DESIGN FOR CHANGE
Holly Kielty of Design Bridge reflects on the value of good ideas in a fearsome world
Holly Kielty on why good ideas are more important than ever today
Today’s world is angry. This anger is borne from fear, fatigue and disappointment. In a world where we vote with clicks, where news may be fake, and where political confusion is rife, it’s tempting to remain in our echo chamber, reading the articles that parallel our own point of view, burying our heads in aesthetic niceties. But this may be dangerous.
For as we have seen in recent years, fear tends to prompt poor decision-making. And we as designers must strive to override fear and be braver in our choices. After all, we are co-curating what people see. We have a responsibility to push boundaries and create a visual world that’s driven by positivity, freedom and confidence. Take Made Thought’s collaboration with lobbying group A Plastic Planet to create a graphic device that marks products as plastic-free, encouraging consumers to consider what they’re purchasing. Or Christopher Bailey’s beautiful rainbow-embracing print for Burberry, paraded in his final collection as a tribute to the LGBT world that’s inspired him. You have to see it to be it, and if we want a better world, visibility is key.
Yes, there are always budget constraints or commercial demands, and I’m not suggesting that every brief is an opportunity for protest or dissent. But as designers we need to see beyond our bubble and be more conscious of the wider world. It’s all too easy to stick to our own societal patterns, ticking the boxes of our peers, sticking to the tried-and-tested. But by doing this we’re giving the green light to the kind of monotony in which apathy begins to thrive and create a dangerous vacuum, waiting to be filled by bigotry and hate. Ideas that truly matter are different to the norm. They are the ideas that change perspectives or open a door to another world. They linger with you because they have raised questions or changed your mood or behaviour. In a world where lies can be printed on the sides of buses, never has the truly good (in every sense of the word) idea been so vital.
A brave idea may be deemed ugly or controversial, but if it provokes debate, it can provoke change. In our recent campaign promoting Design Bridge’s Dog’s Bollocks Student Awards competition, we aimed to raise questions rather than answer them. We want our entrants to express their real beliefs in meaningful ways, at a time when so many platforms for self-expression are being used dishonestly.
Graphic design often mirrors societal mood, but we can change that mood. To do so, we have to be bolder and more liberated. Let’s astonish, provide escapism and prompt new thinking. Let’s imagine, and create, a better world. Because now is the time to be the noise, not the echo. Is the design world an echo chamber? What can we do to change that? Tweet your thoughts @ComputerArts using #DesignMatters