The Interdisciplinary Design Approach

One of the latest buzzwords in the creative community seems to be interdisciplinary design. As I understand it, the need for graphic designers to wear many hats or take on a growing list of responsibilities has led to increased level of collaboration across design disciplines. While your professional title might be “illustrator,” your job description tends to be something like “illustrator-slash-copywriter” or “illustrator-slash-animator.” Sound familiar?  If so, you need to start implementing an interdisciplinary approach into your design thinking and workflow. One company that is already doing this is branding and design firm Greencard Creative. I caught up with CEO Tatiana Pagés to ask about what Greencard is doing to take their design work to the next level. Here’s what she had to say about the interdisciplinary design approach and how it can work for you.

Tatiana Pagés

Tatiana Pagés
credit: Mikey Kay

Tell me a little bit about your design background and Greencard Creative.

I have always been a visual thinker, an art collector, a lover and designer of product design, an object trouvé and sustainable artwear designer. I was also a faculty member for four years at the Altos de Chavon School of Design, which is affiliated with Parsons. I was Involved in arts and design in Chile, Barcelona, Dominican Republic and New York City. Greencard Creative was conceived as the place where I could use and combine my strong strategic skills (trained by P&G and Leo Burnett), designs and design thinking to help brands succeed and have a competitive and profitable start-up.

What is different about Greencard Creative compared to similar firms?

I haven’t heard of a company that has one team in the strategy and design territory doing branding, positioning, brand architecture, social responsibility brand movements and innovation. Strategy is at the core for powerful brand expressions using design and design thinking—nobody is in that arena.

Origomu Wearable Art

One of Greencard Creative’s newest lines is Origomu wearable art. Pagés used design thinking to come up the product.

What is an interdisciplinary approach to design?

Looking at many disciplines and categories at the same time; looking at a project beyond its category and using intersections. At Greencard Creative, we look at neuroscience, architecture, fashion, culture, design, art, artists, human behavior, astronomy, children’s books, education, trends around the world, inventions, sculpture, industrial design, engineering and museums, just to name a few areas.

How does this approach influence your design thinking?

Everything we do is about designing and communicating with people’s emotions and reasoning at the same time. The strategy breathes through the brand design.

Smirnoff Sorbet

In coming up with the concept for Smirnoff Sorbet, Greencard Creative drew upon not only the beverage category, but also the yogurt, dessert, and shaved ice categories. They looked at occasions such as brunch, happy hour, and other celebrations.

How has this way of design thinking helped Greencard Creative and its clients?

I just came back from Miami and won a new business pitch because I used design thinking in my presentation. We’re going to do strategy, brand architecture, branding, web design and all brand expression materials for a $5.6 billion company. This way of thinking makes Greencard unique in the way that we build brands and help our clients’ businesses. We’re experts at looking to the future.

How can others implement this approach?

Read about everything. Always be curious and become an artist in some way. Use brain plasticity to train yourself to be interdisciplinary and question all truths. If you look beyond the obvious to a place where nobody else is looking, you can uncover a newer, more powerful solution.

Origamu wearable art

Origamu wearable art
credit: Tomas Reyes

What kinds of results can be expected from this kind of design thinking?

Powerful, profitable, unique and respectful [results], since our process is so rigorous and creative at the same time.

Anything else you use to get the creative juices flowing?

We also look at toys for inspiration. I have a jewelry collection using squinkies, which is super fun and mind opening.


Want to increase your branding expert street credit? Check out Common Mistakes Designers Make with Branding (and How to Fix Them).