Just before the Christmas break Aalto Arts hosted a workshop with the renowned Design Innovation Professor at Politecnico di Milano, Roberto Verganti. The workshop looked at how ‘innovation of meaning’ is used by designers to create products that people really want, such as the Nintendo Wii or the iPhone, bringing huge commercial success.
This subject area is particularly relevant to the T2C project as Design-Driven Materials Innovation (DDMI) is at the heart of the research methodology. Design academics from Aalto and UAL as well as materials scientists from VTT attended this workshop with the aim of feeding the ongoing discussion of how design and science can come together in the development of new materials.
A key message from the two-day event was that the real value designers can bring to the process of innovation is their ability to “understand what can be meaningful to people”; designers can change the meanings of products in line with how peoples’ lives and experiences are changing. The role of new technology in this process is to enable a “radical innovation of meaning”; designers must know about technological capabilities in order to apply the new meanings in innovative products. A big question from the event of particular importance to DDMI and T2C was: which comes first, the meaning or the technology?