Social Design: A Call to Action

Social Design is an imperative part of a sustainable future.

Image courtesy of Models of Impact

Since the 1980s, design has been intrinsically linked to capitalism. To many, design is worthless without direct economic impact. We’re now calling for that mentality to change.

The future will need us to push for social in everything we do. It needs us to rank social concerns ahead of economic concerns, to preserve the well-being of the Earth and its population.

Perhaps design of the future will demand something different. Perhaps design will be forced to prove social impact and that will be the criterion on which it is evaluated. Cue social design!

Imagine such a future!

Social Design, in its malleable definition, is inclusive and human-centered. Social Design elevates the capabilities of individuals and communities. It’s main goal is to contribute to human well-being and livelihood. Perhaps what excites me the most about Social Design is that it is all about co-design and empowering diverse stakeholders. It’s design’s optimistic side!

I’ve spoken to many of my design school peers who question the scalability of social design. I disagree. I would argue that social design can scale like other forms of design. It can be open-sourced and shared via distributed networks, for example. But perhaps we need to rethink our approaches to scalability. That’s our responsibility as designers, to tap into its potential and find new ways of disseminating our solutions.

Social Design will not be limited to common notions of social enterprise and social innovation. Social Design will infiltrate established institutions, workplaces and societies via our personal Trojan horses. Social Designers are like sleeper agents, just waiting to apply their hopes and ideas wherever they operate. Does this sound like you?

If you want to design for the well-being of the planet and humans everywhere, own the title of social designer and get to work. The world needs you now more than ever before.

image courtesy of Models of Impact