Carrefour’s Global VP of Design about branding, design and innovation


The slide says : "It's not the consumer who does change with the time, but He changes the time"

Yesterday, the Design & Innovation club of the ESSCA-Alumni invited Philippe Picaud, VP of Design of the world’s second-largest retailer Carrefour, to speak about his experience and the role of design in corporate strategy. The speaker is learned designer, and highlights that “in the 70’s, designers were not meant to stay within corporation“. He did. He took on more and more design responsabilities in companies such as Texas Instruments, Philips or the French sports retailer Decathlon, which he morphed “from a retail-company to a brands-company“. It’s his fault if Decathlon is the only credible and innovative sports vendors in France! 😉

When we asked innovation consultancies how to position the brands we would create, they all told us “innovate like Nike” or “design as Adidas”. But we wanted to stand out and create something different !

He recently switched to Carrefour, as “sole designer in a company of 500,000+ people“. The ambition of the brand (we don’t speak retailer, we speak brand here) is to become the consumers’ preferred retailing brand. He acknowledges that retail has often been lagging behind the evolutions of society : look how hard it is for them to associate the web to physical distribution… He therefore praises Carrefour’s move to use design to leverage brand equity and create value.


Philippe Picaud’s vision of design is pragmatic and cristal-clear : “I don’t see design somewhere else than in the company, because design is a process“, he says. But what about the opening of the design-process ?  M. Picaud spoke about Frog Design (and its founder Hartmut Esslinger), for instance… what about FrogMob ?


Since design is a very diverse field, opening the design process is not a threat for designers, it’s more an opportunity“, he responded. Agencies like Frog Design or Ideo have to position themselves on innovation, nowadays, because “without innovation, you’re in China!, said one of France’s most pragmatic designers. To innovate, you need people’s input, and therefore building innovation communities like FrogMob or OpenIdeo is a savvy – if not necessary – move. “I used to see this as a threat for design, but it isn’t the case anymore“, he said yesterday.

A special thanks to Tiphaine from Dici Design and Raphaël from Art Feels Good for having set up the event !

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