Book review: DESIGN IS HOW IT WORKS: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons
Posted by Sebastian on Aug 24, 2010
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"It is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works" - Steve Jobs, Apple.

The quote by Steve Jobs is the essence, and partially the title, of a new book by former BusinesWeek reporter Jay Greene.

In a first-person narrative style Jay Greene tells the story of 8 design-led companies and how they have managed to create successful and iconic products by integrating 'Design Thinking' in their DNA. The book is based on case-studies of giants such as Nike and LEGO as well newish start-ups CLIF bar and Ace Hotel.

The concept of Design Thinking is, roughly, the art of understanding your users/customers and to translate their needs into new meaningful and desirable solutions, be it a product, a service or a system. It is a problem-solving and human-centered approach and two Danish companies Bang & Olufsen and LEGO are used as examples of the trouble established companies can run into if they lose sight of their customers in a constantly changing global market. While LEGO has since managed to re-emerge by reevaluating its design process, Bang & Olufsen have been slow to react and is still struggling. Jay Greene argues that in today's competitive market brand may be 'important' but design is 'crucial'.

If you are already familiar with the basic concepts of 'Design Thinking', DESIGN IS HOW IT WORKS may not offer any new perspectives, but if you think design is a field only concerned with style and form, this book will be an eye opener. For further reading, don't miss Tim Brown's recent book Change by Design | Design is How it Works 2005-2015 - Powered by Movable Type 3.31.