Prof. Ron Nabarro, a strategist, entrepreneur, researcher and educator, the former jury president of Red Dot Design Award, has been a practicing designer since 1970 and to date. He won 24 national and international design awards, and was and are a member of judging panels for a range of prestigious design competitions,including WTN, Red Dot, Red Dot Concept.His principle areas of research and interest are design thinking, age friendly design and design management.
Views on Zayton
Solutions to new situations should be re-thought
The pandemic has caused severe damage to export industry and as well as enterprises that relies on export business. Could you give them any advice on how they can use design to pull through this crisis?
When we are talking about design, you have what I call the traditional design which means you deal with the objects based on the use, need or capability. But now design is a way of thinking, and doesn’t have to deal with fiscal solutions. Many times it works on new strategies.For instance, in many countries around the world, restaurants couldn’t work anymore, because it’s not allowed to have so many people in a small environment. And slowly they developed a messenger system and they have started to deal with design solutions regarding the packaging, like how do you package food very quickly and the food can still be the same appearance and temperature,etc.So here designers are coming in not so much the traditional design approaches of dealing with the objects,but dealing with developing strategies or system. I think this is what we call out of the box to find solutions to a new situation. I think that factories are in the same box like the restaurants.The whole world was a little bit in a shock, with nobody knowing what was that. And slowly we learned what it was all about. So slowly I think the factories would learn what are the new needs of people.If we stay longer at home, we need different products that will make us stay more comfortable.The house actually becomes the place where we work and learn, and families suddenly become together much more time than normal.You know in the normal life, children go to school in the morning and they come back in the afternoon and parents are at work. Everyone has a kind of peace in mind. As I said before, if I have to work at home, and I don’t have a separate room for that, how can design provide a solution that at least I could keep peace in mind. I mean if the children are playing in the other part of the room, and I want to concentrate in this part of the room, how can I be isolated on one hand but keep an eye on the children that they will not do something that they are not allowed to do. This is a very interesting program for designers. This is exactly what designers need to do to give us solutions to live in unexpected situations.And of course, designers have to work hand in hand with companies. Maybe companies have to change, to rethink what is their product line.The world is changing and factories have to adjust, otherwise they die.
Reputation comes from professional rules and attractive reasons for a competition
There are many design competitions in China. According to your experience, could you give us any advice on how to operate a competition in order to make it more influential in the world?
This is a very complicated question. You could compare this situation to a designer who starts a new design firm.At the beginning, nobody knows about him. If he makes a very good project,and it’s published, and somebody else sees his work, and will say that this is a good designer, we may also hire him as well.And slowly and slowly, they develop their reputation and name. I think that the most important part of setting a design competition is to have a very high-level jury.If the work is good, it gets name in the world, and if it’s not, the competition has to decide no to it. When I was the jury of the Red Dot, sometimes we don’t have the best of the best in the category. We don’t take something and say it’s OK. If there is no best of the best, there will be no award. On this level, the rules of the competition have to be kept very strictly. And slowly, like young designers, you create your own reputation.Besides, at the beginning if you create a very attractive reason for designers to participate, and slowly you build the reputation of being very serious, very high-level and professional.
Views on Design
The border between personal life and work life is a little bit blurred
Since the Covid-19 affected people’s life in 2020, how do you think this pandemic affected design or the creative industry?How to deal with those changes?
First of all, obviously there is a very dramatic change, because lots of the work is happening from home. If I need to go to the office, I have to sit in my car for about an hour to get to the office.Now people’s working at home is actually saving this time. This is one hand, and on the other hand, many people are complaining that they miss very much their social events of going to work and meeting other people.I think that we’re beginning to learn a new reality. Definitely we have a lot of effects on design around us and the border between personal life and work life is a little bit blurred. I think that designs will have to find solutions to have better working environment at home, and to design different working environment for the office.I know that many start-up companies in Israel will definitely change the structure of the office which will be more group-work environment and less personal desks. I guess also that a lot of the equipment we will be using, cameras, microphones, speakers, screens and computers, everything will have to be adapted to the new reality, where we will be more online, inside the home and outside the home. It’s very difficult to sit in the park and work. But why shouldn’t we work from the park, because at the moment technology didn’t give us solutions for that. But somebody will have to probably work on solutions where people would be able to be in the public space, isolated from the environmental noise and do work. So I don’t think that design has yet understood all the consequences of what covid-19 has brought to us, but I’m sure that many design firms have already worked on it, and tried to find solutions for the new reality.
About on Industry
Ideas from the young generation should be carefully treated
In this era full of uncertainties, how do you think we should upgrade the cultivation and education system of the design talents? Anything you want to say to the young designers or design students?
First of all, I think companies and managers should listen more carefully to the young designers, even the young are unexperienced designers.Because they have less experience, they are more daring to give solutions which are innovative. We have to listen to them and work together, even if they make mistakes, say crazy things or suggest irresponsible solutions.It’s very important to be very very attentive to the young generation.The other thing that I want to suggest is to do a lot of research and understanding before you start putting lines on paper. Many times I have encountered this, that if you give a designer a problem, they immediately start sketching on paper or computer. I think that they need to do much research before giving solutions, share more time with the potential users, and understand what they need.For instance, you probably know that I do a lot of work with aging population. Many of the products on the market today are not suitable for the elder people.If I don’t sit and talk with them to do research, I cannot image how they really feel.
Sayings at the end
During the conversation with Prof. Ron Nabarro, we learn that he hopes that whether companies or designers should make adjustments immediately according to the environment, and they should think and observe thoroughly before adjusting, thus surviving from this changing era.