In the digital age, good design doesn’t just result in objects: It results in new relationships.
In 1969, Hartmut Esslinger founded the global design and strategy firm now known as frog, and in so doing rebuffed the dominant (and sterile) design mantra of the day that form follows function. In his mind, form follows emotion, and as frog works more and more frequently to design spaces and systems, not just objects, the approach holds true.
“Design used to be about making a thing,” explains Turi McKinley, executive director of frogCamp, the firm’s thought-leadership initiative. “Today, for us, design is about making and shaping experiences and relationships.” But in order to make those experiences and relationships meaningful — “to design for an emotional connection,” as McKinley puts it—designers must first understand the people for whom they are designing.
“It’s kind of remarkable how many companies don’t really know what happens with their product once it leaves the store—what the customers are ultimately doing with their product or service in the context of where it’s being used,” says Tjeerd Hoek, vice president of creative for frog, whose clients range from telecom companies and financial institutions to large retailers and home appliance conglomerates. “For us, it’s super important to go out and meet users, whoever they may be, to bring that user perspective into the design process.” He pauses. “Whenever we say that, it sounds so logical.”