Written by Erielle Tolentino
Before reading this, I encourage you to read Hatch Duo’s blog post highlighting design’s value from a designer’s perspective. Keeping that post in mind, we have ideas about how design can help from a business or branding standpoint. But as I listened to events during this year’s annual San Francisco Design Week, each designer emphasized this critical point that design can inevitably change the world.
I agree. I believe anyone can change the world. It’s about how we can all use our skill sets/what we are best at to improve humanity. We have already seen technology change the world in just a few year’s time. So, how do we continue this momentum?
I’m sure all of us have watched an episode or two of Shark Tank, and if there is anything one can take away from that show, it is that ideas can change lives for the better. People from all walks of life can think of a business or product idea that they believe can improve experiences as we know it
Improving Humanity Through Design
According to Dutch designer Babette Porcelijn, “The biggest human impact on the planet is the manufacture of new products.” It shows in the graph above, and she goes more in-depth with this in her TED talk, which you can watch here. She emphasizes that it is not the products itself that impact our world, but how they are made, and designers have the knowledge and skillsets to restructure this. Rather than thinking of ways in which you can solve just one problem, it is about thinking of the bigger picture. For example, how will the production of a product play a role in global warming? In a way, it is a design challenge and one I believe designers should into consideration in the design process.
To offer some perspective, Porcelijin also goes into great detail about the impact that just one product can have on the environment in her TED Talk. Here’s a question I’d like to ask designers: When designing products, are you thinking about the environmental impacts that will come as a result of manufacturing? If not, should you? These questions are not to say that your current thinking is right or wrong, but rather, a challenge to think above and beyond. Sometimes, while the idea is to improve one area (for example, UI/UX), it could be making things worse in another. I believe that designers can think about many different solutions when it comes to manufacturing a product, so why not think even greater?
What Is Your Purpose?
Is it to win awards? Recognition? Fame and fortune? Although I am relatively new to the design industry, and from an outsider’s perspective, I believe that designers, when passionate about what they do, have the power to design a future with equality and inclusion in mind. Sure, awards may be helpful along the way, but it should not be a designer’s number one priority. Think of it like this: if we don’t have a proper-running society, who are you designing for/why are you designing? With design challenges sprinkled throughout social media, witnessing firsthand how much thought and detail designers put into every project, or listening to the many events throughout SFDW, it is easy to see that designers are problem-solvers. They are forward-thinkers and confident communicators when it comes to their craft.
In some ways, each of us has a little bit of ‘design’ in us. Like designers, we can imagine what we want to see or how we want to feel, and based on that, we take action. And if it doesn’t reach our expectations, we rebuild. With this new 2020 route in terms of the Black Lives Matter Movement or COVID-19, it should ultimately inspire us to channel our “inner designer,” take action by serving humanity, and pushing it forward. Change does not come simply through a render, animation, or graphic (while it is a great starting point), but through bringing it to life. And at some point, we have to go beyond just imagining the change we want to see in the world.