Perceived value of Design

The challenge was to address the need to measure the socioeconomic impact of design and the role of design alongside other intangible assets in value creation identified by the European Commission. Ideas such as “good design always creates good value” and “design adds value” support the proposition that design impacts society and contributes to the economy but do not provide reliable and evidence-based tools to demonstrate that fact.

Scientific objective of the postdoctoral study was to develop identification system capable to measure design’s socioeconomic impact and assess design innovation capacity towards knowledge intensive innovation economy.

Research questions were:

  • Are there common indicators that define design added value?

  • Are there differences in perceived design value among generations and socioeconomic class groups?

  • Is it possible to define a coherent and universal identification system of design’s socioeconomic impact?

The research started with extensive design theory data collection and analysis. Not finding what I was looking for in existing design theory, I searched across several disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology and business and innovation management, and I collected valuable inputs as a multi-disciplinary approach. This philosophical view created a background for multiple phases of data collection and analysis, starting with the extract, transform, load procedure and moving to the research data collection and use of mixed methods and MAXQDA qualitative data analysis software in a multi-phase data analysis and validation process.

In define phase, a context and theoretical qualitative information of design identified a shift in the design process from a four-step double diamond funnel design development to a three-step agility-led design process. Creative and intuitive research sense was the key to conducting experimental, open- and closed-ended questions for online qualitative and mixed-methods interviews with 48 questions that were conducted with 250 respondents during March–September 2019, of which 202 were analyzed in September 2019–June 2020. All data from the experimental qualitative and mixed-method online interviews were analyzed as a cross-sectional analysis according to respondent categorization in generations and socioeconomic class groups.

The results of the user perception analysis on how design adds value as design socioeconomic impact were drawn to design an identification system, and they were proposed as perceived design value indicators. To generate an identification system as a method towards a knowledge-intensive economy, a triple design process and self-assessment design maturity matrix were proposed.

By indicating the impact of the perceived value of design, this study demonstrated aspects to be considered in product and service innovation processes. User perceptions as perceived design value indicators are formed by subjective values, as satisfaction with products and services through epistemic, emotional, social, conditional, and functional values, thus giving weight to the saying that design adds value from the user’s perspective, based on the diamond–water paradox as the “value in use” and “value in exchange”, and clarify the term “design adds value” from the user perspective. As such, design adds value conditionally and subjectively.

Editorial design Matīss Zvaigzne, studio Reflect