Gianluca Cinquepalmi - Creating Valuable, Sustainable and Innovative Businesses

Gianluca Cinquepalmi - Creating Valuable, Sustainable and Innovative Businesses

Gianluca Cinquepalmi, Associate Chair of Communication Arts and Professor of Advertising and Graphic Design at SCAD Hong Kong (Savannah College of Art and Design). In more than ten years working in the Design & Branding Industry Gianluca has managed and developed award winning agencies in Milan, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Sydney. He is now devoted to educate & train talented students, companies and institutions in the ways of attaining sustainable growth through business design. As our Author of the Day, Cinquepalmi tells us about his book, Business Beyond Design.

Please give us a short introduction to what Business Beyond Design is about.

Business Beyond Design was born from the desire to share a different point of view, to illustrate a road map and to trigger the thinking process towards the creation of valuable, sustainable and innovative design businesses.

Good design might boost sales, but business-design builds culture, and that is what Business Beyond Design is about: creating, preserving, and innovating businesses through the means of business-design.

This book records my journey of how I researched and developed a new Business Design framework to help designers, creatives and entrepreneurs alike. With practical tools and a hands-on approach, I offer a fresh new look at how to think strategically, foster creativity and transform businesses.

What inspired you to write this book?

I couldn't explain better than one of my reviewer. "In the complicated world we live today where business searches for purpose, consumers yearn for experience, and creators strive for excellence, we have to approach business with a new perspective. The old systems are failing, and our new generations deserve more and a better way to look at business and design."


Why is this a book every prospective business owner should read?

I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I would say that anyone who was to compete in the modern age could benefit from this book. Like previously stated, I try to create a roadmap and trigger the thinking process on how to approach business in a different way. Is not a magic formula, but a model that, if embraced, will help, not necessarily find all the answers, but definitely start asking the right questions. The hard ones are the ones that no one likes to answer. This is a very solid reality check. I also give practical examples on how to answer those questions and how to use the model to your advantage.

You place design and business on equal footing. Why?

Historically, a business is IMPLEMENTED not really DESIGNED. The main difference from something that is implemented vs. something that is designed, is the outcome. When something is implemented, the outcome is known. When something is designed, the outcome is unknown, and the design process leads you to the solution. In the modern world, most of the outcomes are unknown, so the logical way (I would dare to say the only way) is to design our way towards that unknown.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

After more than ten years working in the Design & Branding industry, I now devote myself to Academia to create a true impact on our future generations. I educate and train talented students; companies and institutions in the ways of attaining sustainable growth through Business-Design. I love this position as it enables me to have true insights in the zeitgeist. I see what companies and institution are looking for and how new generations react to those requests. It is an extremely fascinating place to be. On a more personal note, I still love designing and creating products and brands. I have a great love of photography and would love to start experimenting with video.

Why is 'brand experience' so important?

Over the past several decades, we have shifted from an economy focused on industrial production, where the general public acknowledged the INTRINSIC value of a product, to a postmodern society where the general public acknowledge the SYMBOLIC value of a product. Such an economy is not based on rationality. It is based on personal desire, and desire means brand experience and status. We do not buy another pair of jeans because we need them, but because we want them -- most importantly how wearing them makes us feel, hence the experience of the product. In short, it is the results we crave, rather than the object per se. It is the experience of how some things will make us feel or look, and what they will enable us to achieve. It is the result we crave, not the object.


The book also covers the dark side of design - please tell us more about this.

Like I wrote in the foreword of the book, I often encounter companies and institutions that have a very cynical approach towards design and business, using design as a commodity rather than innovation. The dark side of design is what I call arbitrary design. To me, design is never cynical or arbitrary, and seeing it as such denies an essential aspect of a business' social and cultural value. We should never forget that a company is a social institution just as much as a financial one. Design has become a consumable service rather than being a highly regarded craft and a means of innovation. This relentless commoditization of design is what I defined as the dark side of design.

Why do so many creatives struggle to build a successful business?

Well, this is a complicated question and a controversial one. First, many creatives do have very successful businesses; sometimes I feel the statement that if you are a creative you are not good at business is a bit of a stereotypical comment. The simplistic answer is that many creatives are not interested in the operational component of business -- they are more interested in the "creation" part of the business. The complicated version of the answer is that most of the companies are joint efforts of different parts roles and responsibilities. There is a myth within the creative industry, which is lately amplified by the social media movement, that if you are creative, you can be a one-man band. That is far from reality. Like I said, a business is a social institution. If you want to be a self-employed creative at least, you have to recognize that you should wear different hats and develop different skills. I'm learning very quickly myself that writing a book and marketing a book are two very different beasts.

You have worked in the Design & Branding industry for more than ten years. How has this influenced your world view and your writing?

I was always fascinated about how much in the creative field sometimes the creative/strategy partner cares more for the brand or company than the entrepreneur or manager, so I think I developed this empathy for both sides design and business. I always coached my design team, and now students, to understand the business priorities and try to solve them through design solutions. I believe this is the key to bridging the cultural and philosophical gap between business and design.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope my readers will start questioning the status-quo and try to find a different perspective on Business-Design. I want to provide them a Model so they will have a roadmap to improve their view towards design and business.


Would you consider yourself a disciplined writer?

I tend to be a more disciplined writer when I'm on a deadline. I'm more interested in creating a content creation habit, whether it is writing, blogging or vlogging.

What are you working on right now?

I received a lot of feedback from my beta readers and my early readers, so I'm now working on Volume II of the series focusing on personal development. Hopefully, in a few months, we will do another launch.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I just launched my new author website; my readers can follow me at www.glc.liveand on Instagram @glclive.