A big topic of conversation these days is the creative class in our society. There's a belief that creativity is the most valuable business product that America offers today. Authors have become obsessed about who the creative people are, where they live, how to better educate them, and how to introduce them to your daughter.
A large number of these people are on the tech side of things. We need these people so much that politicians are talking about how to import more of them and give them green cards before they reach their baggage.
Others are "content" creators, including authors, writers, illustrators, animators, Web people, game designers---as well as architects and engineers of all kinds.
One of the most important parts of the creative class is designers. Design has become a crucial part of everything everyone makes.
The obvious example is Apple. The designs of the iMac were captivating, and were followed up with the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and the MacAir. Design, including the intuitive way these products work and even feel, is why we know Dell, appreciate HP, but love Apple.
Advertising has rewarded creative people quite well since New York headhunter Judy Wald put art directors and copywriters on the star system. They've stayed well paid because without them, ad agencies would have nothing to sell or distinguish themselves.
But design improvements are everywhere. Compare interior design at Starbucks with local coffee shops. Compare some of the original things you can get on eBay with goods in a department store. Compare the Apple store with Radio Shack. Even the wine bottles and labels that look so impressively traditional have been designed to look that way.
Design helps brands look special, makes manufacturing more efficient, makes customers feel important and catered to, makes products more practical, and makes Web sites look contemporary and substantial.
Breakfast cereal in candy bars, yogurt in tubes, soup in microwavable cups --- design affects everything today.
Who would you rather work for, Apple or IBM? Welcome to the creative class.