What is it that designers talk about as mattering in their professional competencies? In this article, we empirically investigated industrial designers’ own assumptions on their design practice in relation to innovation. In applying a method potentially suitable for design research, interview statements from design professionals (n=17) were categorised according to 12 pre-selected categories of potential design core competencies. Of a total of 2,267 statements, 1,990 were classified as related to design competence. A qualitative classification of the statements revealed that 1,259 (63.3%) of these could be classified under the pre-set categories. The results showed that out of the 12 categories, ‘creativity’, ‘particular design methods and techniques’ and ‘user’ were emphasised. From the remaining statements, two additional categories were revealed: ‘teamwork’ and ‘project management’. These results can be used to reveal design professionals’ self-understanding of their contributions to innovation processes.
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