PhD content in brief

Internationalization of design research and education centers.
Promotion of international design networks
Valentina Auricchio

Today, small enterprises and artisans are facing a difficult moment in which they are not able to understand how to survive in a evermore competitive and global market. They no longer have contact with final users, which often live in other territories and belong to different cultures, and do not have the tools to connect and innovate at an international level.
Since the early 70’s, designers around the world have been working in this arena with the aim to help artisans reach new markets and learn how to develop autonomous innovative processes. Through transfer of knowledge and support in creating networks, designers have shown unique capabilities that can support internationalization processes of territories worldwide by:
_identifying new markets and interpreting cultures (EXPORT);
_identifying new technologies (CO-PRODUCTION);
_identifying new cultural context (CO-DESIGN).

In this scenario, design research and education institutions have had a fundamental role in engaging new research paths and developing education programs in the fields of design management and strategic design in order to support international competitiveness. The strive for internationalization has pushed design institutions to enlarge their networks, connect with territories and give students and staff the opportunity to widen their view. By doing so, they have become strategic entities for the internationalization of their countries.
In the knowledge based society, education and research institutions have become important actors in supporting the international competitiveness of their territories by developing innovative researches and forming new professional profiles.
Therefore, design research and education institutions have become gateways for companies interested in connecting and competing internationally.

The main aim of the research is to identify projects in which design institutions have supported the internationalization of productive territories in order to stimulate an international debate in this area.
The area of reference of the research is Social Design and it historically refers to those projects in which designers have had an important role in connecting the periphery with the center. Victor Papanek, Gui Bonsiepe and Victor Margolin have been the main design theorist in this area.
The research developed has aimed to collect projects that have been carried out in the past ten years in this field. Projects that have been developed by design centers, institutions, individual designers that demonstrate that design can have a strategic role in social and economical development. These projects are mainly lead by the desire to help artisans and small producers to reach new markets and to build connections with partners worldwide.
The research has been lead through on field research and interviews of actors involved in the debate and in the projects detected. The projects collected have been saved in an “online platform” (blog of the research which has been the a first interface with the research community.
Fifteen projects selected out of the many projects collected in the blog have been briefly explained through graphs and maps which give a general understanding of the state of the art in this field.

The analysis of the project has been done at different levels:
_geographical map of territories and actors involved;
_chronological map of the projects;
_role of the design actors in the projects;
_results respect to the internationalization of the territories involved;
_aims and objectives of the projects;
_project phases.

The final analysis of the projects aims to give a future view on the trajectories taken by the actors involved, the lessons learnt and the suggestions on how to take forward a debate in this field in order to develop new research and form professionals.
Today, there is a large amount of design centers, institutions and professionals who believe that design can have a strategic role in helping artisans and small companies in building global value chains. This belief has been demonstrated through real projects that show that designers are capable, not only in developing new products and services, but also in building global value chains that allow artisans to access new markets. Through these projects, designers transfer innovation capabilities to communities, enabling them to connect with partners worldwide.
However, this field is still not recognized as a research field in design and there are very few courses which aim to form professionals capable to replicate successful experiences in other contexts. This is also due to the fact that, up to today, design tools applied have not yet been codified.
Although the methods and tools identified in the projects still require confrontation and verification in other contexts, the catalogue of projects collected throughout the research is the first of its kind and the hope is for it to be a starting point for an international debate on design methods and tools applicable in this research area.


The following list of posts are a collection of interesting articles which have been collected during the PhD research. Some of them are Design Centers, others are projects, others are links to websites.
Of these posts, 15 case studies have been picked out to be analysed in depth.


Saturday, 24 November 2007

Innovation RCA

Innovation RCA is a new network set up by the Royal College of Art to link RCA graduates with business in order to create innovation opportunities.
Innovation RCA has been established with a major award from the UK Government's Higher Education Innovation Fund. It aims to bring greater coordination, clarity and reach to the Royal College of Art's relationship with business, and higher levels of professional support for new RCA graduates and alumni.
Innovation RCA's programmes in Applied Research, Product Development and Creative Business enable the College's graduates and business partners to work together to innovate more effectively.

Design Link

The Design Council runs “Design Link“ in each English region, These are committees of industrial designers who volunteer to be a support group for the Design Counsellors in that region’s Business Links. (Design Counsellors are specialist business advisers - who are meant t0 advise Business Link clients on design-related issues and to raise the importance of design as an integral part of business rather than as an after-thought, bolt-on). The idea is that Design Link members can open doors, suggest suitable contacts, help with further lines of inquiry etc.


The International Design Business Management programme (IDBM) is a joint teaching and research programme of three leading Finnish universities: the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the Helsinki University of Technology. The purpose of the programme is to bring together experts in different fields within the concept of design business management.

The objective of the IDBM programme is to train skilled professionals for key roles in international design business. The programme emphasizes the importance of design as a competitive factor among others, such as technology. Arising from the needs of the industry, this programme gives future marketers, engineering experts and designers an opportunity to practice important interpersonal skills through projects and courses. The programme teaches students to make full use of their own potential as members of interdisciplinary teams.

