Design in a World in Turmoil

The Value and Function of Design in a World That Just Does Not Want to Stay Still

We all know what has been happening around us in recent times, and how these events are shaping the world around us. What we took for granted is now no longer guaranteed, and the importance of things that humans used to perceive as fundamental are now being rediscussed.

What has been happening in the last years has made us reconsider our priorities, our lifestyles, our work approaches, our relations with others, and many more aspects of existence. Suddenly, in the face of events such as pandemics and war, we came face to face with the fact that the way we’d been doing many things just did not fit our world any longer.

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A Transforming World: Can Design Play Any Part?

As it’s often the case when the world goes through a period of transformation that leaves it altered afterward, we cannot really see how things will look until we are out of this moment. Yet, it is often possible to start getting a feel for it even whilst changes are ongoing.

For instance, it is already commonly agreed that, after decades of living above our possibilities, in the years to come this trend will be reversed and most people on this planet will need to live life more frugally than they did before.

This is due to many reasons, but mainly it has to do with the world’s resources running out as well as goods and services becoming more expensive, which is also a consequence of resources running out.

To bring design into this discussion might seem to be nonsensical. Yet, since its existence – not exclusively in its contemporary meaning! – design has always played a part, sometimes small, other times big, in shaping events and the world around us.

So to the question ‘Can design play any part in a transforming world?’ we can not only answer ‘Yes’, but rather we can say that design itself can play a part in transforming the world. Because design does have the power to bring about change in people and carry universal messages, and to do so more efficiently than the written word (sometimes).

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Designing in Unconventional Times

The real task in designing in turbulent, unconventional and changing times is to make sure that the messages and the visual language are impactful and give as clear a message as possible.

When times are uncertain, visual language cannot be disruptive. That is for other times.

So make sure that you communicate your idea clearly, simply and, most importantly, without trying to be too out there, or you risk not being understood.

Design is meant to have a slightly different function in times of change, so you want it to be familiar and understandable. In quieter times, design’s shock factor functions better as it causes thought, reflection and questions – all things that ultimately need to change. But when change is already underway, that is not what you want to bring about – in fact, you want to reassure and offer something that is recognisible, understood and familiar.

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Gianmarco Caprio Avatar

Gianmarco Caprio / Content & Community Manager @ Phase

Content creator, editor and community manager at Phase.