Design Process Three Ways

By Salla Kuuluvainen

I participated in Dash Design – an event that was preparation for Europe’s largest hackathon DASH.
In Dash Design we heard from three companies and their take on design process: Smartly.io, Pentagon Design and Iittala.

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What became quite clear at the event was that the design process can look very different and still be creative, effective and produce great results. At Smartly.io, the process is very well defined and clear structures exist. Same could be said about Pentagon Design, who brought an example of rebranding licorice for Fazer. At Iittala, there was no structured process, instead the new designs were created with a much looser approach of experimentation.

Designing with Clear Roadmaps at Smartly

Smartly.io helps companies with automatized online marketing solutions. It’s a fast paced tech company that prides in innovating fast. Smartly has a very clearly defined roadmap for product development, with a clever side process for more experimental innovation. All solutions are created close to the customer and tested internally and externally.

3 takeaways from Smartly

• Everyone at the company is involved in the design process, not just designers.
• Rapid prototyping and early release of new features is crucial.
• It’s important to work very close to the customer.

Deep Diving with Pentagon Design

Pentagon Design is a consultancy that helped a very well known, old Finnish company Fazer in rebranding some of their most classic licorice products very successfully towards a more premium category product. Pentagon Design used a very thought through approach that was based on the Double Diamond and included lots of testing with customers and feedback, and for example a process called Deep Dive that investigated the environments and user and even employee perspectives of the products in thorough manner.

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An example of Pentagon Design’s analytical approach to design process

3 takeaways from Pentagon Design

• For a design agency, it’s good to have a strong, tried out framework for the design process, which can even be adapted to the client company’s own processes.
• It’s important to let the customers in the design process from early phases to get the right feedback.
• The design team should have the right mixture of competences.

Experimenting at Iittala

Iittala is known for every Finn, it is a very traditional interior design brand. Jeremiah Teslin from Iittala talked about the different approaches he had used when rebranding and redesigning some of Iittala’s established product categories.

Personally for me it was interesting how much Teslin talked about needing to convince the organization to support the new designs, and how he used visual rebranding, creation of attractive images of the new products and setting up spaces to showcase the products as well as organized different kinds of internal innovation events to create engagement in the company for the new products. So in a way the design process for him was much more about change management than just about coming up with new products.

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An example of visualization of products

3 takeaways from Iittala

• Work with the right people.
• Make the ideas visible and tangible for the whole company.
• Facilitate behavior change with design: We don’t need new mugs, instead we need better coffee moments.

Generally what all of these three companies had was passion and awareness for the process of design, even if they worked in quite different areas and with different kinds of tools and methods. That enthusiasm is also my main takeaway from the event!

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