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bi-monthly bulletin of the International Council of Design

May 2022


‘good’ design is rare


Many great designers have offered up their definitions of "good design". This term is most commonly defined as design that effectively achieves a purpose, usually a purpose defined by a client. But what if this purpose is at odds with the well-being of people? In this Polemic, the Council offers a definition from the perspective of professional integrity. We argue that if designers have a moral obligation to humankind, then only design that accounts for its social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts can be ‘good’ and that ‘good design’ by this definition is all-too-rare.

Read the full article


Pro bono prime

Pro bono primer

The conditions for working Pro Bono are not always clear. In fact, the Latin pro bono is often misunderstood to mean ‘for free’ when in fact, it means ‘for good,’ in contribution to a worthy cause. In this primer, we explain the conditions and nuance of professional Pro Bono, including a 'good cause' checklist and an infographic designed to help professional designers navigate working Pro Bono ethically. We set the terms for work that meets the criteria for good cause and underline how the working relationship between the designer and the recipient should be carefully determined, defined, and described in an agreement.

Read more


ICoD news

ICoD news

The Council introduces the newly-baptised Iridescent Network a para-Member network of entities that support and promote a vision of design that is inclusive, fair and equitable. The network of design weeks, biennales and other events, design museums, design cities and more, is dedicated to establishing and promoting standards and ethics in design exhibition, promotion and dissemination. The Iridescent Network creates a forum for sharing ideas and information, fostering discourse among participants and, with the Council, its Members and community.

For more




The fashion industry perpetually mixes existing ideas, often claiming to be inspired by other creative fields and epochs. The bounds of this are somewhat elastic but when luxury brands 'borrow' their inspiration from marginalised cultures, giving nothing back, not even credit, the starkness of the moral imbalance starts to become very obvious. This article explores how the creation of a textile design database can combat this, putting copyrights in the hands of the original craftspeople. Founded on the principles of consent, credit and compensation, this initiative explores how to rectify this asymmetry and give back to the cultures that are fountains of inspiration for fashion designers.

Read about it here




As speculative design competitions (spec competitions) become more and more common in the design world, they become normalised and can eventually be overlooked. However, spec competitions expose designers to negative and exploitative consequences that not only undervalues designers but the profession as a whole. In response to the continuous rise of spec competitions, the Council created a video primer outlining what exactly defines a spec competition and why we believe them to be exploitative and unfair, serving as a resource on the subject that you can share with your organisation, students and community.

See the video


Industry news

Industry news

This article questions the narrow definition of sustainable as pertaining strictly to some environmental indicators, leaving out the issue of social equity entirely. Campaigners argue that ensuring workers are paid a fair wage is actually key in order for the industry to tackle its environmental footprint. “Paying a living wage is the fastest way to actually [achieve] the fashion industry’s climate pledges,” Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO of non-profit Remake, explains. “The reason you can overproduce and create garments in such a disposable manner is by paying sweatshop wages and not a living wage. If we were to mandate living wages, you would [also] be tackling fashion’s consumption problem.”

Read the article



New Member

Hiiibrand is an international platform for creative exchange not only in China but also for groups and individuals around the world who are interested in design. Since 2010, Hiiibrand has successfully hosted over 30 professional international competitions and has attracted over 30,000 people from more than 100 countries and regions. Participants come from various creative fields including identity design and branding, children’s books, illustration, typography, product design and photography. The Hiiibrand International Brand Design Award, now in its 12th iteration, has been supported as part of ICoD's event programme since 2012 and we are pleased to welcome them as a new Promotional Member.

See the feature


identifying professional design

On design

Not all who proffer "design services" are in fact, professional designers. The Council's updated website has a new section called On Design that takes a closer look at design, designing, and professional designers. In this piece, we strive to make the distinction between someone who offers "design" services and a professional designer. In a concise list, we outline the factors that can help users evaluate a potential provider of design services—mainly, whether you are working with a professional, or not.

For more


Professional practice

Professional practice

When graphic designer, Emma Bers posted her 'Freelance Graphic Design Wage Transparency Spreadsheet' to her personal Instagram account, she did not expect the spreadsheet to go global (180 entries as of writing) or to receive 15K likes on her post. The first step in negotiating a fair salary, or hourly fee, for freelance work is to know what the going rates for design services are. She is also not the only one to have done this. Here AIGA—the largest professional association for graphic design in the United States—discusses the impacts and importance of their own wage survey.

For more


Design forum

Design forum

On 14 October 2022, the city of Kaunas, European Capital of Culture, invites you to participate in their International Forum of Design Networks, an event with the theme ‘Human City Grid’. Design plays an integral part in making urban living more satisfying. In an event bringing together the international networks of various European organisations and ICoD, they will explore the ways in which cities can harness design to improve the lives of their citizens: how government can use design to improve services, how design can help to navigate and inform, how design helps to create community.

Link to the pdf


Design history

Talking design

This year for International Design Day, we had multiple events, in two languages, over various time zones. Around this year's theme Suspended in Transition members of the Secretariat staff moderated sessions with organisations of different types in four regions: Asia and Australia, Africa, Europe and the Americas (in Spanish). We reflected on and discussed the shifting state of contemporary design via Instagram Lives, which are permanently archived in both the @theicod and @internationaldesignday instagram accounts. For a full recap of the participants and links to the videos, see the article on our website.

Link to website

postings + announcements

career centre career centre career centre career centre

ICoD Member events

2022 International Busan Design Award (IBDA)

Exhibition: 09 to 12 June 2022
Design Council Busan

2022 Taiwan International Student Design Competition (TISDC)

Submissions: 01 June to 15 July 2022
Asia University

JAGDA International Student Poster Award 2022

Submissions: 01 May to 31 July 2022
Japan Graphic Designers Association Inc. (JAGDA)

DIA Design Intelligence Award

Deadline: 08 July 2022
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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