Reconstructed production landscapes in the postmodern city: applied design and creative services in the metropolitan core

TitleReconstructed production landscapes in the postmodern city: applied design and creative services in the metropolitan core
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsHutton, TA
JournalUrban Geography
Volume21
Pagination285–317
Abstract

Applied design and creative services are central to the formation of metropolitan landscapes and urban culture (both in historical and contemporary contexts), as well as to the production of the full range of industrial and consumer goods. More specifically, applied design firms are essential to the development of advanced industrial systems, and facilitate the operation of flexible production regimes by (1) enabling production differentiation in segmented markets, (2) improving productivity, (3) promoting production synergies, (4) enhancing short-run customized production, and (5) contributing to the condensing of longer-run style cycles. A case study of design and creative services firms in Vancouver discloses that such firms exhibit important commonalities with other producer services industries (e.g., intermediate market orientation, clustering propensity, divisions of labor). At the same time, firms engaged in the production of design may be differentiated from “mainstream” business or corporate service firms in terms of (1)location and milieu, with a clear affinity for the CBD fringe and inner city, rather than the CBD proper; (2)function, with an emphasis on creativity as both raison d'etre and operating characteristic; and (3)services-goods interface (design services are not “arms length” from goods production, like most business services, but are directly concerned with the style, configuration, and identity of end products). Finally, the clustering of design and creative service firms exemplifies the “internal specialization of the production spaces of the large metropolis” (Scott, 1988), although empirical evidence from the Vancouver case asserts the significance of sociocultural, as well as economic, features of agglomeration.