mind, the physical deliverance of great products will be even more important; the smell, taste, feel, look and sound. Everything that actually has to do with design. Design is like a "visualization of a business strategy" and products are the true messengers of a brand. Nothing you just replace by snapping the fingers.

    Today you can't diminish the importance of good design. Business executives (and marketers…) that don't understand the power of design in gene...

  • A discussion about Vulgarism

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design


    I would like to continue the discussion that I started in my latest David Report bulletin. The issue is called Vulgarism and concerns the ongoing convergence between design and art. At the recent Milan Furniture Fair we saw teapots in super size, huge Pinocchio dolls in mosaic, porcelain horse heads and knitted dogs. Is design flirting with art, or is it art flirting with design? I have got lots of feedback which prove that it is important that the Vulgarism is discussed and that serious questions about it are brought onto the agenda.

    A new money-driven scene is created when the art galleries suddenly see a possibility to commercialize a current trend in the design world. Or is it the other way round; the trend is created by the galleries? As I mentioned in the Vulgarism bulletin Ambra Medda, the founder of Design Miami, sees a great demand of design-art from celebrities and young wealthy couples. It is maybe just natural that the designers would like to grab the money and consequently line up to take part in the rat-race?

    I would like to quote Philip Wood from Citizen-Citizen who responded to the bulletin: “Just because it’s expensive and limited edition doesn’t make it art”. That is very true. I think that most people involved in the art world would agree. But what about design? What do all people involved in the design world say? A somewhat pushing question could be; is it design at all? According to me design is closely associated with industrial production, so a certai...

  • A world full of bad design

    Environment, Environmental Design

    Unfortunately my headline is true. We live in a world crowded by bad design. Of course, within certain limits, everyone is free to produce and sell whatever they like, and boy, they certainly do. The bad design can be seen in everything from small products to urban architecture. It pollutes our life, both when it’s around us and when it is thrown away. Sometimes you wonder if the manufacturers don’t for a minute think about the mountains of trash they are contributing to.

    In Singapore 10Touchpoints is trying to make a difference. They are working for better design and better living. They see the parking coupon, the seat at the hawker centre or the playground near your block as touchpoints. And well-designed touchpoints close the gap between what people want and need. 10Touchpoints has a nice description on what good design is according to them:

    “Good design puts people in the centre of the design process. It incorporates systems thinking, technology, historical and contextual relevance. It is economically viable. It is informed by ethics and responsibility without impeding social and technical innovation. It is beautiful.

    Good design brings various values such as sustainability, accessibility, usability and beauty to public spaces like our schools, hospitals, food places, and parks.”

    The project 10Touchpoints is launched by the Design Singapore Council and it has enlisted people in identifying things in their everyday public space that are irritating because of po...

  • Could Saab grab the design category?

    Communication, Industrial Design

    I was just reading an article in the Swedish paper Dagens Industri about the design director of Saab, Bryan Nesbitt. Or not really the official design director, he holds the title Executive Director GM Europe design and through that he gets the responsibility for both Saab and Opel (and American car brand Saturn for some reason).

    The design director talks about Scandinavian design values. We should know that he once designed a not that smart and good looking car, the Chrysler PT Cruiser. According to me it is everything but design based on subtle Scandinavian traditions and design trends. It’s design based on vulgarity. Like something out of a cartoon.

    This fact makes me a little nervous. Because I like Saab. I’m actually driving a Saab myself. It is one of the few car brands that still hasn’t ended up in the undistinctive swamp of streamlined standardisation. More or less all cars look the same today. When I was small an Audi was an Audi and a BMW was a BMW. Even Opel had an identity back then… What’s good with Saab today is that they still have a recognisable shape.

    Design has always been important for Saab. To me it is a mystery why Saab doesn’t try to grab and own the category of “design” in the car industry. The design category is still vacant and would give Saab a strong identity side by side with those of “safety” for Volvo, “driving” for BMW, “luxury” for Lexus and “reliable” for Toyota. Today Saab as a brand is somewhat suffering inside the GM family and...

  • A lack of design knowledge

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design

    There is a lot of talk going around concerning a possible backlash against design and innovation.

    And that is very true. I see it all the time in Sweden as well, there is a huge lack of knowledge among Swedish companies (mostly small and mid-size). And it is not because of the lack of clever and talented designers in Sweden. It is the lack of knowledge how to run a design process and how to write a creative design brief. And if we top that with some lack of vision about how design can build strong brands we got the overall picture rather well.

    And when this lack of interest and knowledge is putting a lot of unattractive products on the market it is not strange why people wonder what design is really about. We actually live in a world full of bad products and bad design.

    I was holding a lecture the other day at the Malmö University with a course called Practical Creativity were I tried to work with the students according to my believes. The design process is in some sense a mechanical procedure. You have to make everything in the correct order according to a defined scheme. The true differentiator of the design process is the design brief. You have to solve problems, deliver to a demand or create new possibilities. You have to add magic and relevance. Your products have to have cultural relevance and they have to evoke meaning.

    Bruce Nussbaum from BusinessWeek puts it like this:

    "The truth is that the backlash is against the fad of innovation, not the fact of it. Th...

  • Design is often mistaken as decoration

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design

    I was looking at a dumb TV commercial yesterday about a waffle iron that was described as “designed”. Isn’t all waffle irons designed? It is probably a quite complex process to develop and produce a waffle iron and without design it is complete impossible. In this commercial the epithet design was mistaken for some shallow decoration. The producer of the product was probably trying to describe it as “hip”, “exclusive” or “modern looking”.

    Design is probably one of the most misused words today. Unfortunately it happens all the time.

Creative direction, trend insights.

Contact David Carlson
David Carlson / David Report

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design