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bi-monthly bulletin of the International Council of Design

May 2021


snapshot of current issues in design for sustainability

Current issues

The pandemic might just be a precursor for a much more important global issue: that of environmental degradation, global warming and the disproportionate impacts of climate change on the world's human population. Designers are becoming increasingly aware of their role in some of the activities precipitating this, such as extraction of raw materials, production and manufacturing, transport of goods, rampant consumption and the management of waste streams.

Practically, what this has meant for well-intentioned designers trying to reduce their negative impacts on the planet, undergo a lot of trial and error, especially error. But as science advances, more is known about the interconnected flows involved in the overall lifecycle of designs, and better materials are developed; consumers are also better educated and legislation around lifecycle processes are more transparent. As such, designers are increasingly getting better at sustainable practice.

Here, we collect a current snapshot of article and reports charting the problems of production, consumption and the impact on the climate, as well as some of the recent developments in policy, product design as designers move towards a more circular economy.

See the story


Graphic Design for Development report

Historical documents

Held in 1987 in Nairobi, Kenya, the Graphic Design for Development report documents the Icograda/Africa Regional Working Group Seminar organised by Icograda on behalf of UNESCO and included Members representing Egypt, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Composed by Jorge Frascara, Amrik Kalsi and Peter Kneebone, the aim was information exchange and to foster the development of design and design education in the region. Topics in the report discuss many issues we face today: the need for a resurgence of Indigenous knowledge, bridge languages and dialects, and create educational design information based on local models. Overall the report registers the urgency to define and empower the African design identity and professionalism in each country, and to bring communities, governments and graphic designers into conversation.

A fascinating read!


Essam Abu Awad (1958-2021)

In Memoriam

It is with deep sadness that we honour the passing of our dear friend and colleague Essam Abu Awad (1958-2021). In addition to serving on the ICoD Executive Board (2019-2021) Essam was an inspired designer, advocate and educator of design in the Middle East.

Read more


The Polish Association of Designers (STGU)

New Member

ICoD is pleased to welcome New Member, Stowarzyszenie Twórców Grafiki Użytkowej (STGU) the association of Polish Graphic Designers. STGU is the oldest and largest design organisation in Poland, gathering design professionals from a variety of backgrounds.

Read more




Design competitions for new work, unremunerated crowd-sourcing initiatives and so-called 'challenges' like the 'Foodicons' challenge, seem to be proliferating. Designers earnestly wish to contribute their expertise to deserving causes but what passes for 'deserving' can sometimes be questionable. More importantly, managing these situations to ensure a professional treatment is tricky and often the line is crossed. Read the Council's position and objections to the 'design challenge' model and why we understand it to be exploitative of designers and not similar or equivalent to 'pro bono' work.

For more




This article from the Harvard Business Review proposes that Design Thinking is, at its core, a strategy to preserve and defend the status-quo. They posit that Design Thinking privileges the designer above the users and those impacted by the designs, therefore, limiting its capacity to approach challenges characterized by a high degree of uncertainty like climate change.

Read the article here




From Member Graphic Artists Guild (United States): "On April 5, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Google vs. Oracle. The court ruled 6-2 that Google’s copying of Oracle’s Java code fell under fair use, with Justices Thomas and Alito. The decision is a blow to creators and copyright holders, who fear that an overly broad interpretation of the fair use doctrine will render their copyrights meaningless."

Find out more about this decision


Social impact


This Communication Arts article entitled 'Social Conscience' talks about how designer Nupur Agarwal, creator of illustration picture book series Beyond Braille, merged her passions for design and inclusive products to provide better access for the low vision community.

Read the interview

postings + announcements

 typoday 2021: call for papers porto design biennale 2021: call for projects

ICoD Member events

JAGDA International Student Poster Award 2021 (JAGDA)

Diversify Design (INTI)

2021 Taiwan International Student Design (TISDC): Regenerate (Asia University)

2021 Design Intelligence Award (Zhejiang Modern Intelligence and Manufacturing Promotion Center)

The International Council of Design (ICoD) was founded as Icograda in 1963. The name changed in 2014 to reflect the Council's focus shift towards multidisciplinarity. ICoD Secretariat:

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