The fastest thing we can change is our minds.
The global response to the predicaments our civilisation faces require rapid and immediate action.
Yet, for the climate issues alone, the infrastructural changes required to decarbonise and reduce emissions from power generation, food production and transportation may take decades to come into full effect, and risk being mired in controversy and political debate.
There are many guidelines and standards for directing the output of design professionals, but key leverage points for affecting change lie at start and end of the chain—with the commissioning client and the end-user.
There’s a fundamental need to challenge the ‘brief’ to which designers respond.
Before we develop ‘sustainable’ solutions, we probably need to think about what it is we want to try sustain. We need to re-imagine and prioritise our desires as a civilisation, if we head towards ‘deindustrialisation’, before we can engineer the technical solutions that enable them.
As citizen consumers and commissioning clients, we can — without delay — re-evaluate what we really want to experience, create and to consume, which in turn can help shape policy and design decisions of every kind.
Design is often the part of the solution, but it isn’t the question. Design solutions are the “how”. How to resolve the needs of clients and end-users in the best possible way. And in a limited sense, that’s all designers are responsible for. But design professionals, in communications with clients and the wider world, can swim upstream to question the brief — the “what” and the “why”. What we want to create and why we want it.
To do so effectively, it may help to focus on some common principles and concepts, much in the way that brands craft their offer to the consumer.
‘New Principles for Commissioning and Design’ is an attempt to translate the priorities of forward-thinking designers and campaigners into the kind of conceptual brand framework familiar to commercial and institutional clients, to reshape the brief for what we will look to produce.
‘New Principles’ adopts the methodology and tone of a brand strategy framework. As such it focusses on clear and simple statements and keywords, informed by insights into our common aspirations and desired personal outcomes.
The principles of the framework deliberately attempt to marry positive and optimistic dimensions — to encourage broad engagement — with pragmatism and determination.
“Targeting a climate resilient, sustainable world involves fundamental changes … to underlying values, world-views, ideologies”IPCC 2022