In this recent talk at the RCA in London, writer and academic Jeremy Myerson explores how social challenges can catalyse design-led innovation in industry. Rather than seeing such issues as ageing populations, growing healthcare needs or climate change as a problem or a crisis, designers can reframe social challenges as creative opportunities for change.
Myerson draws on commissioned projects from his recent New Old exhibition on design for our future selves at the Design Museum to support his case, and references the Danish design thinker Jens Bernsen who said that ‘a good problem is a gift’. He argues that in reaping a design dividend from social challenges, designers should replace abstraction and scaling up – two of the dominant characteristics of late 20th century design – with a new, more human approach based on specificity and scaling down.
Jeremy Myerson is the first-ever holder of the Helen Hamlyn Chair of Design, with a remit to encourage ‘design that improves quality of life’. An academic, author and activist in design for more than 35 years, he began his working life as a journalist and was founder-editor of Design Week in 1986. He co-founded the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA in 1999, and his research interests focus on the role of design in social, demographic and technological change. He was Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design from 1999 to October 2015. A graduate of the RCA, Jeremy Myerson is the author of many books, chapters, papers and articles on people-centred and inclusive design. He is also director of the WORKTECH Academy and a visiting fellow at the Oxford Institute for Population Ageing and sits on the advisory boards of design institutes in Hong Kong, Switzerland and Korea.