Pär Bergström, Shift Design & Strategy.

The Design Ladder

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“The research should benefit everyone – not just us”

This year is the fifteenth time Teknikföretagen has awarded the Grand Award of Design. Shift Design & Strategy became this year's proud "design supplier" and thereby the recipient of the SEK 250,000 (EUR 26,000) in prize money. The rules state that half of it must be invested in research.

So what are your thoughts at Shift Design? What will you invest the money in?

The question was put to Pär Bergström, who has been Shift Design's representative to ActSafe and been responsible for the ACX Power Ascender.

"We don't really know yet – we're still discussing it. We're asking ourselves what we'd like to achieve with the research. One thing is sure at least: we don't want the money to benefit us primarily; we want to go further. Preferably it should contribute something to the design field as a whole."

"There are no huge sums of money involved, so we will have to try to find some organisation or activity that can help to gear up the money. One issue I personally have been considering is how to motivate more people to use design. To dare to use it. In our field, all industrial designers know about the so-called 'design staircase' but sometimes it's far too theoretical."

The concept of a design staircase has been used by such design actors as SVID for many years. The use of design is illustrated graphically in the form of a staircase. At the very top, on the fourth step, is written "Design as strategy and innovation". Before getting there, a company must pass steps one and two, "Unconscious design" and "Design as external appearance" and also reach step three, "Design as process".

"When we reach out to small and medium-size companies it is sometimes overwhelming to start talking about all the steps in the design staircase and how design drives profitability. For us it's often really just a matter of helping them up onto the first step. So it would be fantastic to find a way to achieve this."

Do companies still not understand that design pays off?

"No, not really. And in the past few decades even more obstacles have popped up. One is that everything's happening so much faster nowadays. Digital products are being developed at lightning speed. Physical products take time to develop – for various reasons. But the digital world is speeding up the tempo, which is considerably higher now than when the theories about the design staircase were formulated. Often people are still discussing the entire staircase and how important it is to reach the top step. But these days companies don't have the patience to absorb everything. I'd like to get them to at least take the first step. Then a lot has been gained because they often keep going by themselves. Small and medium-size companies must get up onto the track – on the design track."


The article is written by Lotta Jonson and is published in Swedish Design Research Journal no 1, 2017.

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Swedish Design Research Journal no 1 2017

Framsidan till Swedish Design Research Journal nr 1 2017

This article is published in Swedish Design Research Journal no 1, 2017. 

Read and download the journal here

SVID, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation | Svensksundsvägen 13, 111 49 Stockholm | info@svid.se I +46 (0)8 406 84 40


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SVID, Swedish Industrial Design Foundation | Svensksundsvägen 13, 111 49 Stockholm | info@svid.se I +46 (0)8 406 84 40