Friday, 23 November 2007

DesignStart - GLOBAALI

The aim of the DesignStart-program is to strengthen the company’s competitiveness
through incorporation of such product characteristics perceived as important by
customers. DesignStart gives the company the possibility to use a professional designer,
either for products or to enhance the company image. The programme includes four
days of consultation over a period of three months.

DesignStart is an industrial design development programme targeted at both existing and new companies that are about to start their operation. The purpose of the programme is to assist the companies in developing the usability and outward appearance of their products or the graphical business image.Service branch companies can benefit from DesignStart in the development of their graphical business image, for example, in designing their logo and brochures, as well as, in commercialising their services.The programme is implemented as separate case-specific consultations between a DesignStart expert and the business management of a company. The programme is carried through in approximately a three-month period of time. The programmes are ordered from the DesignStart product managers at the TE Centres’ Business Departments.
The costs of DesignStart are:
420 € for companies younger than 3 years.
Additional consultation days (maximum 5 days) 165 € per day.
840 € for companies older than 3 years.
Additional consultation days (maximum 5 days) 300 € per day.

Global – development programme for internationalisation (Business Department). The Global programme is tailored for SME’s that are about to start or already expanding their international activities to new market areas. The programme is particularly suitable for the time before applying for the internationalisation support.The target of the programme is to provide a company with a view on the opportunities and risks involved in its internationalisation, as well as, to investigate and evaluate the international operational prerequisites that the company has. The programme directs the companies to well-planned long-term internationalisation.
The cost of the Global programme is 630 € (with 2.5 consultation days).
Additional consultation (1-5 days) is available for 300 € per day.

Putting SMEs first

_SMEs – the lifeblood of Europe’s economy
_Think small first
_Facts & Figures
_Improving access to finance
_Facing environmental challenges together
_Ensuring fair competition
_Education and skills for entrepreneurship
_Helping SMEs go international
_Boosting research and innovation
_Protecting your ideas
_Micro- and craft enterprises in the EU
_Support for SMEs at regional level

EU policies and activities for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

In the framework of the European Charter for Small Enterprises implementation process the Commission issued on 8 February 2005 several documents giving an overview of the most recent policies and initiatives in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Europe. Among these documents, the SME Envoy Report outlines European Union policies and activities in favour of SMEs.
Prepared under the coordination of the SME Envoy, the Report offers an overall presentation of the measures taken by the Commission for SMEs. It provides a review of policies, initiatives and programmes having an impact on SMEs covering not only the ten areas of the Charter for Small Enterprises but also other European Union policy areas relevant to SMEs.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


GALLERY NORSU is dedicated to Nordic contemporary craft. The gallery, in the centre of Helsinki, showcases the finest in innovative Nordic Craft, both functional and sculptural, including jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, textiles, wood, furniture and glassware. Galleria Norsu is run by the Society for New Craft.


The Society for New Craft is a non-profit society which works to increase the knowledge of Finnish and Nordic contemporary craft. The society organizes exhibitions, seminars, lectures and excursions.

As a member of the Society for New Craft you support the society in its work and receive special offers. You receive invitations to all the exhibitions and information about other activities organized by the society and Gallery Norsu. You also get a discount of 5 % on products purchased in the gallery shop.


The Arctic Pearls campaign arranged by the Regional Council for Lapland aims at supporting and promoting the business operations of Lappish actors in the creative arts by helping them to introduce new and innovative products on the market. In 2007, the focus is on design. The campaign is planned to continue, when the spotlight will be on another group active in the field of culture and the creative arts. "

Arctic Pearls arranges various marketing strategies in order to enhance the visibility and availability of Lappish handicrafts and design.

To get the ball rolling, the campaign arranged a commercialisation competition in autumn 2006, which searched for individual products or design concepts that would lend themselves to being manufactured by hand or industrial production. In other words, pearls of Lappish design!

We chose two winners: Anu Kulmala and Elle Valkeapää. Both are studying industrial design at the University of Lapland. Their prize comprises expert assistance with product development, marketing and setting up a business. This website will keep you to date with the development of their products.

Mie designer group received a commendation in the competition; you can find their products at

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


a project to develop marketing in the crafts and design business

This project will instigate a survey on marketing by entrepreneurs in the crafts and design business and on the collection of research data. Furthermore, the project will develop marketing services for crafts and design businesses and produce online learning materials. Theme days focusing on marketing, training in image processing and distance learning courses on online business will be provided for crafts and design entrepreneurs.

The project ran from 1 May 2007 to 30 April 2008 and it was financed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the European Social Fund (ESF).
The Finnish Crafts Organization carried out an Internet survey in June-August 2007 with craft and design enterprises, buyers, company consultants and consumers. It also conducted group interviews among entrepreneurs. The survey aims to record the current situation of crafts and design marketing in Finland and the need for improving marketing skills, for instance through training and corporate services. The present survey on the marketing of Finnish craft and design products will be completed by the beginning of 2008, and the results of the international survey will be available in spring 2008.

