Your Role as a Designer to Do Good.
Design and Community
At Old School we believe that it is your responsiblity as a cultural producer to help make change for good in the world we inhabit. We know it is easier to achieve this collaboratively than alone, and we know that doing this will probably create a sense of satisfaction that you don’t achieve creating design for cars, coke, and clothes.
Have you thought about what it looks like when designers apply their creative and critical skills to a community context rather than a commercial one? Have you questioned how you as a cultural producer, armed with your weaponry of visual tricks and creative thinking skills, can help make people’s lives better? How can you help facilitate social engagement and build stronger communities and a kinder more caring world?
Yes, we are the “cultural producers” the ones who create messages or stories (through our art) that can move the masses, and affect behaviours of individuals, families, groups, and societies as a whole.How We Do This
We do this by producing artistic design. Artistic design is more than “pretty” and slick. Artistic design is design that actually touches people’s hearts because it is poetic and heartfelt. Artistic design is more challenging to create because it requires research, and deep thinking. It also requires that inner instinct that we have as designers, of being aware of the current visual zietgiest, meaning that our design message is current, and therefore engages audiences rather than being dismissed.
If creating positive social change is your agenda, then Old School is your kind of place, and you should seriously consider looking further at some of our modules
such as Can Design Touch Your Heart? Social Practice, and Placemaking. If you have design skills you can take these modules separately. You do not need to complete our whole program. The choice is yours. Some examples
By way of providing an example of what we mean, we would like to introduce you to a multidiscipline design consultancy in Melbourne that specialises in social engagement and development, creating community and doing good design called Village Well
Village Well (like us) believes that cohesive communities that are rich in social capital are more resilient to contemporary social ills, such as alcoholism, suicide, and general mental illness. They are socially active and create tangible change via awareness raising, and engaging members of the community to effect positive change, and have been doing this for 20 years. Just one of their many initiatves is the On the Edge Periculture event that looks at how to make food production really work on the edges of our major cities.
Another excellent example of design working effectively to make cities more comfortable, is done by Civic Centre
. Civic Centre says:
We believe that public spaces should inspire conversation, make the machinery of the city more accessible, and restore a sense of dignity to the public realm.
Civic’s agenda is worth quoting, and as you can see it is almost interchangeable with our’s in many points, such as telling stories, making tools, teaching, developing curricula. Nice.
We tell stories. Cities are full of people and stories. We ask questions and start public conversations. We promote participation of large audiences through thoughtful design.
We make the city easier to use. Our neighborhoods are complex systems, and government interaction can be downright intimidating. We develop tools to help people navigate bureaucracy, and we illustrate how laws, regulations, taxes, and delivery systems affect all of us. We also show how alternative systems might work better.
We help communities solve hard problems. Engaged citizens are an invaluable resource. We empower people with new information and original studies that help communities organize, make decisions, and influence their leaders. We conduct research, forecast economic scenarios, and develop analytical methods to improve the understanding of complex challenges faced by our communities.
We make tools for working together. Citizens can make a greater impact when they collaborate. We create web applications and design products that improve the quality of group communication and build trust among partners.
We develop curricula and teaching materials, conduct workshops, and give talks about making cities more comfortable for people.
We like to teach courses in design, cities, and history, and we work with academic institutions, public schools, community organizations, and local government.
If you continue on to look at some of their projects,
these are the sort of projects you can expect to work on in our “social design workshops” at Old School. Be sure to check them out they are simply brilliant! Note how the design skills come into play, and the success of the whole project rests on the sense of authority that the design visuals convey. The skilled execution and sophisticated use of type, colour, scale, layout and images are what the whole project rests upon. And that is where you come in.
This image is from their “Neighbourland Project”. Incepted first as a public art project, the project continued as an online tool “by collecting demand in places and bringing people together so the future of the community better reflects peoples’ desires today.”
The project worked to connect like minded residents and became a valuable tool for assessing what residents wanted and needed in different spaces within the city.
The Project was launced in 2011, and is currently being tested by Civic Centre to make real things happen. Do you see yourself working like this?
Can you do us a favour? We would love to hear from you with other examples of organisations in Melbourne who are “doing good” with design.
If you wish to see these images and more you can go to the original Old School link