DESIGN FOR CHANGE

Holly Kielty of Design Bridge re­flects on the value of good ideas in a fear­some world

Computer Arts - - Contents -

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

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