How Today's Most Innovative Companies Are Reshaping Design

Design is one of the most important marketing issues of the digital age. And it’s all being driven by effortlessly functional technology. Businesses and entrepreneurs have noticed a trend over the last couple of years. Before the app revolution, the major area where companies competed was on function. Back then, it is hard to get software to do what you wanted. The challenges were technical, and many companies simply didn’t have the resources. Today, however, things are different. In the post app world, there’s an app for nearly everything in business. Entrepreneurs have filled practically every niche application you can imagine. There are more than 2 million apps on the Apple Store.

This has meant that there’s been a resurgence in the importance of design. We’ve come full circle. And now we’re back to good old-fashioned aesthetics to sell products. So what have innovators in the space been doing over the last few years?

Ikea

Ikea is the Swedish brand that brought flat pack furniture into our lives. But, in many ways, Ikea has lost that competitive niche. Now anybody can go online and choose from dozens of flat pack furniture suppliers to get what they want. So how has Idea chosen to compete? Well, it still focuses on what it does best: cheap furniture, delivered. But it’s now investing a huge amount in design and presentation. Right now the company is launching a range of designer collaborations designed to boost its appeal. The idea is to avoid the pitfalls of failed businesses like MFI, and charm customers with something beautiful.

How Today's Most Innovative Companies Are Reshaping Design

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Their Regissor series of furniture is a good example of this thinking in action. The series includes bookshelves and cabinets that are attractive in their own way. And, importantly, they’re also quick and easy to put together.

Ikea is also thinking of new ways to use social media and mobile to keep their 770 million customers interested. In Singapore, the company installed life-size cardboard cut-outs of homeless animals in its stores. Customers could use their phones to scan a QR code to find out more about the animals. And if they were really interested, they could apply to adopt them.

Bosch

Bosch is German consumer goods firm, producing everything from washing machines to electronics. But recently, they’ve had to rethink the way that they tool their workshops and factories. It turns out that the pace of change in some markets mean that it’s incredibly costly for them to keep up. Every couple of years or so, they have to completely re-tool. And this dramatically affects their bottom line.

How Today's Most Innovative Companies Are Reshaping Design

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Bosch decided it had had enough of constant retooling and testing dozens of off-the-shelf solutions. Instead, it has chosen to make use of Zortrax 3D printers to print out the parts it needs. The big benefit to the company has been the fact that it can now design and fabricate its own equipment. Theoretically, that means that it can design its processes from the ground up for maximum efficiency.

30 Weeks

30 Weeks is a company that runs 30-week courses on design.

At the moment the company is based in Manhattan, New York. And it acts as a hub for four of the biggest and best New York design schools, as well as Google. The idea behind the program is to take a student and give them the skills to make a viable business. Students must come to the course wanting to be a professional designer in the future and with a product in mind. The curriculum then helps them turn their dream into a reality. Throughout the course, successful entrepreneurs and CEOs make cameo appearances. And the program also takes students through real-life scenarios in business. That includes things like pitching to investors and how to approach different audiences. What makes 30 Weeks different is that it is a hands-on course that emphasizes real world experiences. As a result, it’s reshaping the way we think about design education.

Code And Theory

Code and Theory markets itself as a one-stop shop for companies looking to improve their websites. The company offers other businesses a range of toolkits they can use to improve their sites and user experience. As a result, they’ve helped teach some old dogs new tricks.

Vogue, Bloomberg, and Cosmopolitan are all long time stalwarts of the print media. But these companies have sometimes struggled to make headway in the online space. Now they’ve all started using Code and Theory’s products. And they have experienced a degree of success. Of course, it all come down to traffic. But since the Vogue website redesign, numbers have increased by 600 percent.

Herman Miller

Once upon a time Herman Miller was an office design outfit. It wasn’t a particularly exciting company. But it was successful in what it did.

How Today's Most Innovative Companies Are Reshaping Design

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As time passed, the company soon realized that it would have more opportunities if it diversified. It decided that it needed to do something similar to what Ikea has done and brought in fresh design talent. It settled on working with Design Within Reach. Design Within Reach is a company with an impressive list of clients. But back in 2009, it got into trouble after a series of copyright disputes. For a while, the company wasn’t profitable. But it has since bounced back. And now it provides Herman Miller with fresh design inspiration. As a result, Herman Miller has gone from being an office furniture supplier to a lifestyle brand.

Gumroad

Today, it’s easier than ever to sell physical objects online. There are tons of sites, from eBay to Etsy that will fulfill your needs. But what if what you have to sell isn’t physical? What if you’re an artist who wants to sell their music? Then where do you go?

The idea behind Gumroad is to provide a platform for people who want to sell things that aren’t physical. It’s designed for people selling music, apps, PDFs and anything else ethereal. Right now, it’s home to some 10,000 sellers. And it seems to be doing a lot to make their lives easier and better.