How much is design worth? Is it worth as much as is generated by the design industry? No, it isn't; design is worth much more. It is the basis of innovation, which is becoming the basis of competitiveness. How can business benefit from design?
Design as the basis of innovation
In the post-industrial reality, innovation is one of the basic elements used to create a competitive advantage. The role of design, according to the Latin meaning of the word, is to appoint, indicate and designate. Therefore, a designer is a precursor of change and a promoter of better solutions. As highlighted by contemporary specialists, change is focused mainly on users.
In the 80s and 90s it was discovered that in the age of constant change, in-depth analysis of the needs of users, current clients and potential clients is more effective than the process of creating or improving existing products or services using data collected by experts. The role of a designer is to discover the areas ‒ that either exist or may appear in the foreseeable future ‒ in which people's needs are not fulfilled, and to create solutions that will satisfy those needs.
Enterprises can apply design thinking at different stages of their business activity:
- Operational stage – when designing a product, service or communication
- Tactical stage – when designing systems and processes
- Strategic stage – when designing a mission, vision or business model
The last stage is most effective, as confirmed by research and the spectacular successes achieved by many Internet start-ups.
Along with the design thinking concept comes a tool for its implementation ‒ a method of creating design thinking innovations was invented at Stanford University in California. The characteristic stages of the method are empathising, defining the problem, generating ideas, creating prototypes and testing. The method emphasises observation, cooperation, learning, idea visualisation and prototyping, while taking the business perspective into account.
The method can be applied in the process of creating new products and services. It can be the driving force behind the changes that lead to creating a new business model. However, the method can also be used in an organisation's internal processes, by finding solutions to specific problems and engaging a great number of employees.
One example is office relocation or rearrangement – a change that managers and employees working throughout a company have to face.
‒ Our Workplace Research and Consulting Department organises design thinking workshops for the users of the offices we furnish. The aim is to come up with unique space arrangement solutions, especially for shared zones. Creative working methods and a focus on the future office users allow us to precisely adjust an office space to the needs of individual employees and the whole company, which is the basis of a good, optimal office project. By involving employees in the project, we help them indentify with the future solutions, which in turn aids in realising the change process more effectively – says Adam Krzanowski, President of Nowy Styl Group.
The Group uses the design thinking method for its own needs as well, especially when implementing new products. The design thinking workshops were held, for instance, for the interdisciplinary team that worked on the Play&Work furniture system.
Five dimensions of design in a company
The Design Council examined the influence of design on increasing the efficiency of British enterprises. The researchers distinguished five main benefits for business:
- Increase in market share – thanks to strategies based on design, the companies recorded an approx. 7% increase in market share in the trade and leisure sectors.
- Increase in turnover – 46% of the companies that used design in their strategies recorded an increase in turnover. Its value was greater than the design expenses the companies incurred.
- New products – the companies that used design created approx. 25 new products a year; 71% of them introduced at least one product to the market.
- New services – the companies that used design implemented two service types a year.
- Increase in employment – the companies that used design employed approx. 13 more people a year.
Design can be an effective employer branding tool. Research conducted by Nowy Styl Group's Workplace Research and Consulting Department shows that for 76% of jobseekers, an attractive office is a factor they take into consideration when choosing a new employer (the research involved a survey of 932 employees from different companies).
‒ An interestingly arranged office has to have the "WOW" effect on employees and visitors, which usually lasts about seven seconds. After that, space functionality becomes much more important – says Martin Howitt from Nowy Styl Group UK. ‒ An office can have a significant influence on the achievement of business aims, not only by attracting talented employees, but also by keeping them in an organisation, since 24% of employee job satisfaction depends on the workplace. The office also has a significant impact on a company's efficiency. In a badly designed office, employees waste as many as 17 days a year on activities like looking for the right place to work, finding necessary documents or trying to concentrate. That's why we spend a lot of time on designing products and arrangement solutions for our clients. Only by cooperating closely with them can we create optimal workplaces.
Can I visualise the arrangement of a new office before its realisation? Can I change the furniture system to a completely different one with a single click? Can I walk around an open space, sit comfortably in a managerial office or test the functionality of a conference hall? Yes, of course! With the #OfficeVR application all this is possible. Next week during Clerkenwell Design Week we will show it at our London showroom.
We have applied virtual reality (VR) technology to help clients become familiarised with their office interior solutions in an easy and pleasurable way.
– We currently have 29 showrooms located in the biggest European cities, from London, through Paris, Berlin and Warsaw to Moscow. However, their limited area doesn't allow us to present the whole scale of possibilities we offer – says Martin Howitt from Nowy Styl Group UK.
