Editorial - Journal of Design, Business & Society
It is an exciting time for Design and Architecture here at Intellect. With the launch of the Journal of Design, Business & Society we are exploring new areas. Below is editor-in-chief Gjoko Muratovski's editorial from issue 1.1. Read more about the journal.
Gjoko Muratovski
The Death Spiral in Design
There is a phenomenon in nature called the ‘circular mill’ (Beebe, 1921, pp. 291–94). This phenomenon occurs when a group of army ants (foragers) are separated from the main swarm column. After a period of disorder the separated group randomly picks up a pheromonal scent that they follow, unaware that the scent is coming from themselves rather than from the main colony. Soon after, they end up running around in a densely packed circle, following each other, until they all die from exhaustion. This phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘death spiral’ (Schneirla, 1971, p. 349; Delsuc, 2003, p. 155). The death spiral has been used as a metaphor in such contexts as digital culture (Tanner, 2013), finance (Baldwin, 2012) and even insurance (Cutler and Zeckhauser, 1998). Designers are no exception when it comes to this type of behaviour. When designers choose to focus on themselves rather than on the community they should be serving, they enter the death spiral.
Even though design is part of a broader sociocultural and economic process, and nothing neither starts nor ends with design (Muratovski, 2007, pp. 20–21), design practitioners and design academics alike often choose
to operate within their own circles of likeminded individuals. For design practitioners, the death spiral begins when they start looking to other designers as their sole source of inspiration and for validation. When this happens, designers’ understanding of their primary audience changes. They no longer see design in the context of providing a service to others; instead, they start designing for themselves. In doing so they become ‘authors’ of designs that serve no other purpose than that of fulfilling their own need for self-expression (see Rock, 1996). For design academics, the death spiral begins when they refer to knowledge that can only be found within the field of design. In doing so they are forgetting that design is a relatively young academic discipline and that a handful of design theorists do not hold the answers to all questions. When academics choose to look only to others like them for references and acknowledgement, they risk ending up developing theories with no real benefit to anyone, including the discipline of design itself. Instead, they need to be open to new insights from areas that go beyond design, and should try integrating these into the design process (see Zimmerman, 2003). This is how the discipline of design can continue to evolve and expand, and designers can make a meaningful contribution to the world around them.
In the real world, we do not measure designers by awards or scholarly articles. This may add to the level of prestige a designer commands within his own community, but this often means little in practice. In the real world designers are measured by the types of clients they serve or the social contributions they make. In this context there is little need for exclusiveness. This is because effective designers work at the intersection of many fields, engaging with a wide range of stakeholders. They are rarely in a position to act as their own clients. In fact, they often work on projects with which they may never come in contact with as end users. Regardless of this, designers are expected to know a great deal about the people that will be using their work. Designers are rarely asked to manufacture their own designs or to deliver the services they have been developing. Nevertheless, they must demonstrate an understanding of material properties, production processes or the logistics behind service delivery. This means that designers must be willing to develop new knowledge and to constantly challenge and broaden the idea of design. Good design is a collaborative process. In this process, designers must work with many people with diverse backgrounds and expertise.
That is why the Journal of Design, Business & Society was envisioned as a transdisciplinary platform from the very beginning. This is a journal that will publish research on the role of design in business or society, or articles that examine design while coming from researchers in other fields. This is the reason why our editorial and advisory boards are comprised of international experts from a broad range of areas such as design innovation, design thinking, service design, sustainable design, communication design, fashion design, industrial design, engineering design, digital media, design theory and history, architecture, media studies, branding, business management, marketing, economics, cognitive science and psychology, creative industries, advanced manufacturing and more. In line with this editorial concept, the articles in this issue will cover highly diverse topics, presented from a range of perspectives.
