2018 will be all about confrontation for the creative industries. Successful design practitioners will have to confront the global issues that are becoming increasingly difficult for society to ignore. Many of these challenges have begun to be addressed already, such as political turmoil, cultural barriers, sustainability, and housing. They will continue into the new year with greater focus.
As designers, we need to continue to confront these difficult issues and to be advocates for positive change. To enable this, we need to work in partnership with other change makers to keep pushing proactively, and have the vision to address the big problems.
In recent times, we have seen greater levels of social engagement at a global level, and there are numerous examples of design being used as a tool for positive change. New media, communication tools and also more varied and accessible routes to market have facilitated this. Platforms such as crowd funding enable designers to get powerful ideas in front of larger, more diverse audiences without the need to engage with corporations.
However, having said that, it is still difficult to initiate real behavioural shifts in both individuals and communities. Getting new, game-changing products absorbed into mass culture in a seamless way remains one of the biggest challenges we face as designers.
For me, one of the greatest creative drivers is finding an engaging and human need that can be a catalyst for positive change. I believe that great ideas come from understanding people, and analysing how they are living and behaving now and anticipating how that will change in the future. Those insights can then be translated into real opportunities that have the potential to improve people’s lives in a tangible way.
Designers like Dieter Rams and Margaret Calvert, who do more with less, have created the kind of long-standing work that inspires our approach at LAYER. Ultimately, not a lot stands the test of time in the fast-moving, hyper-consumer culture in which we live.
Looking to the future, I believe that AI will develop into one of the most groundbreaking technologies of recent years, and it is something we are very engaged with as a practice. Machine learning and the opportunity for the devices around us to integrate more seamlessly and become partners to help us progress into the future is something that is very exciting for us.
We’re also working a lot with smart fabrics and materials with integrated sensors that can improve the intelligence of products. The ability to create product ecosystems and connected environments is driving a lot of opportunities.
Creative awards can offer insights into a creative practice, exposing it to new audiences. When we celebrate creative excellence, we inspire others to achieve that benchmark. D&AD is up there with some of the best international awards, and offers designers a great platform to communicate their vision for the future.
The difference between a good idea and a great idea lies in how human it is –and in an increasingly machine-dependent world, this is more important than ever. As a designer, everything comes down to whom you’re designing for and what makes them human. Great design helps to shape human behaviour to implement positive change. By raising the right questions through the products we design, we can stimulate a more human world.
If you enjoyed this opinion piece, you can read more thought provoking essays from D&AD Jury Presidents below.
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