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Learning to Practice: Nurturing Client Business in Design Education

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date12/2012
JournalDesign Management Review
Number of pages14
Early online date26/11/12
Original languageEnglish


The past is another country.

Picture the scene: Sterling Cooper advertising agency. Don Draper’s 1960s New York office. Clients with little knowledge of the creative process—impressed by quick wit and clever wording—hand the agency a brief. The creatives, after hours of pacing their office, cigarette in one hand, scotch on the rocks in the other, using a process only powerful account executives can understand, weave their magic and produce, at the last minute and seemingly out of nowhere, yet another fantastic slogan that makes the clients millions of dollars. The client marvels at the mysterious wonders of the design process, and exits happy. Design team did good. Job done. Time for another cigarette.

If the design process depicted in the TV series “Mad Men” were ever true, it surely is no longer. Gone are the days when designers were given a tight brief by the client and left to “get on with it,” where designers work in isolation, left to their own mystical devices. The clients that employ designers today have vastly different needs from those in the Don Draper days. Design is not something that is added at the end of a process, like icing on a cake. It’s not the magic wand of the felt-tip fairy. It is the process.