Welcome to DO22

Grant
Design Outlook
Published in
3 min readJun 14, 2022

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Design Outlook recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the unceded First peoples of the lands upon which we gather and pay our deepest respects to their Elders, whose wisdom and guidance, before, now and into the future, is so important for us to listen and learn from.

In 2020 Good Design Australia announced the relaunch of the Australian Design Council. The new council and its members plan to reshape the nation through a ‘design-led renaissance’ for Australia.

Shortly after their announcement, KA McKercher, Jo Szczepanska, and Emma Blomkamp published an open letter co-signed by a host of designers that called for new voices and ideas for design in Australia, underpinned by a principles-led approach. The Dear Design Council letter wonderfully articulates the need for better inclusion, representation, and partnership. Core to the letter is a need to design with and be led by people and communities.

And then the 2019 pandemic happened. The design-led renaissance, along with people and communities, were cast aside while we collectively coped with trauma in our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and garages.

As we emerge almost three years later, design as an industry is at a crossroads. The choices we now collectively make will define our industry and the world around us. Community, diversity, equity, and inclusion are more important than ever.

It is no accident that our festival focuses on community and features an enormous variety of perspectives, cultures, capabilities, and beliefs.

Our 2022 festival coincides with National Reconciliation Week, and we have an opportunity to make progress beyond conversations about reconciliation and into explicit action.

Building on strengthening relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples, Reconciliation Australia have developed a framework that should be a template for our work as settler-migrant designers.

The framework comprises five dimensions: Race Relations, Equality and Equity, Institutional Integrity, Historical Acceptance, and Unity. These five pillars are important for financial institutions, government services, consumer products and services, and healthcare alike to work towards.

Design can have a positive impact if it can commit to similar principles.

Beyond the inclusion of others, there lies the mammoth task of redesigning the world for digital transformation.

If 2010 to 2020 was the age of talking about transformation, then 2020 to 2030 is the age of acting on transformation. The 2019 pandemic rang a loud bell for government and industry to hear, and the message rang clear: you’re going too slow, hurry up.

The resulting digital rush, closed borders, tightening visa restrictions, and an already challenged talent marketplace has left many businesses exposed to challenges they are unprepared for. The demand for data, technology, change, and design skills is unprecedented, with more vacant positions than candidates in the market.

However, even if the access to talent wasn’t a real and present challenge, the harsh reality is that we’re just not equipped to seize the opportunity before us. We’re only just finding our feet.

And so, we created Design Outlook to celebrate, support, and grow our design community by taking an optimistic outlook toward our future and the impact design can have in changing the world.

Because if anyone will change this world it will be you. The creatives, the dreamers, the makers.

And for that, I’m so glad you’re here.

Note: A version of this essay was featured as the welcome letter in the conference program for Design Outlook’s inaugural conference, DO22. Thanks to Yoko Akama for support in editing this letter.

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