Meaning-Centred Design

Tuesday 21/05/2013 14:00 - 15:00
Location: Brunel University, Lecture Center, Room LC062
Speaker: Precipice Design: Julie Jenson Bennett (CEO) and Sarah Clark (Design Manager)

The creation and launch of a new product or device requires a large investment of money, time and trust from an organization. Only the most robust of processes and methodologies can be trusted, but even the long established methods of user-centered design and focus group testing can fail to deliver products that actually perform in the marketplace. How do you create genuine innovation and differentiation in product design, when it is not you but the consumer that ultimately gets to decide the success or failure of not only your product but also of the brand. Meaning-centered design takes a different take on familiar questions in order to create new products that resonate within the cultural landscape. With 95% of all thoughts remaining subconscious it is important to tap into the implicit needs and desires of consumers and their often unspoken cultural assumptions. Only by understanding the established cultural codes and conversations of the market is it possible to understand how to blend, borrow and break established meanings allowing the development of truly differentiated and innovative product solutions that resonate within popular culture and create traction in the marketplace whether in the current day, or projecting further into the future.

Precipice Design ( is a strategic design consultancy working across products, packaging, branding, interactive and environments. Launched in 2010 to champion a better way; meaning-centered design, dealing with the emotional, cultural, symbolic and commercial value of stuff. It helps people design better and helps organisations make better decisions about design. Precipice methods collide cultural theory with algorithms, design with behavioural economics, psychology with neuroscience. It takes a pretty special team to translate this all back into plain English and elegant design.

Julie Jenson Bennett, CEO at Precipice Design, is a designer researcher and business manager with 20 years experience spanning internal start-ups at Intel Corporation to creative consulting with brands like Coke, Ford, Nokia and Novartis.

Sarah Clark graduated with first class honours in Design for Industry, before spending four years at product design consultancy PDD, and three years working across product, research and strategy within branding consultancy 1HQ. Sarah's skills bridge research and design covering semiotic cultural analysis, trends foresight, and user-centred research as well as industrial design.