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Design for Good

Design for Good

Have we created yet another silo allowing us to make excuses and behave badly

As mentioned on AIGA ‘s website— Design for Good is an ethos to use problem-solving and design thinking towards social change. … Design for Good recognizes the wide range of designers’ work and hands-on leadership and professional development opportunities, which benefit the worldour country, and our communities.

As mentioned on DesignLab 360 — Design for Good is any form of design work that aspires to better someone’s life. Design for Good is inclusive rather than exclusive. To be effective, our work must be timely and responsive, not just to a client deadline but say, to the urgency of a burgeoning epidemic. We are pragmatic as we are idealistic.

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And if that is the case then what is the function of design? What is the role of a designer? What is good? and, What is bad? What does Design for Good stand for? Most causes come out of a need, personal loss, or injustice. However, does something bad have to happen to you before you decide to do good?

Wherever we look, everyone is talking about it, ‘work on things that matter’, ‘use your power for good’… is it just fashionable to do good when it is convenient to you?

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So why do I care?

I care because as a creative human being I’m seeing so much anxietydissatisfactiondistrust, all around. There is so much negativity, finger pointing, fake news, entitlementone-up-nessspecial interest bragging. There is so much, look-at-me!selfie cultureself worthiness, going around. There is loneliness, mental instability, and pain in the superpowers and the developing world while there is sufferinginequality, and lack of freedom of speech, freedom to choose .

What kind of social system have we designed?

This looks broken…

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Richard Ting at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018

Richard Ting at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018

Richard Ting questioning the systems we currently have in place and the shift we all need to make

Why should you care?

As problem solvers and as human beings living in the current political climate, worldwide, we are seeing this…

• Everyone for themselves

• If you do not have the means, too bad, you are a loser and you caused it

• If it’s not happening in my backyard, its not happening to me

• If I do not acknowledge it, it’s not happening

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Human beings behave the way they live-

• If we believe in equality, we act equally.

• If we believe in diversity, we engage with a variety of people.

• If we believe in the freedom to choose? We support a women’s right to choose.

• If we believe in freedom of expression? We allow for different voices and agree to disagree.

Now if we dig deeper and look for the dictionary meaning of design-

design (noun) — a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation

design (verb) — to plan and make decisions about (something that is being built or created)

• Decision-Making is Design.

• This means that every decision we make is basically designed.

Design is not only visual, conceptual… it is also functional which means we are responsible for how people perceive messages, products, and pretty much everything they come in contact with. Whether the message is for a for profit enterprise or a cause or a social impact enterprise.

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So if we are saying that the message is the medium regardless of the sector we work in then are we doing a disservice by putting ‘design for good’ in a silo? Are we giving people an excuse to cop out?

I do not have money to do good. I need this job, I do not have time to focus on spending my design energy on designing for social impact. There are other do gooders who will step up. Our company has to accept paid projects, we cannot afford to take on pro bono clients, let the big agencies do that they have money and people. Do these sound like excuses?

Zita Cobb at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018

Zita Cobb at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018

Can we create a culture for good so that design for good does not have to be an afterthought or only to be ‘ taken on’ because you are a ‘nice’ person or a ‘wealthy person’. Each and every one of us is responsible for the world we live in, the systems we create, the infrastructure we benefit from, and the destruction our habits cause. So something for all of us to think about…

• if Design is problem solving and decision making

• and Good is goodness, morality, ethicalness, upstanding, integrity, dignity…

• then doesn’t Design for Good become problem solving with integrity, dignity, morality, for all of our human problems, not just social ones?

Todd Waterbury, Chief Creative Officer of Target, at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018

Todd Waterbury, Chief Creative Officer of Target, at the Design Observer Conference at Yale SOM in 2018