IntroductionMel Lim Design / MLDhosted the first DMI Night Out in San Diego,with more than 130 designers, principles, andbusiness owners gathered at MOPA, Museumof Photographic Arts to watch the screeningof The Design & Thinking film.“This event grew out of a lengthydiscussion I had with my designer Suzanne Itoabout how we, as designers can help createmore value within our clients’ organizations,and how we can help influence the decision What is DMI?-making process in any product/ servicecreation at the early strategic level. Mel gave an opening speech, by introducing to the audience what DMI is. Mel shared a very personal story on how DMI has affected her career as a designer and business owner. “Remember 2008? It was a hard year for everyone. Eighty-percent of our studio’s revenue came fromThe more we talked a product line that we had called JOY. We sold our products to over 1000 stores nationwide and in- ternationally; all the way to the UAE. But in 2008, 90% of our retailers, big and small, filed for chapterabout it, the more 11. Well, we could not collect the money and we were lucky if we were paid 30 cents to a dollar. Iwe felt that it’s a needed to convert the remaining 20% of my business, which consisted of design services, back to 100%. How on earth could I do that in a short amount of time, while the economy was crumbling?”conversation to be had, said Mel.collectively, as a design Mel further shared that with the money she had left, she used to attend a DMI conference. It was thecommunity. best decision she had made. She met some really wonderful agency owners like herself, and corpo- rate in-house teams, who were all in the same situation as herself. “We were all hurting, we were all competitors, but we were all agreeing that THIS was the time forWe felt that screening The Design & Thinking designers. This was our moment to step up to the plate. This was when our creativity, expertise, andfilm was a great way to start the conversation services were most needed by the communities we served. DMI has provided me a venue where Ias we weren’t even sure if the community in can seek help from peers on key issues like strategies, client management, and business innovation.SD was aware of the term and methodologies Through DMI I have discovered new tools that I have learned and applied to existing clients, and overbehind it,” said Mel Lim, Principal and Creative time have watched those clients grow and succeed. So, when the idea of MLD hosting an event onDirector of MLD. Design Thinking came about, DMI Night felt like the perfect theme for us,” added Mel.
Q&A Panel DiscussionModerator: Mel LimPanelists:Yuhsiu Yang, Producer and Executive Manager of the Taipei Design Center USJay Porter, owner of The Linkery and El Take It Easy in San Diego.
Yang Yuhsiu: Jay Porter:About the Design & Thinking Film Rapid PrototypingLike most creative endeavors, this film was created organically and seren- With a background in software and tech, Jay Porter opened San Diego’sdipitously. Yang Yuhsiu, the producer, met the filmmakers, Mu-Ming Tsai first farm-to-table restaurant called The Linkery in 2005. While the qualityand Iris Lai in 2011. At that time, freshly graduated from Academy of Art SF, of the food is important to him and he rapid prototypes with fresh localboth Tsai and Lai had persuaded Yang to film his endeavors in SF as the ingredients daily, Jay felt that above all else, what matters most to him isExecutive Manager of Taipei Design Center US for a week. They had con- the dining experience.vinced Yang to produce a short film and if he didn’t like the quality of theirwork, he didn’t have to pay them. Yang agreed. “Why not!” he said. Jay also stressed the importance of group chemistry within his team, working in unison with a common goal. Jay expressed that while he mightSomehow, their short film grew into a larger project. The filmmakers not be the best person to tackle the question on team building, he be-decided to take on the topic of Design Thinking. Yang was elated. Though lieves in working with the best people that he can fully trust, to eliminatehe didn’t get any “permission” or budget from Taipei, he proceeded with micro-management.the project on his own. So Yang and his team (without permission fromTaipei) went on their own to interview design thinkers across the nation, On the subject matter of client management, Jay asked, “Do you guyson a shoestring budget. They posted their project on Kickstarter and raised spend a lot of time teaching your clients to be better clients?” He furthermore than $18,000, allowing them to include a total of 22 interviews and expressed that he would want to be the best possible client for his de-get the film into full production. signers, as being the best client would mean he would get the best work; which led to a bigger question –The audience was interested in how Yang was able to get funding, howhe was able to get such amazing pool of design thinkers to be in thedocumentary, and how two fresh grads without any experience in filming “How to be a good client?”documentary were able to pull off such a huge feat. Yang answered, “Thisis a giant prototyping experience!”
Can creativity be taught?We asked the audience,“Can creativity be taught?”There were mixed responses; designers who were trained traditionallyfrom art/design schools felt that it cannot be taught, but designerscan certainly learn the business language. On the other hand, a few Future discussions to be had:MBAs in the crowd who had learned design thinking in their programfelt that creativity can be taught just as long as they know how to “sell” What’s the definition of design?an idea or design. Yang also stressed that the term design thinking (Since everyone is calling themselves designers.)might be dangerous; where the word “thinking” is being overempha-sized and the “doing” might be overlooked. Our clients are our customers/ users. Can we use the same UX/CX principles on them as weMel also asked if there is a downside to over-educating clients on would on a project? Is client management UX/CX design?design, which would result in clients thinking that they know and canperform design, inadvertently undervaluing the work designers create. Too much talking and thinking. Let’s focus on the doing again.On the contrary, an audience member felt that the conversation atthe event was too focused on design and not on the experience. Mel Will there be a UX design bubble?countered by stressing that design and client management is part ofCX (customer experience). How designers treat their clients and what Instead of educating clients on design,they deliver in both experience and actionable design ideas must be should we be teaching clients to be good clients?measured.What’s NextMel concluded the event by asking the audience to participate morein strategic conversations. “This is the beginning of a dialogue within 9909 Corridor Streetthe local San Diego design community. It’s important to be open & San Diego, CA 92131honest. We may not agree on all view points, but having a genuine USAdebate is healthy and important to our profession as designers.” MLD e/ firstname.lastname@example.org looking forward to hosting more conversations surrounding the c/ 619.785.3880 topics of design entrepreneurship and frugal innovation in the w/ www.mellim.com upcoming months. twitter/ mellimbace