Thursday, 7 March 2013

Saving the world, one design (indaba) at a time

Pentagram partner and graphic designer, New York, Paula Scher is renowned for her map designs

The Design this year was about more than showcasing designs, it was also about initiating social change through design.

The speakers at this week's Design Indaba made many important statements regarding the role of design the future of the world's economy.

The interactive designer Jeanne van Heeswijk from the Netherlands urged listeners to think about how they can collectively re-imagine our daily environment with all its complexities. She works to empower communities to co-produce their own future by improving neighborhoods and saving their cultures before urban planning take over without considering embedded culture in underprivileged areas. 

If communities are taught how to improve their own surrounding environment they initiate their own change. This harvests a social responsibility among people who are normally dependent on benefactors to bring relief.

Can design then save the world? The design strategist Michael Grigoriev asked this question during his speech to which he also provided his answer: that collectively we are more intelligent, shared knowledge is better than any single expert.

 He questions how the ideal environment can be created to source that knowledge and tackle the problems we face in our time."Design should not be afraid to tackle messy problems". He urges designers to start engaging with social problems to bring upliftment and meaningful change.

Hearing what these hopeful design intellectuals have to say about the potential that design holds to empower communities, South Africa's National Development Plan should take this into strong consideration. The NDP should aim at improving art, design subjects, math and science at schools to lay the building bricks at an early age.

Art has been used throughout the ages to uplift moral among citizens. It is no different now. Designers shouldn't be afraid to get down and dirty, change isn't just up to the economists and political leaders, to bring change our country needs creative thinkers and willing 'teachers'.The Design Indaba proved what designers are capable of and what can still be achieved in the future. Humanizing design will push people beyond the material boundaries of design, it is now a way to uplift the planet and its inhabitants, to bring hope to the hopeless.

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