A Manifesto For Social Responsibility

This is my own manifesto for social responsibility which I wrote as a responce to other design manifestos I have read, they started me thinking about my own views for how I want the work now and in the future. You may agree with some of my points, others you might not, but the purpose of sharing my manifesto is to encourage others to start thinking about their own responsibilities as a designer and discuss this with other people.

Here are some of the manifestos which inspired me:

The First Things First Manifesto
Starving For Ethics
Bauhaus Manifesto
Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules
Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Communicate truthfully

Design is a powerful tool in communicating an idea, and can easily be used to try and manipulate the viewer. As First Things First manifesto states, design is commonly seen as a tool to promote selling a product and generating a profit, rather than fairly communicating, informing, entertaining, expressing, educating or transforming. Communicating truthfully means being honest in your design, with sincere motives. Presenting the viewer with the truth and a element of reality.

Produce work to your best ability

Even though there is always more learning to do, produce work to the best standard that it can be. This is not only to approve skills but also to be accountable to the viewer and client. Design needs to be taken seriously and any project should be completed with a wholehearted view of the outcome and the work it is a part of. If this cannot be done, maybe there needs to be a questioning of the role in completing that work. If other people’s views, rights or health are at risk of being damaged by incomplete or low quality design, a better solution needs to be considered.

Consider others views & needs

Design never affects just one person; there are always multiple people involved in the process or who will be affected by the end outcome. This could include the designer, collaborative partners, the client or the audience. In any case other views should be considered and there should be some questioning or balance of motives. Focusing a design project mainly on clients needs could lead to work focused on raising profits or advertising which might unfairly pay a designer and convince audience they need something they dont really need. Or an audience based design project could lead more to community development or participation, but if the designer focuses on their own idea of the project the client could be badly represented.

Test it

There is always a purpose behind designing something and a designer should take responsibility to ensure that design is meeting those needs. Testing and gaining feedback in the creative process is very valuable step in communicate successfully. Should we test design to see if everyone thinks it is ‘good’? Or if everyone likes the fonts? This is probably a bit unrealistic, but maybe at the beginning of the project the designer needs to really highlight what the outcome needs to do, and create a test to make sure it meets these needs.

Create beauty

Beautiful design doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is just nice to look at, what exactly ‘beautiful design’ is can be debated and disagreed upon because it can be viewed in different ways. Often design which is strongly beneficial to basic human needs can be seen as beautiful, or design in which aesthetics and ethics and working together. During the modernist period their manifesto was focused on construction and building things that would benefit society through focusing on simple clean design and less on decoration from the art-deco period. Function can be beautiful but a balance between the two, and selection of function and aesthetic for each individual project needs.

Build up, don’t break down

Spend time creating design that will really benefit others or a particular audience, rather than continuing to build into consumerism and mass marketing advertising which focuses on financial growth and overconsumption. This might be more rewarding because you are finding a solution for a problem closer to your own community. Working with community groups or more local organisations will build up strong connections if done properly.

Question everything

This tip is often given to designers in design manifestos. I wanted to include it in mine because I think curiosity is important in my design practise to keep in touch with the things around me and society. Seeking just one thing in particular often leads to swaying too much one way; questioning everything helps keep a balanced view of my responsibility as a design and how they might change, the society around me and many other things that are relevant to design practise. It also means you are always learning and finding new things