8 Minute Rad

By Hari Abburi, Fast Co. Executive Board

We live in a golden age of design. From the industrial era all the way through the dot com era and beyond, good design was a privilege reserved for a few companies with big budgets to spend on R&D or branding. In a world where every company is a technology and data company, design is now the competitive advantage. In fact, I believe the recent record rise of unicorns is not just indicative of access to capital, it is indicative of access to brilliant design.


A lot has been written on design thinking; however, I prefer to discuss design thinking as an imaginative skill rather than a methodology. Most approaches focus on product or become problem-solving extensions. For example, empathy for a situation or customer is good, but it’s like being on a treadmill—it keeps you fit but in the same place.

Design is a metaphysical ability to ideate. It is probably best discovered through these two statements:

Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Donald Judd: “Design has to work. Art does not.”

In these statements you discover the disruptive, transformation nature of design—and the need for it to be functional, leading up to drawing an emotive experience for the users.