Bryan Taylor

Drawn U | Interdisciplinary Design

I often have a hard time describing our work at Drawn. We call ourselves a design agency, a branding agency, a consultancy, an ad agency, a creative workshop; it just depends on the context. As the definition of "design" has expanded well beyond the walls of visual design — experience design, service design, business design — we continually adjust our description of Drawn so that it’s relevant to the current conversation.

Our industry vocabulary can sometimes make things even more confusing, and that is largely because the discipline of design has been expanding. It is now appreciated as a way of thinking and an approach to problem-solving, and it still applies to the art of communicating ideas/products/opportunities to others, as well. 

I recently wrote an article on the role that Drawn plays as a tutor to large companies who are implementing the textbook design thinking systems laid out by others. I have also written about how some companies who are implementing design thinking seem as though they have book smarts, but little actual street smarts. I am continually finding that while we (as a culture) finally seem to be appreciating the philosophy of design in a broader sense, it is still very new and hasn't quite begun to naturally align with our ways of doing business.

Design thinking’s full value is realized when the techniques that we learn truly soak in — deeply enough to be understood at a philosophical level, where we can react instinctively rather than mechanically. When we become truly interdisciplinary thinkers, or inter-departmental thinkers, we can really experience the benefits of design thinking.

Establishing empathy, rapid prototyping, iterative development and testing — these all require me to understand not just the outcome that I've been tasked with developing, but also the business implications, the whole impact on the supply chain, the continual support that my product will require, and how to communicate all of this to customers in a way that will match a customer’s full experience. And when all of this becomes second nature, then we will experience the full benefits of good design.