Design Innovation for Everyone: Stand Out In The Fifth Industrial Revolution Through Design Innovation

4 min readAug 24, 2023


by Daryl Goh and Nicholas Teo

I finished the book and found it insightful for my design journey, transitioning from a craft-based designer to a multidisciplinary one as design evolves over time. Here are my favorite excerpts from the book.

Photo by Balázs Kétyi on Unsplash

Traditional Design/Idealism

Design initially emphasised the creation of aesthetic pleasing objects through material manipulation and conceptualisation. Most designers had a certain level of idealism. For example, textile designers who only used certain materials with sentimental values, visual designers who firmly stick to certain principles of design, or automobile designers who had to adhere to the company’s historical values.

It is uncommon to see graphic designers having a unique voice by using typography in all their designs, or visual designers who love to work with minimalism or simplicity in every project. More often than not, the client’s desired outcome is secondary in such working arrangements. The client specifically engages the designer because of his strengths or beliefs. Illustrators are good examples. Although they are obliged to meet the client’s needs, they also have the autonomy to create the work in their trademark style.

This idealism is common in graphic designers, motion graphic artists and distinctly different filmmakers such as Wong Kar-wai or Michael Cina. Wong Kar-wai is renowned for his use of hand-held cameras and sense of nostalgia. Michael Cina appropriates paint as an element of digital design while informing his work with inspirations from the Bauhaus and Modernism movements.

The longer the designer practices, the more sentimental value is placed on a designer’s style, or idealism. This ‘hole’ that designers ‘fall’ into can only get deeper and it will be increasingly difficult to get out of it, as it is seen as going against the values and efforts that have gotten designers their reputations.

Growing relevance of design

Relating design only to craft limits the scope and impact of the designer in today’s era. Although craft creates a visual way to recognise the designer’s practice, this definition has grown outdated with the consumption of products shifting towards experiences. This creates a larger level of responsibility to design.

Digital products have provided a new form of scale and the value of design has also been placed more on the impact than the craft. We are creating products that are patronised by millions. Our dexterity to affect a large-scale change is here. Design has also become a way of thinking and its chief objective is to be a problem solver.

Fundamentals components of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) are now necessary skill sets in design. Without them, the designer’s contribution does not suffice. This is because the workplace is becoming increasingly cross disciplinary. The design has to be technically-informed and yet accessible and usable to the mainstream user. This challenging task falls on the shoulders of a designer and without comprehending the know-hows of modern technology including blockchain and IOTs, we will only be halfway towards a good product.

When we speak of design as a mindset, the designer is referred to as a thinker. His contributions goes beyond the production of beautiful things. The designer’s critical insight into rapidly changing user journeys and frameworks provides value. Revolutionary scenarios such as pandemics can sometimes render former data intelligence redundant. COVID-19 is a good example with a new norm introduced almost overnight. The objective is to help large populations ease into the new norm by understanding their most immediate needs. In such circumstances where lifestyles are overturned, solutions that fusion the disruption come in basic or primitive forms and craft-based design methodologies are secondary.

Today, designers work in technology companies across fintech, edtech, artificial intelligence and healthcare sectors. They play a crucial role in bridging market validity through consumer research. Every product we see today is an example of creativity influencing business. Associate Professor Steve Diller validated that creative schools are increasingly relevant in business as they provide user-centricity that is required to align with the proliferation of emerging technology. Design thinking strategies provide new perspectives to our problems, turning these problems into opportunities.

Collaborating with differences

Networking with people of similar backgrounds can be pleasurable. However, learning is limited due to the local of differentiated qualities. Differences provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation. Managing difference requires maturity and humility, but the benefits are immense.

[Having different skillsets] enable the generation of multiples and alternative perspectives on any subject matter, the basis of innovation. This is especially relevant for start-ups — a founding team should have completely different skill sets that allows them to harness their collective strengths to solve future problems. There are many examples throughout corporate history that demonstrate innovation thanks to successful management of differences.

The full book:




A space to share my journey as a multidisciplinary designer.