Ted Ten- Design Activism

This strategy explores the role of designers in promoting sustainability and change. Theorist suggest that as we now live in a society in which “everybody designs” they have to work as part of a “complex mesh”- among individuals, non-profit organisations and businesses who are working creatively towards sustainability.

“To be a responsible designer requires more than just talent, it requires good citizenship” (Steven Heller – Citizen Designer, 2003)

This quote outlines the idea that designers should not only produce things, but also promote their ideals.

Otto Von Busch is a key figure in Design Activism, and is part of “Fashion Hacktivism”. He wants the consumer to take back control over their fashion choices, taking a step back from mass produced and un ethically sourced goods, and creating a fashion industry in which the customer is far more involved. Von Busch says “I believe it is better to make change from within the system, by not destroying it but building on it.” This image sums up his approach:-


Reference: 18/12/2012, http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/1466/1/otto-von-busch-fashion-hacktivism, website

AdBusters are a very prolific group of designers that have been participating in design activism for many years. The first piece that I came across of theirs was actually in the Victoria and Albert Museum- “I shop therefore I am”. Often, the designers take adverts or phrases and twist them slightly to reveal a new truth. The pieces are quite subtle but very clever, and have a lasting effect of the viewer. They take something that we know so well and make us realise there is a lot more to think about. This particular campaign worked against mass consumerism and needless consumption.


Reference, https://www.adbusters.org, website

I think having a kind of personal manifesto to work by, being confident in this manifesto and believing in it, sharing it with others so that they might adopt the approaches themselves is a way that I could be slightly more of a design activist. This lecture made me realise that activism does’t have to be aggressive or vigorous, but can make a big difference.


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