Jax Wechsler

Social Design talk by Doug Powell

Doug Powell has a long history of doing “good” design work.

He was former president of the AIGA, involved in setting up the Design for Good framework amongst other things.

I watched a presentation he gave to students at MICA Social Design and have noted down some of the points I found interesting. http://vimeo.com/88416645

1. Designers have EMPATHY. They make things for other people and are naturally empathetic. This is a valuable quality within organisations as it helps to bring people into decision-making. They solve problems in human ways. The role of the designer is chamging.

2. Some designers still want to work in a creative vacuum but they need to abandon this idea if they want to have impact and be involved with social design. Complex problems are not sold by a lone genius.

3. Design practitioners have become addicted to the consulting model but that model doesn’t work for social design projects as they need commitment and funding to make them happen. He notes a trend that a lot of designers are instead focusing on creating products. They have identified a need and they design solutions…and then take them out to the world themselves. The power is in their hands not their “clients”. A lot of these design projects are grounded in solving community problems. We need to think about what business models are more appropriate for social design.

4. He mentioned a few agencies such as Tomorrow Partners, Fire Belly, Greater Good Studios and CoLab are experimenting with new business models for social design. He believes that over the next 5-10 years Social Design will find its feet.

5. He talked about his new role at IBM where he is involved in their transformation to use design approaches more closely within their technology development to transform and shape the future. He believes that he will be able to impact social change through this new role. IBM has committed to opening design hubs all over the world. Read more about this



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