Creative Pool:

Innovation in the Trump era


As the US learned of a new Republican era, Creative Pool interviewed a number of creatives on what a Trump presidency will mean for their industry. This group of optimists and explorers shared their predictions on the challenge of innovating in a divided nation.

Smart’s Director of Design, Stephanie Yung, observes two points that designers need to consider. Her perspective is that the most compelling innovation could arise from these new constraints. Anticipating a cut in government-led innovation, she suggested that designers would need to work even more closely with private enterprise to generate solutions for the underserved.  

“The first point is around economics. We may need to be prepared for caution from clients. Demand might shift, as clients become risk averse if we enter economic instability. There may also be little government support for cutting-edge innovation. Trump’s rhetoric is reactionary and isolationist – so this could mean that the Presidency won’t be open to forward thinking innovation. But from constraint, comes the most compelling innovation. History shows that the best innovation and creativity is often sparked in the most troubled of times. The sharing economy was really invented during the banking and credit crisis. Designers and innovators are used to working within limitations and constraints in each challenge – whether that be by the market, their clients or something else. Designers are optimists, and see opportunity and solution in these sorts of situations – perhaps the best could arise from this divided time?”

“The second point is around the make up of designers and innovators and their teams. Trump has made his views on immigration very clear and also hasn’t made any explicit statements on where he stands on important education initiatives. If both of these result in policy changes the diversity of voices and talent within design teams could be diminished. For those working on design projects, an inclusive design mindset will be crucial. The result of the election was clearly a shock to many, much like Brexit. Designers and innovators will need to be even more aware of the possible implicit bias that they might bring to each challenge or project. Designers and innovators should also feel compelled and obligated to even further emphasise the principles of our craft – from inclusive design, human-centred design, to creating empathy for the user or consumer. Then cultivate that in the next generation of the industry. Solutions created need to serve both the people who feel they’ve been heard and those that feel they haven’t – today and in the future.”

Others point out that there is a creative boom on the horizon, and the focus of creative industries might go in the opposite direction of Trump’s political policies. Stephanie urges designers to remain focused on the principles of human-centered design, and continually watch for implicit bias in their initiatives. In this uncertain era, an inclusive and solution-focused mindset is crucial for creativity to thrive.

Read more on how designers and creatives are planning to find a way forward together.

Photo: The Associated Press/Jae C. Hong

Nov 2016