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quarterly bulletin of the International Council of Design
International Design Day 2024
What if designers first asked, is it kind? We have many metrics by which to judge the value of a design. Will it sell well? Is it sustainable? Is it innovative? Culturally relevant? But we don’t always have the reflex to ask ourselves… does it make the world (even a little) better? What if the measure of design was how well it cared for people and relationships rather than how profitable it was? What if the premise of design practice was to lead with kindness?
In his book Designs for the Pluriverse (Duke University Press 2018) Colombian-American anthropologist Arturo Escobar reimagines design as a cultural tool for “making new worlds”. This new vision of theory and practice provides seminal thinking for understanding how design is embedded in history, and also part of a future of world-making and world-building. Arguing that the contemporary crisis is due to entrenched ways of being, knowing and doing, Escobar proposes a "transitional design" based on human experiences, place-based collaborations and relational modes of being. For designers seeking to reshape design as a profession that upholds autonomy, social justice, and ecological care, the book is an important guide.
ICoD was recently mentioned in Readymag’s report about how design organisations "support, educate and unite worldwide creatives." The report found that 25.9% of creatives participate in a formal design organisation, and outlined how such a collaboration helps to shape the industry by boosting designers' careers (especially youth) and advocating for diversity and inclusion. ICoD was listed among some of its Members, including The One Club for Creativity and designaustria, AIGA and BEDA.
What does “humanity” mean when it comes to designing? How do capitalist logics get in the way of human impulses of compassion, fairness and kindness? Is there hope? This Polemic examines the idea of humanity in design. We examine the dilemma between right to life, duty of care, and professional standards of codes and ethics in light of competing business models and their differing sets of rewards. We argue that, despite historic flaws, the profession of design intrinsically works to better the lives of all humans. Designers are in an exciting place of evolution of the profession and grass-roots organisations and activist designers have proliferated, such as Design Emergency, Slow Factory, The Digital Ethics Compass, and more.
"They are all easily fixed – door alcoves, rounded tables and visual alarm systems solve the three problems outlined above at a swoop – and yet we encounter them over and over." Designer and architect Chris Laing talks about making public spaces more accessible for people with hearing disabilities, advocating for including more deaf people in the process of designing inclusive spaces. Sometimes the changes required are as simple as awareness of the elements of the sensory reach, mobility and proximity, light and colour, and acoustics for a deaf person and making the suited adjustments.
AI global survey
From generative AI's potential to workforce cuts and reskilling, the McKinsey Global Survey on the current state of AI confirms the explosive growth of generative AI (gen AI) tools. The key points suggest it's early days still, but the use of gen AI is already widespread; leading companies are already ahead with gen AI; AI-related talent needs shift, and AI’s workforce effects are expected to be substantial; with all eyes on gen AI, AI adoption and impact remain steady; as well as more about the research itself.
Working at the intersection of climate justice, culture, science, design and art, Slow Factory is an online platform connecting systems change projects by young and diverse activists across a range of fields. With a vast Instagram following (over 500k followers) their programmes are radically shifting the narrative. As radical models: Media Justice is a campaign working to visibilise crimes against humanity; Garment to Garment prototypes design for disassembly and rethinking supply chain innovation; and their Fellowship programme commissions research and articles on pressing issues that inform their systemic change work.
AI and design ethics
The global labour force of outsourced and contract workers are among the earliest adopters of generative AI — while also being the most at risk. Rest of World spoke to outsourced workers from different industries and regions, including call centre operators in Manila, programmers in Lahore, and designers in Cairo. Many reported already seeing generative AI alter demand and the stability of their income. With some bracing for layoffs or diminishing commissions, others have embraced generative AI tools in an effort to keep ahead of the curve.
The International Council of Design
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