The Finnish Crafts Organization carried out also an international survey on craft and design product marketing in September 2007. The aim of this questionnaire is to provide information on how craft and design products are marketed in Europe at the moment, what changes or needs for changes are evident and what viable forms of marketing might be available in the future. The results of the international survey will be available in spring 2008.

Taito business advisors assist crafts enterprises through
_consultation: business idea development, product evaluation, pricing, consumer protection issues
_education:trade customs, product development, finances, production, marketing
_marketing services:trial marketing, participation in bazaars and fairs, export services
_Internet service, advisors function as a network of regional contact people
_development project and business incubator services

In addition the associations’ other services are also available
_marketing network services: national Taito Shop retail network and retail shops in local crafts centres
_marketing events: crafts fairs, bazaars and sales events

Taito services: courses, workshop instruction, supply of materials and tools
_exhibitions, competitions, events, awards, communication
_Finnish Crafts Organization’s role in business services

development projects, education, publications, research
Finnish Craftnet, Taito Magazine

Additional information
Taina Tervonen, Project Manager
The Finnish Crafts Organization Taito
Email: info(at)

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


The dti sees the Design Indaba Expo as a means of satisfying its objectives of increasing market access opportunities for and export of South African goods and services, contributing towards building skills, technology and infrastructure platforms from which enterprises can benefit, and significantly progressing broad based Black Economic Empowerment.
In addition the expo is part of a long-term project committed to taking the South African creative industries to the global world.

North meets South

North meets South is an updated and expanded version of the exhibition about the links between Scandinavian and African Design.
Prior to coming to Milan it could be seen in 2004 at the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne, in 2005 in Paris at the Centre Culturel Suédois and in 2006 in Stockholm at the Nordiska museet.
Highlight of the exhibition is a audiovisual installation by Li Edelkoort, chairwoman of the Design Academy Eindhoven, that analyzes the parallels of Africa and Scandinavia in forms and patterns discovering traces of a common design language.
Rossana Orlandi and curator Li Edelkoort are happy to announce the opening of North meets South, a dynamic exhibit that analyses the aesthetic links between Scandinavian and African design.North meets South was previewed at 2004’s Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, before traveling to Paris at the Centre Culturel Suédois in 2005 and Stockholm in 2006, at the Nordiska museet and the Formex interior fair. The exhibition has now been seen by more than 250 000 people.This October’s updated exhibition in Milan has been expanded to include mesmerizing new craft and design pieces from the various countries defining ‘north’ and ‘south’. The origin of these pieces - furniture, rugs, ceramics, textiles, tools and toys - is not always discernible to the naked eye, thus inspiring surprising questions about the roots of humanity and the DNA of design. The objects will be displayed in the form of a still-life within the Spazio Rossana Orlandi galleries.The audiovisual installation by Li Edelkoort highlights the exhibit, set to music and analysing exactly how much Africa mirrors Scandinavia and visa versa. These images look at form that is moulded, recycled and sculpted, and pattern that is rhythmic, primitive and narrative; traces of a common design language where folklore is universal.A concept to be continued in Milan is the sale of design products from both Scandinavia and Africa, blending to exemplify the ease with which these two cultures’ aesthetics can be combined and integrated into contemporary living. A small all-colour catalogue will also be available for purchase.Li Edelkoort is known as one of the world's most famous trend forecasters and as the chairwoman of the renowned Design Academy Eindhoven. Edelkoort works with a wide variety of trend analysis ranging from her trend books for Trend Union and her magazine Bloom, to providing consulting for international leading brands and companies.

AID to ARTISANS - magazine

The object of HAND/EYE is first to support Aid to Artisans in its mission to
create new opportunities for success for artisan businesses from around the
world. Success at ATA means vibrant commerce, surprising product in unexpected
places, new customers and increased sales. It also means that artisans in Africa,
Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America earn profits that they re-invest in their
businesses, their families and their communities. Success means improved businesses
AND improved lives. HAND/EYE will both describe ATA initiatives and invite
you to participate in them.

SOfar SOnear

SoFar/SoNear is the first Italian company designing and producing high end fabrics, rugs and furniture with a sustainable focus. Established in 2004, the company's scope is to leverage Italian design and traditional handcraft from the South of the World.
Besides our own collections, SoFar/SoNear offers bespoke design for fashion ateliers, architects and retailers.


Changing the change - Design Visions, Proposals and Tools

Changing the change
Design Visions, Proposals and Tools.
An international conference on the role and potential of design research in the transition towards sustainability
Torino, 10th - 11th - 12th July 2008
Organised by Co-ordination of Italian Design Research Doctorates with Conference of Italian Design Faculty Deans and Programme Heads
In the framework of WORLD DESIGN CAPITAL TORINO 2008 © ICSIDAn Icsid initiative of the IDA

The conference "Changing the Change" seeks to make a significant contribution to a necessary transformation that involves changing the direction of current changes toward a sustainable future. It specifically intends to outline the state-of-the-art of design research in terms of visions, proposals and tools with which design can actively and positively take part in the wider social learning process that will have to take place.At the heart of the conference design researchers will present concrete and documentable research results. This will be complemented by invited keynote speaker's presentations that will help paint a clearer picture of the common ground from which the conference will take off.


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