Design innovation: historical and theoretical perspectives on product innovation by design (Inproceedings)

Mutlu, B. Design Innovation: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on Product Innovation by Design (Inproceedings). 5th European Academy of Design Conference, 2003.


The term ‘design innovation, ’ while not having a universally agreed upon definition, is increasingly used in the academic and professional design discourse, e.g. popular design magazines, academic journals, etc. for the last 10-15 years. Although the modern theory of innovation in economics has begun to refer to the practical relationship between design and innovation, and to emphasize the role of design in innovation process, it still appears to be inadequate in explaining this new conceptual and terminological expansion — the design innovation. This paper discusses the concept of ‘design innovation, ’ by unfolding the close relationship between design and innovation; design as the core function of innovation, and innovation as the main driving force in the economy. The paper relies on both an extensive review of innovation theory, and an empirical use of the term ‘design innovation ’ in the design industry. The elaboration of this new concept is considered to be vital since it contributes to the academic and professional discourse of design. Moreover, a conceptual and operational definition of ‘design innovation ’ will also provide the basic tools for design studies to claim a new, a more balanced model in the innovation theory, which is currently dominated by engineering-oriented discourses.


  title={Design innovation: Historical and theoretical perspectives on product innovation by design},
  author={Mutlu, Bilge and Er, Alpay},
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