Thoughts on value and design

Joakim Karske started as the CEO of Design Forum Finland at the beginning of November. We asked about his thoughts on the outlook of Design Forum Finland and design.


Joakim, Design Forum Finland celebrated its 145th year of operation a year ago. How do you see the role and work of Design Forum Finland in the future?

“Design Forum Finland continues its valuable 145-year-old mission to raise the competitiveness of Finnish companies. In broad outline, our mission has stayed the same, but the means of achieving it require continuous revision.

We want to help Finland build a better working design ecosystem by making the role of different stakeholders clearer and by removing overlaps. In this respect, I see the role of Design Forum Finland as an overarching ‘facilitator’ that has a clear big picture of design and serves the interests of companies and interest groups.

Exploiting design in a comprehensive manner as a part of immaterial value creation is the most significant competitive asset for the Finnish economy and industry in protecting itself against global superbrands and digital giants. Design Forum Finland wants to lower the threshold to use design as a competitive asset.”


What is the advantage of using design for companies, then?

“When tapped into properly, design has huge value for companies and organisations. In a design-driven company or public organisation, the customer’s interests guide everything.

One of the change drivers is digitalisation, which has provided the traditional value chain with a new direction. Customers no longer arrive at a service only through marketing, but often meet the brands for the first time in the digital environment. As customers want to decide where, when, and through which channel they interact with the company, customer experience becomes the most important competitive advantage.

Creating good customer experience requires cultural change within companies. Customer experience doesn’t recognise artificial borders for responsibilities in processes, operations models or organisations; instead, organisations need to be able to seize a customer’s problem and fully solve it across all silos.

Design, especially service design and UX design, is a central tool in building customer experience and  brands.”


How can Design Forum Finland help with this?

“In Design Forum Finland, we focus on raising companies’ awareness and understanding of the significance of design, customer centricity, and brand as a competitive advantage.

The popular Design Forum Talk and Design Forum Date events as well as training provided by Design Forum Finland develop companies’ competences; in this way, they lower the threshold to utilise design and creative services. We also offer companies tailored coaching with the help of our partners.

We have been organising events and training programmes focusing on sustainable design and circular economy for a few years now, and those will carry on, as sustainability in all forms continues to become a “must have” for companies strategic agendas.”


What do you see as the strengths of Finnish design in the future and as the world changes?

“For me, ‘Finnish Design’ as a concept has always been more of a mindset and a way of doing things than an aesthetic or functional characteristic. The essential thing to do is to put the customer or end user in the centre of everything, be it designing a product, service, business model or an experience. I believe building on these strengths in the future as well.

When we talk about design, we talk increasingly about the experience and value that is created. When we define value, we need to focus not only on rational, but also on emotional, ecological and social value creation.

Finland has always been a design empire, it would be great if in the future we could also be known as the superpower of experience.”

Photo: Mikko Ryhänen