Geke and Bas have been in Brazil for a few weeks, traveling across the country visiting friends at our partner company Feel the Future and elsewhere. The vibe in Brazil is different from Europe we feel, in that there is a clear understanding here that the economy needs innovation to spur its growth, and that design has to play a vital role in that growth. In Europe we are more focused on repair at the moment it seems which makes the mood a bit defensive. Companies like Feel The Future, our Brazilian Reach partner, but also architectural practices we visited, show there is a real understanding that design can do much more than just make things. It can help change things by playing a strategic role in innovation.
Brazil seems to be at a tipping point regarding the role design plays in society and the economy. There is a real understanding that it makes a lot of sense to bring different disciplines, such as business people, engineers, marketers, social researchers, architecture and all kinds of designers, together to spur innovation. But at the same time there is not a real understanding nor practical experience of how they would collaborate and make innovation happen. This is where Design Thinking and Service Design come in, and companies like Feel The Future can make a real difference by simply doing these things with brave clients who want to experiment with new ways of working. Good luck to them!
Tonight we will be speaking at N2010 in Curitiba where 5000 (!) design students from all over Brazil have gathered to workshop, discuss and celebrate design as a tool to move their society and economy forward. This is an impressive initiative from students themselves, that we would love to see happen in Europe too. Super-friendly as the Brazilians we meet are, they immediately offered to help if Europeans would take such an initiative. Any students who want to take them up on that offer?