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John Heskett: Design and the Creation of Value

Design and the Creation of Value’ publishes for the first time his groundbreaking seminar on design and economic value. In remarkably clear and accessible prose Heskett explores the how the key traditions of economic thought conceive of how value is created. Critically teasing out the role of design in this process, Heskett shows how design’s role in innovating and creating value creating value for organisations and products can be given a firm grounding in economic theory.


Featuring examples of businesses which have successfully responded to the value of design in their practice, as well as others who have failed because of their inability to understand value-creation, Heskett looks in detail at the relationship between producers, markets, products and consumers, using these instances to offer a both a strong critique of the limitations conventional economic thought and new model of the economic importance of in value creation.

Table of contents

Clive Dilnot: Introduction to Design & the Creation of Value
Cameron Weber: A note on John Heskett’s economics
Sabine Junginger: Design as an economic necessity for governments and organisations 
Clive Dilnot: Notes on editing the manuscript

Design and the Creation of Value
§1: Design in Economic Life? 
Part One: Economic Theory & Design 
§2: Neo-Classical Theory 
§3: Austrian Theory 
§4: Institutional Theory 
§5: New Growth Theory 
§6: The National System 
Part Two: Design & the Creation of Value 
§7: Design from Standpoint of Economics 
§8: Economics from the Standpoint of Design 
§9: Design and Value from the Standpoint of Practice 
Appendix 1: Socialist Theory 
Appendix 2: Value and Values in Design
Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl: Afterword

About the author

John Heskett was a pioneering British design historian, with a particular interest in design and economics.

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“Heskett provides us the most comprehensive set of ideas about how organizations can use design to create economic value. These essays are the best source for linking design theory with policies that organizations can adopt and act upon.” 

–  Patrick Whitney, Distinguished Professor at the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, USA

“Clive Dilnot and Suzan Boztepe are two of the finest scholars in the design field. This judicious selection brings Heskett’s always lively work to a new generation of readers – while gathering Heskett’s work on economics and public policy for readers who already know the historian.”

 –  Ken Friedman, Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies at Tongji University, China

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“We should care passionately about the relationship between design and economic value. If good design has no or little obvious economic value then we are doomed to live in a world where everything from the built environment in which we live to the smart phone in our hand will be created without thought to its beauty, functionality and impact on us as users. Fortunately that is not the case and we all know intuitively that good design has value. This helps us to move beyond intuition and gives us the language to explore design in economic terms. In doing so it can help us to convince key decision-makers, whether in business or in public life, about this key and eternal relationship. Too often they seem programmed to forget!”

 –  Matthew Carmona, Professor of Planning and Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, UK

“We know the actual value of designs much better than we understand how designing creates value. John Heskett’s ground-breaking work and this book’s commentaries on it let us look more deeply at Design Thinking through various lenses from Economics, which in turn are refocused in the light of Design.” 

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–  Gilbert Cockton, Professor of Design Theory at Northumbria University, UK

“Design is often described as ‘mystical’, by proponents who see this as a positive creative quality, or ‘nebulous’, by those frustrated with its struggle to establish a firm disciplinary foundation. This book provides an important challenge to this by addressing the affirming relationship between design and economic value, articulating its reciprocal nature in terms of both theory and practice.” 

–  Lucy Montague, Senior Lecturer in Urban Design at the University of Huddersfield, UK

“As to the value of Design and the Creation of Value, it is profoundly pronounced and plentiful. For practitioners, the book lends substance to long-standing contentions. There is potential for designers to become conversant in the language of economics and to understand the derivation of its ideas. Greater still is the potential for design to transform the practice of its major patron.” 

–  Dialectic Journal

Design and the Creation of Value presents Heskett’s heavy lifting. He opens a door between the mutual isolation of economics and design … In these volatile times, the changing context in which design operates leaves us much to do. John Heskett’s book is a beginning-we must continue his work.”

 –  She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation

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