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How design can change the world

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Planet earth has dramatically changed in the last 50 years, and from a design perspective, we must adopt changes that go hand in hand with the conditions of the world we inhabit. Design is not the same in the context of a century ago, where resources were abundant and the population much smaller in numbers. Right now it is important to question how our way of designing should be approached.

Designers shape the world and they are responsible for the world they shape.

Demographic changes and the visible deterioration of our natural resources lead us to rethink our approach to creating any expression that uses design as a process to arrive at a result. Everything is designed, even what most people do not consider design for example technological developments, engineering, processes, and social issues such as public and education policies.

All these creations have different levels of impact on the earth, and if we see them as part of a whole, systemic and interdependent, they all have a consequence in the result and impact that we have in the world.

The evolution of design

The design profession needs to evolve. This must be present not only when we develop a product, brand or experience, on the contrary, it must also be constant and be periodically reviewed, optimized, and tested. As designers, we need to rethink and reevaluate each process and learn about new sustainability tools and methods.

In a short time, integrating circularity will not be an option but an obligation.

Feedback from design

Technology will allow us to have feedback on everything we design. What about what we design? Where materials come from, how is it used, how is it disposed, and what happens next? Can we know the life cycle of each product we design? Through technology, we will be able to achieve this with better precision over time.

Systemic design

As designers, the collaboration we have with other specialists is essential, to obtain a vision of the perspective from the outside and thus be able to evaluate the impact to return to the detail of the design. We must develop the skills to be specialists and generalists to understand the systems that surround each brand, product or experience that we create.

Circular design

Planet ce : design, produce and discard. We must evolve towards thinking about a circular economy. It is a change of thought that can start from the smallest things, from the selection of a material that has more possibility of recycling, to the design of a company that is completely circular from its conception.

Planet centered design

We must evolve from Design Thinking and human-centered design to Planet Center design where the needs of our planet are a priority or at least at the same level as people, companies and society.

Currently, this is not the case, where sustainability is considered at a final stage of the design process, and it is important to specify that 70% of the impact is defined in the early design stage. Design is never finished and can always be improved to have a minimum impact on the world.

“It is vital that all of us - designers and end-users - recognize our ecological responsibilities. Our survival depends on urgent attention to environmental issues, but even now there still seems to be a lack of motivation, a paralysis of will, to make the radical changes needed. “ Victor Papanek


By David Freyre

Partner and design director at Grupo ImasD.


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