Year-end Appeal

Designer’s Pledge Drive

Fans of public radio might dread the last two words of this title, but this is not one of those pledge drives where we ask for money in return for tote bags and coffee mugs.

This is not a request for funds, but rather an invitation to commit.

In 2018 and 2019 a group of design practitioners, social impact funders, and investors gathered to consider how to promote design as a mechanism for social impact. One of the products of those conversations was a ten-point framework to help guide designers in their work.

A commitment to The Designer’s Pledge is about reminding ourselves that design can have a higher purpose–that design, when practiced with humility and with openness, has the potential to positively impact our world even in the most difficult of times, and perhaps especially so. It is neither a rulebook or instruction set. Faithful adherence to all ten points will not guarantee successful design but approaching design through these considerations might at least prepare us to be successful.

Let’s face it, design has too often failed to live up to its claims to make the world a better place. Where we seek to design for all, we too often design for some. Where we seek to be complete we sometimes forget to ask questions about the wider system and its constituents. Our enthusiasm for the new, the simple, the delightful can blind us to the unintended consequences of our work. Design has operated for most of its professional history under the influence of white privilege resulting in the woeful under-representation of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples.

Design will always be a risky business, where the unknown can confound our best efforts, but that does not excuse us from the due consideration of how we should approach our work so as to minimize negative consequences and maximize positive impact.

For me, the pledge acts as a form of design meditation. It puts me into a state where I am better able to face the complexity of my work with responsibility and optimism. It cautions me while opening my mind to the possibilities of the work. It challenges me to think bigger but also to have humility and to remember that design is a service to others.

I have hope that by sharing in a commitment to this pledge we can raise our expectations for what design might achieve and work together to fulfill them.

Please join us.

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