The first article will introduce you to a design-led approach used in crime prevention. This project that has been developed by the Copenhagen-based research advisory firm INITATIVES on behalf of the Danish Police. This article is written by Rex and Stine Degnegaard from INITATIVES in collaboration with Peter Coughlan from the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. Rex Degneegard, until recently a researcher at the Copenhagen Business School, co-founded INITATIVES together with his partner Stine. Stine Degneegard is also a Ph.D. Fellow at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and Global Ambassador of the Stanford d.School. Peter Coughlan is a design veteran with fifteen-years of experience working for IDEO prior to his involvement with the Bainbridge Graduate
Institute - an American institute for graduate studies in sustainable business.
Next we have an article by Andreas Benker from the Aalto University School of Business. Benker’s article focuses on healthcare. In his study, Benker examines the design process behind developing complex medical devices. In the article he provides an advice to medical device manufacturers on how to improve the marketability of their products and how to develop better usercentred designs.
The third article is by Emily Ballantyne-Brodie who spends her time between the School of Design at the Queensland University of Technology and the School of Design at Politecnico di Milan. This article examines how design-led innovation can enable business models for local food systems, with a particular focus on a community project established in Melbourne, Australia. This article is co-written with Cara Wrigley and Rebecca Ramsey from the Queensland University of Technology.
Following this we have a study by Aoi Tanaka, Cathy Nguyen and Jenni Romaniuk on the strengths and weaknesses of using celebrities as design and branding elements in advertising. Tanaka, Nguyen and Romaniuk are from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science. This is a high impact industry focused research institute based at the University of South Australia. The institute provides marketing research services to leading international businesses and organizations such as Coca-Cola, Google, P&G, Turner Media, MasterCard and Unilever.
The fifth article is by Gerard Healey from the global design and engineering consultancy Arup, which became famous in its field for a string of iconic projects such as the Sydney Opera House and Centre Pompidou in
Paris. Most recently, Arup was brought into the spotlight again with a range of projects associated with the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In his article, Healey presents a new business case for sustainable building initiatives. In doing so, he draws on principles found in behavioural economics, judgment and decision-making, green buildings and sustainability communication, as well as on his own extensive experience as an engineer and sustainable building
practitioner with Arup.
Søren Ingomar Petersen, the Chief Executive Officer of the design consultancy Ingomar & Ingomar, has developed the final article in this issue. Petersen, who holds a doctorate from Stanford University is an engineer, automotive designers, and design researcher. He has experience working on projects for BMW, Williams Formula 1, Rolls Royce and CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Petersen currently uses his extensive industry experience to provide design research services to clients such as Stanford University, Copenhagen Business School and Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In this article he examines the role of gamification in concept design for the purposes of enhancing innovation and performance. The article is co-written with Hokyoung Blake Ryu from Hanyang University in Korea.
This is our first issue – we are delighted to bring it to you. We hope that you will enjoy reading these articles as much as we have done.
Baldwin, W., 2012. Do you live in a death spiral state? Forbes, [online] Available at: < spiral-state/> [Accessed 8 December 2014].
Beebe, W., 1921. Edge of the Jungle. New York: Henry Holt & Co.
Cutler, D. M. and Zeckhauser, R. J., 1998. Adverse selection in health insurance. Forum for Health Economics & Policy, 1(1), [online] Available at:
<> [Accessed 8 December 2014].
Delsuc, F., 2003. Army ants trapped by their evolutionary history. PLoS Biology, 1(2), pp. 155–156.
Muratovski, G., 2007. Beyond design. Skopje: NAM.
Rock, M., 1996. The designer as author. Eye Magazine, Spring, [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 18 December 2014].
Schneirla, T. C., 1971. Army Ants: A Study in Social Organization. San Francisco:
W. H. Freeman & Co.
Tanner, S., 2013. Avoiding the digital death spiral: surviving and thriving through understanding the value and impact of digital culture. In National Digital Forum (NDF) Conference, 25–26 November. Wellington, New Zealand.

Zimmerman, E., 2003. Creating a culture of design research. In: B. Laurel, ed. Design research: methods and perspective. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 185–192. 

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