When design works with industry it tries to sell two things, first, selling design as an agent of transformation, and second, selling design as a skill. Whilst historically design has been successful in the latter, it is the former that is more challenging, making it a necessity for design to work in none design contexts in order to build trust and credibility. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the ways in which design interacts with industry, and how these interactions enable design to establish longer term relationships.
This investigation set out to answer the question, what design specific characteristics are applied to establish successful longer-term relationships between design and industry? The paper aims to illustrate the intrinsic factors that enable design to get access, and designers to get authority to play a significant role in organisations. Five well-established relationships between design and industry have been used to analyse to find correlations.
The investigation identifies three stages of collaboration between design and industry, namely, involvement, collaboration and partnerships, contrary to Cahill’s (1965) theoretical model, which claimed four stages to long lasting partnerships. Also, the case studies confirm three stages of trust and credibility as factors that help in strengthening a relationship between design and industry. Finally, several intrinsic factors that are unique to design have been identified, which are seen to have helped design in building high levels of trust and credibility.