Business expert Professor Dr. Peter Zec during his presentation “Return on Ideas – Better by Design”


“Return on Ideas – Better by design”: Professor Dr. Peter Zec speaks at the ROTONDA Business Club

Last Wednesday, the ROTONDA Business Club in Cologne served as a meeting point for senior managers and entrepreneurs from all business sectors. Design and business expert Professor Dr. Peter Zec held his presentation “Return on Ideas – Better by design” to a full house, followed by a lively discussion with the audience.


The main message of the talk: “Design serves to give form to good ideas and is indispensable in distinguishing oneself on the global market”. Zec moreover stated that “Design is of extraordinary importance for the economic success of a company. Luckily, many companies have come to realize this—a progress that can be credited in part to the increasing prominence of design competitions such as the red dot design award”. Referring to case studies, Prof. Zec showed that most businesses belong to one of two types: companies that have recognized the added value they can gain through design, and companies who continue trying to forgo the integration of design, and who eventually fail on an international level for that reason.

In the past, many good ideas became successful only through design. “The best idea is useless if it isn't well executed”, according to Zec. As an example he mentioned the Apple iPod: The idea of offering music files in a portable form was not new. Yet it wasn't until the idea was realized with the groundbreaking design of lead designer Jonathan Ive and the bold strategy of CEO Steve Jobs that it became a worldwide success. This confirms, so Zec, that “investing in innovative ideas pays”.

However, selling good design relies on the appropriate and targeted communication of the design concept. “Good communication is indispensable for business. Often, good design is not even recognized because it doesn't speak the language of the entrepreneurs. Thus, a design concept only sells if it is well formulated. For that to happen, the concept must plan for as much integrative communication as possible in addition to ensuring that design factors into all decisive company processes. “In order to promote company awareness for design, the red dot design award selects one 'red dot: design team of the year' every year”, explained Prof. Zec. The title of “design team of the year” is highly coveted in the design profession throughout the world and has been issued since 1989 to design teams who have stood out for continually innovative design work that significantly increased the market value of their company's products. Among former recipients of the “design team of the year” award are renowned companies such as BMW, LG, adidas, Pininfarina, Nokia, Apple, Festo, and Sony.

Peter Zec has been active as a communication and design consultant for over 20 years for numerous German and international companies and, as a solicited speaker, has given presentations in more than 30 countries. The initiator of the red dot design award and senator of Icsid (International Council for Societies of Industrial Design) is also a seasoned veteran of the German and international design scene and has authored many articles and publications. In 2006, WirtschaftsWoche, a leading business magazine in Germany, chose Zec as one of the “20 most innovative and unconventional thinkers who changed the face of their company or who created completely new markets.”