Activist design. It’s possible
Article for online trends magazine TheTrendNet
The intimate relationship between design and the business world makes the former a tool for communicating commercial values. It’s hard to find graphic design studios that devote their work to carrying out projects based on social critique and commitment because, as reported in El País on 24/07/2008: “If a graphic designer has deep social worries, can he transmit them through his work? Obviously not, unless he wants to lose all his projects”. However, that same report already singled out some names, like the Madrid studio Un mundo feliz, which had just published an anthology of activist design work, Pictopía.
In fact, now that we’re just a few months from the end of the first decade of the 21st century, now that the world has become smaller and we (almost) all work online, now that there are still a surplus of problems that should be denounced urgently, now that we know that pretence is true and the truth pretence, now that we are finally surfing in the age of image… now more than ever one should support activist design.
The Migrants project, which came about thanks to the social phenomenon of globalization and mobility, is a clear example of how design can be an agent of social change. Its pictograms articulate and show us the experiences of immigrant women in cities, through images created from drawings produced by the migrants themselves in a workshop. When these pictograms become part of an urban action and occupy the space normally occupied by advertisements, the force of the message is duplicated. They’ve already done this in Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Seville, Buenos Aires… and the result has always been highly effective.
But there are other examples, and what we’d like to do here is to use this post as a point of diffusion, not just to confirm that it’s possible to change the world a little through design, but that it’s possible to do committed activist design. It’s your turn.