(Ad)Venture(ous) Design

futurethink fuseproject

Businessweek recently ran an interview with Fuseproject’s Mitch Pergola. If you’re not familiar with it, Fuseproject is the award-winning industrial design shop founded by Yves Béhar in 1999.

Pergola, who handles the firm’s business strategy and development, discusses how he and Behar have applied design principles to the business itself, essentially redesigning the way an industrial design shop should function as an organization. When asked about his greatest accomplishment so far, Pergola answers:

“The biggest is building our somewhat unique business model. The main focus of Fuseproject is to do important game-changing design work, and everything else is there to support that effort. We like to reinvent things, including the way we do business.”

Fuseproject, you see, isn’t just a “creative agency.” The firm has a bit of a VC bent to it, in that it will provide its design services for a reduced rate in exchange for equity or royalties. This allows the company to “invest” by entering into early-stage design partnerships with those who may not have the resources to afford fuseproject’s traditional fees.

While the royalty-model isn’t completely new to the design world, Fuseproject’s strategy of turning three “knobs” (fees, equity, royalties) is quite different from the way in which many design shops approach their work.

What we can take away is that the concept of Design (with a capital D) can be applied not just to physical products or experiential services; it can be applied to businesses and organizations themselves. Today’s leading innovators know that nothing is outside the realm of possibility for their organizations, regardless of their industry. Who’s playbook can you take a page from?

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