In a traditional office we can usually see only single products and workstations. In a virtual office we can not only see them, but also experience a space that is arranged according to the latest methodologies, divided into functional zones and furnished with different products from the newest furniture systems. The #OfficeVR application provides visitors with an incredible feeling of being in a real office, allowing them to see the real distance, height and dimensions of spaces.
In the #OfficeVR, which will be presented in London, visitors will be able to experience one floor of a virtual office block with a managerial office, open space, conference room, lobby and canteen. When walking around the interiors, they will have a chance to compare different furniture systems (Levitate, Play&Work, and SQart) and their arrangements. They will also be able to change furniture arrangements, products and their colours in real time.
‒ We presented the application for the first time at the ORGATEC fair in Cologne in October 2016, and all the users were hugely impressed. Some of the visitors looked below a desk or lay down on a carpet and were surprised that they were able to see our products from different perspectives. There was often someone trying to touch the furniture, which was of course impossible, but proved that our virtual office made a very realistic impression – says Martin Howitt.
Visitors at the Clerkenwell Design Week are now invited to try this application. The virtual office will be available from 23 to 25 May in Nowy Styl Group's showroom located in Clerkenwell Close.
Please reserve your place for our #OfficeVR in advance at www.calendly.com/officevr
Unit 112, 27 – 31 Clerkenwell Workshops, Farringdon, London
Tel: +44 (0)20 3176 5230
Nowy Styl Group was one of the five award-winning Polish companies that make investments abroad. The jury justified their opinion in the following way: "the award for brave and well-thought-out acquisitions in Europe." The award was received by Adam Krzanowski, President of Nowy Styl Group's Management Board.
‒ A few years ago we decided to concentrate our development on key markets in Western Europe and Middle East. In order to speed up this process, we chose the path of development through making acquisitions of financially healthy foreign companies. Gaining shares by purchasing brands and companies that had well-established positions in the markets has allowed us to increase our sales dynamically and adjust our company to the local character of the markets – explains Adam Krzanowski.
The strategy resulted in the following transactions:
‒ 2011 ‒ we acquired the first German company and included into our portfolio the well-known Grammer Office brand that manufactures ergonomically advanced office armchairs,
‒ 2013 ‒ we made an acquisition of the German company Rohde & Grahl that holds significant shares in the German and Dutch markets,
‒ 2014 ‒ we purchased 50% of the shares belonging to the Turkish production & distribution company TCC – The Chair Company that has a well-established position in the dynamically developing Turkish market,
‒ 2015 ‒ we joined to the Group the Swiss company ‒ SITAG AG that operates dynamically in the Swiss, German and Austrian markets (products manufactured by the brand are not sold in the Polish market).
Currently, 81% of the Group's revenues come from foreign markets.
Camira is our main supplier of fabrics that we use to upholster chair seats and backrests, armchairs, softseating systems and acoustic panels. It is one of the industry's leading companies. It manufactures all fabrics in its own factories located in Great Britain and Lithuania.
- We have been cooperating with Camira for over 20 years now. We value the company for high quality of the supplied materials, well-organised logistics and continuous openness to further development – says Maria Lasek, Purchasing Department Director at Nowy Styl Group. – Camira's employees are excellent experts who help us design modern and beautiful products that are nice-to-the-touch and durable – she concludes.
Using the fabrics supplied by Camira, we create more eco-friendly products. The Synergy and Blazer fabrics are made of wool ("Wools of New Zealand") that guarantees sustainable sheep breeding. Natural farming, recycling and upcycling of materials, as well as energy-efficient production – these are the initiatives for which Camira has received the Queen's Award for Sustainable Development given by Elizabeth II.
Hettich is a German expert in furniture technology. The stop-control-plus system, which ensures drawers in our cabinets and pedestals can be pulled out safely and closed quietly, is one of the furniture elements we are provided with by Hettich.
- We treat Hettich as a partner – we know that the company listens to our needs carefully and provides us with specific solutions, however it also often offers our company innovative mechanisms that improve the quality of our products. Great utility values of the fittings, on-time deliveries and comprehensive technical support ‒ these are the reasons why we have been cooperating with Hettich for more than 10 years now – claims Maria Lasek.
Hettich also belongs to the companies that manage their influence on the local community and the natural environment. The waste recycling indicator amounting to 97% or the energy-saving building in Kirchlengern, where the company's headquarters is located, proves that Hettich is successful in its sustainable development activities.