In May, CC&DW presented the key findings of our baseline study for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, on the design ecosystem of the Western Cape, at the CCDI here in Cape Town.
Design thinking, which is often misunderstood, is not adopting a vague and “airy-fairy way” of thinking nor does it necessarily mean you need to start thinking like an artist. It refers to a broader, more creative approach to problem-solving compared to conventional practices.
It was found, in 2013, that the Western Cape design industry employed approximately 50 000 workers and contributing an estimate of R 4 billion per annum to South Africa’s GDP. The Western Cape Government Department of Economic Development and Tourism identified design and design thinking as enablers of job creation, opportunities for growth, as well as giving businesses a competitive advantage through innovation. Here, design does not only refer to what a product looks or feels like, but rather the design of systems to manufacture and deliver such product, as well as the design the process of how customers interface with business or public sector and designing these services to cater to user’s needs.
After developing and implementing its official Design Strategy in 2013, the Department contracted CC&DW to conduct a baseline study on the design sector in the Province to understand what the sector looks like, with focus on both the demand and the supply of design services. The study found that both businesses that were ready to use design more innovatively (demand) and designers that were ready to grow into businesses that provide innovative design services (supply) have reaped the benefits of design thinking over the past three years. These benefits included increase in annual turn-over, improvements in efficiency, increase in number of products produced, as well as raised company profiles.
The study provided the WCG DEDAT with the necessary findings to strengthen their interventions in the Province’s design sector, with specific emphasis on connecting supply and demand role-players with each other, to find the ‘sweet spot’ where the user’s needs, business viability, and technology intersect and innovation is born.”
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