1 March 2006

Michigan Governor talks design and innovation [Business Week]

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Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm tells Corporate Design Foundation Chairman Peter Lawrence about her plan to make the state the innovation capital of the U.S.

At the very start of the interview, she outlines a user-centred vision of design:

To me, design is more customer-focused — which is exactly what it should be if you’re going to sell a product today. You’ve got to make sure that the product is designed in a way that doesn’t just work, but is really responsive to the customer.”

She then continues about the importance of creativity and design:

“The bottom line for why design is important to the State of Michigan — especially a state that has been challenged by a global economy where we see manufacturing jobs leave — is because future growth will be based more and more on the creative work that goes into making great products, or developing great cities, or even providing great customer service. We are going to base our economy more and more on our intellectual property, on the creative side, the value-added side of what we can offer. We have a strong record as a producer of new products, and now we want to make sure that Michigan’s brand image is all about innovation, design and creativity.”

Michigan by the way is not only the heart of the American automotive industry, but also the home of innovative office furniture companies like Steelcase and Herman Miller.

Coincidentally or not, just a few days ago I was at a talk organised by Domus Magazine where the president of my own region Piedmont (a region with a rich automotive tradition as well) talked about the importance of design. In describing the challenges and opportunities in post-Olympic Torino, Mercedes Bresso (also a woman) underlined the crucial importance of the nomination of Turin as the first World Capital of Design. It might be noted that Piedmont is also the only region in Italy that has a regional councillor in charge of innovation.

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(originally published in the @Issue Journal of the Corporate Design Foundation)

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