Having returned from the agIDEAS conference in Melbourne, it is one phrase that resonates – ‘the future of civilisation is a common design problem’. Of course, I’m quoting David Berman, the Canadian graphic designer and author of Do Good Design. A staunch advocate of design and social responsibility, it is not David’s first visit to our shores and he has spoken all over the world on issues of ethics in design and how design can help to improve the human condition.
David asks of designers – ‘is this the best we have to offer? Are we using our skills in the best way? They are big questions but ones that can often be realised in simple ways. Like his ingeniously simple ‘eco font’ which uses 25% less ink and the principles can be applied to virtually any font. Or his ‘Do Good Pledge’ which asks designers to commit to (amongst other things) spending at least 10% of their professional time helping repair the world.
When arguing for designers to think more deeply about accessibility – David illustrated his point by reeling off a fairly routine list of afflictions and conditions. He also asked the audience to stand if they suffered from any of them. For example, do they wear glasses, have they broken a bone, are they colour blind, or do they have arthritis. Slowly but surely, at least 90% of the audience were standing. With an auditorium filled to capacity, this was a powerful statement about the fact that making design accessible is a common problem. It was quite clear that accessibility and disability are issues that don’t just affect a few people – they affect, or will affect, most of us at some point in our lives.
David urges us to start thinking about the quadruple bottom line and consider prosperity, the planet, people and design but the take home point was definitely – whilst there is a lot at stake, there has never been an easier time to get things done. With so much knowledge and technology and passion at our disposal – its time to, not just do good design, but do good. Designers, lead the way!
Wishing you a cosy and creative month of June,