AIGA Kansas City

Design week: Kansas City and the creative economy

Updated: 2014-02-19T00:27:33Z

By AIGA Kansas City

Special to The Star

Business, meet design.

Trendy doodles are not our end goal (although they can help to communicate concepts). Designers are your collaborators who simplify complex messages, bring the value of innovation, and create customer experiences. Design is an investment in innovative thinking — put design at the heart of your company and discover that great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profits.

Today, design has grown to be broader than the traditional visual emphasis. Design is a change agent that builds brands, and creates products and whole new industries. Real value can be created in companies through design management.

In her framework for bridging the gap between design and business, Brigitte Borja de Mozota proposes that there are Four Powers of Design:

1. Design as differentiator: Design is a source of competitive advantage through brand equity, customer loyalty and price premium.

2. Design as integrator: Design improves product development processes (time to market and building consensus in teams using visualization skills) and favors a modular architecture of product lines, user-oriented innovation models, and front-end project management.

3. Design as transformer: Design creates business opportunities, improves a company’s ability to cope with change, and provides expertise in better interpreting the marketplace.

4. Design as good business: Design is a source of increased sales and better margins, more brand value, greater market share, and a better return on investment.

Here in the heartland, design, creativity and innovation thrive — boosting the development of our diverse business sectors. According to the Area Development Council, Kansas City ranks fourth in the country for its concentration of visual artists and sixth for its number of commercial and industrial designers.

Through its Annual Design Week, Kansas City joins other top cities internationally in celebrating design and educating communities about its effects in both industry and our daily lives. Now in its fifth year, Kansas City Design Week is the embodiment of a synchronicity between design and business through programs that demonstrate the value of design to businesses and engage the community in a conversation about design.

Kansas City Design Week 2014 will build on a developing legacy with 10 thought-provoking events in 10 days. Kicking off the week is legendary designer and advertising communicator George Lois, most well-known for his iconic Esquire Magazine covers of the 1960s and the “I Want My MTV” campaign of the 1980s. He will be interviewed by Steve Kraske.

Other events include Building Creative Confidence with Lawrence Abrahamson of influential innovation consultancy IDEO, who will discuss the use of human-centered “Design Thinking” to develop consumer experiences. Attendees can also get insight into the challenges of transforming a national landmark through landscape architecture when Gullivar Shepard digs into the the case study of the CityArchRiver Project in St. Louis. Then, people can take a look at how design entrepreneurship can drive sustainable growth and beneficial cultural change within startups at Envisioning the Balance with David Sherwin of Frog Design.

Meet design during the week of Feb. 27–March 8 and leave with inspiring ideas about how design can become a strategic asset to differentiate your company or organization. For more details about events and registration, visit

This article was contributed by AIGA Kansas City, the professional association for design. Kansas City Design Week is being presented by the collective efforts of AIGA KC; AIA Kansas City: the American Institute of Architects; IIDA Mid America, the international interior design association; and eight other allied organizations.

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