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The role of design in society
24 January 2022     1213

The role of design in society

We have already talked about Ethics in design, Ethical principles and Design philosophy (Per Gale). Here are excerpts from Ryan Gibbons article:


The graphic design ethos has long been misunderstood as a link between buyers and suppliers. Over the past century, graphic designers have worked and advertised products and services that they neither use nor believe in. In some cases, designers, with their own charming phrases and expressions, contribute to over-consumption and the accumulation of huge waste. However, some designers are already starting to think about what content design they are doing and whether it fits their personal and professional ethical standards. With their talent for combining ideas, problem solving and strong communication skills, they have the opportunity to use all of this to better understand the cultural and social needs of the world. Instead of simply selling a product, graphic designers are now, more than ever, using these skills to make a positive impact on society, locally or globally.


Valuable, and in a word, a good design idea is not really a new concept. With the passage of generations, "good" design was written and considered in essays, books, and even manifestos. When Ken Gerland released his "First things first" manifesto in London in 1964, his goal was to refocus design as a field to bring it to a more valuable level in society. He attacked consumerist culture and the lack of critical thinking. The designers and artists who signed this manifesto protested against the idea that the design was neutral; They think he should contribute to the society instead of taking things from it. By this time many viewed design as a consumer tool and neglected the power of its public transformation.


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Returning to the main question, what can be considered a good design? The answer to this question lies in the many aspects that enable non-designers to better understand the content of their day-to-day work in this area and how positive changes can be made with this information. The process is much more complicated than, say, brochure design for nonprofits. It includes elements such as problem identification, detailed description of goals and audience, immersion in research, introduction of design strategy and general collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving. Such an attitude towards design should not be considered as one of the charities, it is an important way of contributing to local, national and global well-being.


With a strong foundation and understanding, designers have the opportunity to become professional storytellers for the user (by creating a variety of materials). In the past, commercial designers who worked on corporate advertising ignored the general impact of projects (portfolio was the main target). Today, this work is not only relevant, but some agencies are directly looking for designers for this purpose. Most novice designers have no choice but to focus on their own content, so they focus on freelance work. Instead of making designs only for non-commercial or charitable companies, now designers have switched to improving their own neighborhood (it does not matter if we mean a specific area, country or world). By doing work that is personal to a certain level, designers better master the communicative role.


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Designers, with their own creative skills, have a tremendous opportunity to transform society in the wake of their own power. Power comes with its own responsibilities to society, nature and the design environment ... What it means to be a designer depends directly on the designers. Therefore, we, too, have to decide how to advertise our profession and skills in relation to that profession.


To summarize, every designer, be it a student or a teacher, should be well aware of what activities he / she devotes to his / her time. By devoting time to reflection, designers can refine their own power and focus their efforts on positive actions; It does not matter if the aid to Haiti is to provide clean water or to share public safety information with its neighbors. If we no longer look at design as a medium of expression of arrogance and instead we can have an impact on our local, national and global environment. Understanding that we have the means to improve the lives of those around us is a necessary part of any designer set.

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(Excerpts from Ryan Gibboneys article Wicked World of Ethics in Graphic Design)

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