Where does the best design come from? 

How does design look like in China? Or Japan? And how about India? Is it more creative than here in Germany? Less? They use totally different colors, right?

One can simply say “I really love German design! It’s so… straight“ and many will agree. German brands like Braun, Siemens, BMW, and many more are praised all over the world. German design is known for its quality and modernity and for many equals to infallibility.

Different countries, different design?

This may have been the case long ago, but as a result of globalization our borders have loosened and new ideas spread faster than ever. Our Shanghai office is the best proof of this claim, who would otherwise believe, that a small team consisting of Americans, Italians, Spanish, Indonesians, Russians and Chinese, only to name a few among equals, can accept, even benefit each other’s work?

Of course, people are curious about things that are foreign and exotic. Design is considered to represent a national identity, culture, language, history. Some countries are believed to “produce” better design than others. You can even find World Design Ranking online. If you go further into common beliefs, you’ll find out that German design is thought to be edgy, that of France is curvy, classy surfaces are preferred in Italy and Swedish design is known for its commitment to simplicity.

As different as our global cultures, people and foods may be – design is a modern language, connecting everything and everyone

We have examined this in our WILDCARDS. Our first go went for Germany and China. The small and big differences between cultures give valuable ideas and are a source of creativity and inspiration for new design solutions.

WILDDESIGN Where does the best design come from?

WILDCARDS in action!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

While commonly assuming, that designers in Sweden deliver Swedish design, it’s apparent that the Swedish are open to other influences, because one’s own identity might become “boring” after a while. Of course, a German designer could choose to make “typical” German design. He might even become internationally successful with this approach. But it is nothing new, nor for him, nor for his recipients, right?

And that is what design is about – something new

Travel broadens your mind…

…and the same applies for design. Therefore, we naturally shove our interns into the cold water of the Gelsenkirchen design reality: having only arrived 1-2 hours before, they already participate in neurosurgery and brand management. And maybe you wouldn’t believe it – they cope with that! And they cope just fine! Whether they are from India, France, Korea, China, Australia or Dubai, come from an art school or are more into industrial design, they adapt to the new environment very quickly. Being part of the design business is like a membership card to an international club. A cool community, that is present all around the world – practically found in every city!

This is not because the prerequisites for the design industry are low. Quite contrary, design requires good schooling and the development of a personal touch. But design is also a global way of thinking, it is an openness for innovation and readiness for new inspirations. All these factors have evolved into a new language. The creative language of the young generation that is often described as the generation of millennials. Youth raised in a globalized world who willingly seeks for new challenges. A designer can work anywhere. A solid set of skills and proficient level of English are enough to participate in this game.

Not that they don’t make any mistakes at all! Click here to see 5 common mistakes made by young designers >>>

Take part

Isn’t it remarkable that a 22-year old Chinese girl arrives in the German town of Gelsenkirchen and barely needs 20 minutes to understand her task along with its associated challenges before she eagerly proceeds to make her first sketches? Would this be possible in other professions? It’s thanks to this intuitive background, that design can be attributed to the visual and performing arts.

If “German design” was still conservative or strongly dogmatic, we would have to retrain and reteach every “foreigner” and newcomer to suit our local design language. This is not the case. Design is an open type of cooperation, open for difference in opinions and positions.

Design profits hugely from inspiration

This is the greatest difference to the other global languages in which everyone seems to be able to communicate such as money, cars and engineering. Can you envision an investment banker drawing inspiration from colleagues on the other side of the world? Or engineers? Usually these professions are not associated with the cultural, artistic or creative element. The element that connects design with drama, dance, music and visual art. But contrary to those areas, design today plays a key role in securing economic success all around the globe.

Good times for designers. Bad times for people refusing to constantly rethink their positions and opinions.

So, coming back to the initial question:

Where does the best design come from?

Everywhere and nowhere.

And of course from our two locations in Shanghai and Gelsenkirchen.

And you? What do you think? Is there any particular country that delivers better design than others? How would you position design from your country comparing to other countries? Do you think it makes sense to rate the design by its country of origin?

Click here for a German version of this article Wo wird das beste Design gemacht? >>>

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Markus writes about design- and innovation management, creativity methods, medical design and intercultural branding. More about...

Originally written by Markus Wild, 10. September 2015. Last updated 15. May 2023


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