Where are you right now? Zoom out for a second. Further A little more... There!
A while ago someone asked me:
“What’s wrong with design?”
I wanted clarification…
“You mean, what could be improved?” “Yeah. Exactly. What does good design get wrong?”
They were asking me about the process of design, mostly — from engineering to product creation. But my answer I’ve since realised can (and should) be applied to graphic design, too.
Let me back up a bit.
When I asked where you were right now, perhaps I was a bit misleading... My real question is: Where are you right now, that everyone else is also?
Far from being a complex riddle, I’m trying to get you to picture planet Earth. Zoom out far enough, and we’re all in the same place. Perspective has taken over.
It’s because of this perspective that I always find myself thinking of ‘home’ as a much broader, worldly idea. It’s not ‘where the heart is’, nor the bed I sleep in. It’s not even a certain food or even a particular feeling. Home, to me, and a growing number of people, is our tiny place in space.
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but, we’re losing this place. Our strides in a more sustainable direction are not quite great enough, and bit by bit we’re eating away at a world than simply doesn’t have the capacity to keep up with our consumption.
And this is true across all disciplines.
So when I was asked:
“What’s wrong with design?”
“We don’t design for Home.”
I said this not because I think a lot of interior design is shit, but because the way we design (with graphic design included) doesn’t really feel of or for this world. So-called ‘sustainable’ design has its roots cut, left to die in the form of:
How many plants can we fit on a screen?
Can we make this green and that brown?
Doing something clever with a tree icon
And using three rotating arrows with such excess that we get genuinely dizzy
Even design that takes inspiration from the natural world, our home, feels a bit dead in the water. Ironically, it sometimes feels like we are too — but that’s a climate doom and gloom chat for another day.
And then I came across this:
Fred Galstaun, Sensiks’ Sensory Reality for Selfridges
Earthrise’s CHOOSE EARTH campaign
Intersectional Environmentalist partnerships with TAZO (left) and Atmos (right)
Dasha Plesen Collab with Haeckels
Stimulate (non) chicken nuggets site
What I’d found, through the help of the wonderful Nice and Serious, were highlights of design for our collective home. Projects that use biomimicry. Callbacks to retro 70s and the hay-day of loving the planet because it was ‘cool, dude’. And design that looks forward. Much further forward.
These were examples of a design world on the tipping point. There’s a turn to process, form and style that emulates something closer to the preservation of our world; admiration, protection of our world, and retaliation against design systems that harm it.
This wasn’t just imagery suited to its context. It spoke to me as ‘good design’ for a world that we’d like to continue calling home. Long, long into the future.
So, zoom back in. //////////////////// Further. //////////////////// A little more… //////////////////// You’re back where you’ve always been. Home.
I hope that this little run-down has given you a refreshed sense of sustainable design for protecting our ozone, that collective roof over our heads.
If it has:
We do not own the rights to any of the pictures in the article. All the rights go to the authors of the pictures.