2015Twelve essential GDA perspectives on design trends

Seeing new potential for design, through the "Focused Issues"

Kazufumi Nagai
Vice Chairman
Fumie Shibata

As society, industry, and everyday life in Japan continue to change, design should drive progress by revealing what the future may hold and motivating us to work toward it. We therefore evaluated entries this year mindful of design’s roles today and the ways it can shape society tomorrow.

The groundwork for the discipline of design as a means to improve life for the average person was laid nearly a century ago. Since then, design has gained precision, serving increasingly specific purposes and becoming more refined. But social issues and needs have also grown more complex, and as a force synonymous with solutions and innova-tion, design is called on to respond to these issues in compelling ways. Accordingly, we have seen more examples of substantial design work that delves into issues by exam-ining what and how we think About things. Environmental, educational, and commu-nity issues seem to call out for expert design as never before, which shows our greater expectations of design in these changing times.

A primary role of design that should never change is how, by introducing an elegant solution, design elevates everyday experience or aptly conveys new technologies that encourage sound industrial growth. But to encourage expert design in social issues and needs, we must recognize the power of turning a designer’s eye to all kinds of events and situations around us.

This involves nurturing design work that holds new possibilities and distinct potential, though it may still be at a formative stage. It also compels us to view pervasive social issues as opportunities for good design, though this perspective may be new. Toward this end, we must apply the thinking, perspectives, and approaches used in design more broadly in society, linking them with subject-specific expertise or activities in order to promote positive changes.

It is this thinking that informs the 12 Focused Issues introduced this year, through which the program represents a platform for articulating the shape that society and everyday life should take in the future. Each of us individually and society at large must respond to these Focused Issues, which present various problems to solve and areas where good design will no doubt be essential. They provide a context to discern specific spheres of design today and explore the fuller potential of design tomorrow. By con-veying our findings as messages, we hope to give momentum to this kind of design work.

Insightful and inspiring essays on Focused Issues were written by 12 leaders in related fields, who assess the current and future relevance of a variety of winning entries. Here, we find ways that good design – whether in the form of hardware, software, or something else – responds to the Focused Issues, and some considerations to keep in mind.

The Focused Issues afford an opportunity to share with the public the potential of good design, and a chance to advance the cause of design itself in society.

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Focused Issues