Changing the Rules of Competition by
Radically Innovating What Things Mean


How to create innovations that customers do not expect, but that they eventually love? How to create products and services, that are so distinct from those that dominate the market and so inevitable that make people passionate?

Design-Driven Innovation unveils how leaders such as Apple, Nintendo, Alessi, Whole Foods Market build an unbeatable and sustainable competitive advantage through innovations that do not come from the market but that create new markets. These leaders compete through products and services that have a radical new meaning: those that convey a completely new reason for customers to buy them. The cases, data and stories in the book show how to create this new vision and how to successfully propose it to customers. A strategy and a process that leverage the rich and multifaceted network of a firm outsiders, looking beyond customers to those "interpreters"– such as scientists, customers, suppliers, intermediaries, designers, artists - who deeply understand and shape the markets they work in.

“Market? What market!
We do not look at market needs.
We make proposals to people …”

Ernesto Gismondi
Chairman, Artemide



How should a company devise new meanings and create the designs to embody them? Mr. Verganti suggests that companies form relationships with "interpreters"—individuals and organizations looking at settings similar to the one in which the company's products would be used. For Mr. Verganti, it might be said, if life imitates art, corporate life should imitate the making of art.

The Wall Street Journal

One of the Design Primers for Businesspeople. Eschewing the received wisdom that the customer is always right, Politecnico di Milano professor Verganti focuses on game-changing designs that up-end expectations and create entirely new markets... Verganti also includes a useful section on how executives can attempt to instigate their own programs of radical innovation. One of the Best Innovation and Design Books of 2009.


The analysis presented by Roberto Verganti is fascinating and will stimulate all readers, from students to businessmen alike. Innovation allows  the success of any activity. This is particularly true for business and, even more so, in the challenging times we are living in. This passionate and accurate study will offer valuable information and a fundamental reference for all those interested in design and determined to pursue innovation as a driving factor in their profession.

Luca di Montezemolo
Chairman FIAT and Ferrari

Verganti shares powerful insights into both the process and value of design-driven innovation, to the benefit of business leaders and, ultimately, the customers we serve.

Brian C. Walker
President and CEO, Herman Miller Inc.

Every manager interested in innovation should read this book.  Design Driven Innovation is an important book, and the perspectives it provides will make a crucial difference to managers in the 21st century.

Marco Iansiti
David Sarnoff Professor of Business Administration Harvard Business School

Can design save the world? No, but it can definitely help make it better, especially if integrated within the systems that already have direct impact on the economy and on policy-making. Roberto Verganti belongs to a small group of enthusiastic experts and interpreters that have set out to explain the culture of design to the powerful but unaware, so that they can appreciate its full potential.

Paola Antonelli
Senior Curator, Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art, New York

If you follow Mr. Verganti’s advice, it may take a while, but your competition will be left wondering how it was you managed to redefine (and capture) their business.

San Francisco Book Review

Verganti … tells how design innovators add “unsolicited meaning” that consumers don’t even know they’re craving – and they create products people can’t live without.


Roberto Verganti’s book has the merit to clarify how the capability to create meaning is at the core of innovation, nowadays.

Luca De Biase
Editorialist, IlSole24Ore

One of the best books of the year is undoubtedly “Design-Driven Innovation”. In it Verganti attacks one of the central mysteries of innovation–how can a company successfully create a product that is a radical break from the past, and which shows the way to a new future?

John Caddell on The Customer Collective

Consumption-driven wealth and status are being replaced by identity, belonging, and a strong desire to contribute and do something “meaningful” rather than just acquire things. Roberto Verganti, in his new book, Design-Driven Innovation, argues that there is a “Third Way of Innovation,” driven by meaning, or to be more precise, by those cultural “interpreters” who have the ability to “make sense of things” and give existing things new meaning — and thus create new markets.

Design Mind