Further enhancing the value of design through research

How will the design consulting service "bondo" solve the management problems of companies? Oki Sato of nendo and Hiroshi Maruo of Nikkei Design Lab discuss the role of "bondo."

Sato:At present our design office, nendo, is involved simultaneously in more than 400 projects. The content of these projects is varied. In some, for example, we are helping to create future business models through new product development, the renewal of standard products, and design, and in others we are proposing corporate communication strategies. In particular, recently there has been an increase in the number of requests from companies that know they must do something but are not sure what to do for us to think about their concerns together with them.

In solving these vague worries, the important thing first of all is to properly define the conditions of design. In other words, it is essential to identify the real problems that companies themselves have not noticed but that lie in the shadow of their worries and bring them into relief.

Maruo:For example, let's suppose that a company is worried because a product or service that it developed is not selling as well as expected. What are the problems that need to be solved in such a case?

Sato:f it is a product that is not very well known, first of all it is necessary to try and boost its recognition. If the product or service is known but still is not selling, there is a possibility that its attractions are not being properly transmitted. Or maybe the product itself does not have much attraction. The possible problems are varied.

And the means of solving them are wide-ranging too, from advertising, promotion, and package design to renewal of the product itself, interior design, such as sales counters, and website design. Anyway, amid the existence of a host of problems and solutions, the issue is where to move in and try and solve the problem through design. In order to find an answer here, first of all research must be conducted to correctly understand the present state of the company and pave the way for problem solution. Before drawing up visions of how they want to be, companies must be encouraged to understand their own present state.

Maruo:The quality of the final design depends on how well this research is done. Therefore, "bondo" has prepared a diverse research menu in order to gauge the present state of companies and determine design investment.

As well as interviewing various personnel of the company from many angles, "bondo" assembles learned persons and experts to analyze the company from an external perspective. In addition, using the Nikkei Group's wide-ranging information sources, we grasp industrial trends and thereby propose the position of the company and the direction it should take.

Nikkei design lab also calculates design and brand value as objective numerals and surveys them. In recent years it has become common for ordinary businesspeople to learn design thinking and to search for new business chances through the observation of users and so on. Such methods also can play a role in identifying problems facing companies.

In this way, we analyze what kind of problems companies may have from a variety of angles and as far as possible pinpoint the issues. As a result, we can help nendo make even more accurate proposals than before and produce even better results in terms of alleviating the worries of many companies. This collaboration in the upstream process of design is bondo's foremost role.

It is a tie-up between Nikkei BP's investigative and media capabilities and nendo's excellent problem-solving and visualization capabilities. By combining these two factors, we can further enhance the problem-solving capacity of design. That is the kind of service we are aiming for.

Hiroshi Maruo
Senior researcher, Nikkei BP Visionary Management Research Institute
Nikkei Design Lab

Graduated from International Christian University in 1998. After joining Nikkei BP in the same year, served as a reporter for Nikkei System Provider and Nikkei Design, becoming chief editor of Nikkei Design in 2014. Appointed to his current post in 2016. Involved in surveys and research mainly on branding, the utilization of intellectual property, and design innovation. Main publications include Appuru no dezain (Apple's Design) and Sozai to dezain no kyokasho (Textbook of Materials and Design).

Oki Sato
Representative, nendo design office


Born in Canada in 1977. After completing an MA in architecture at the Waseda University Graduate School of Science and Engineering in 2002, established the Tokyo office of nendo. Among other awards, was named one of Newsweek's "100 Most Respected Japanese" in 2006 and received the Nikkei Business Online "Change Maker of the Year" prize in 2015. Main publications include Sato Ooki no botsubon (Oki Sato's Rejected Projects) (Nikkei BP).