Artworks

You will not find photos of products in the book. In fact, “Design-Driven Innovation” is everything but a book on the form of products. Rather, it is about meanings and management.

I was wondering however how to introduce the reader to some of the examples and cases which are less known to the mainstream business press, especially those of the Italian manufacturers. I therefore asked a young architect-artist, Daniele Barillari, to help me visualize some of the proposals—focusing, of course, on their meanings rather than their forms. This editorial approach is, in itself, a radical innovation of meanings. Indeed, this book is the first-ever design book without a single photo. And, indeed, I came across Daniele by pursuing the same design-driven process I describe in the book: through interpreters and mediators.

The result was so fascinating that we decided to provide readers with a colored version of the illustrations on this website.  You are free to download them. We only ask you to keep reference to the book and to the illustrator in case you use them or diffuse them.

Below you will find the illustration according to each chapter they refer to, together with their captions. An important note: The illustrations depict only a small fraction of the cases discussed in the book. As you can see in the table provided in the book section, the variety of data and analyses in the book is so broad as to show that design-driven innovation is a suitable strategy for every firm, whether large or small, and whether it offers products or services, addresses consumer or business markets, and makes durable or fast-moving goods.

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Letter to the Reader


A marketing manager for Apple described its market research as consisting of “Steve looking in the mirror every morning and asking himself what he wanted.” That is the mirror of an executive’s personal culture. Culture is one of the most precious gifts of humanity. Everyone has it. You should be not afraid of that mirror but, rather, leverage it, and see there things that others do not.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION Apple’s MacBook Air.]

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1. Design-Driven Innovation
An introduction

With Metamorfosi, Artemide had completely overturned the reason why people would buy a lamp. Not another beautiful lamp, but a light that makes you feel better. It had radically changed its meaning.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION On the table: Artemide’s Yang lamp (of the Metamorfosi family); in the painting: Artemide’s Tizio “task luminaire.”]

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2. Design and Meanings
Innovating by making sense of things

Every product has a meaning. Yet many companies do not care about how to innovate meanings. They strive to understand how people currently give meaning to things—only to discover that this meaning has been suggested by an innovation designed by a competitor.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION On the wall: Kartell’s Bookworm bookshelf. The computer on the small table runs Intuit QuickBooks.]

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3. Radical Pushes
Placing design-driven innovation in the strategy of a firm

Innovation of meanings, like innovation of technologies, may also be radical. And radical innovation of meanings is rarely pulled by users but is instead proposed by firms.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION In the woman’s hand: Alessi’s “Anna G.” corkscrew from the Family Follows Fiction product family.]

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4. Technology Epiphanies
The interplay between technology-push and design-driven innovation

Radical innovation of technologies and radical innovation of meanings are closely entangled. Every technology embeds many meanings, some of which are potentially disruptive, although they are not visible at first.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION Nintendo Wii.]

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5. The Value and the Challenges
Why companies do or do not invest in design-driven innovation

It was a “car in sneakers.” You buy sneakers not because they are cheaper, but because you want them.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION Fiat’s Panda.]

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6. The Interpreters
Doing research with the design discourse

Mondrian and the scientists at the corporation were pursuing the same type of activity: exploring new possibilities, recombining others’ findings, experimenting, identifying promising results, sharing them with others, exploiting their discoveries. In other words: research.

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7. Listening
Finding and attracting key interpreters

The collective of Memphis was engaged in challenging, radical research. They provide one of the most interesting examples of how basic research on product meanings moves to applications.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION First room: the studio of Memphis’s Ettore Sottsass. On the wall: a sketch of the Carlton sideboard. Second room: A laboratory at Alessi. On the table: a prototype of the Mandarin citrus squeezer. Third room: the office of Jonathan Ive at Apple. On the table: a prototype of the iMac G3.]

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8. Interpreting
Developing your own vision


Many people think that Kettle 9093 was the result of a sparkle of creativity. Perhaps, one morning, the image of a kettle with a whistling bird popped into Michael Graves’s mind. No speculation could be further from reality. Kettle 9093 is instead the result of years of research led by Alessi.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION Alessi’s Kettle 9093.]

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9. Addressing
Leveraging the seductive power of the interpreters

Interpreters have a double nature: they not only conduct research on how people give meaning to things; they also have seductive power, as they influence the context of people’s lives.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION An Artemide Metamorfosi lamp kicked into the glowing Allianz Arena stadium in Munich, Germany.]

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10. The Design-Driven Lab
How to start

The assets that back design-driven innovation are embedded not in tools but in relationships among people. Their tacit nature makes them hardly imitable. Once you have developed a distinctive relational asset, competitors can hardly scratch your competitive position.
[IN THE ILLUSTRATION Henkel’s Fresh Surfer.]

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11. Businesspeople
The key role of top executives and their culture

These executives immerse themselves where mainstream competitors do not search. They purposely explore unexplored areas. Books on creativity love to talk about “thinking outside of the box.” These executives, rather, immerse themselves “outside of the network.”

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