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TAKING A STAND: THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DESIGNER IN THE 21ST CENTURY, or (Bringing the Artist Back into Design)

We are taking a week off from looking at the 2016 trends to write about something of pressing importance: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE EFFECTS, AND THE LONGEVITY, OF OUR CRAFT.

Change is necessary and inevitable

Though B&H is a company that prides itself on intuition, backed up by many many years of experience in the packaging design industry, I need to bring up just one moment of simple logic: 

1. I am a packagingdesigner and director of a packaging design company. 

2. More than 90­% of packaging materials become waste almost immediately. Packaging, and the waste it produces is a large part of the huge environmental, social, and even financial problems the world is facing.

3. I have children who need a safe, clean, healthy Earth to live on, and have children of their own. 

4. I also know that retail will continue to change drastically with the further increase in online shopping, the rise of package-less stores, no-stock stores, the imminent take off of the Internet of Thingsand eventually the next steps in 3D printing technologywhich may cut out many packaging and transportation needs altogether.

5. Every year there are more and more EU laws coming into effect about sustainability reporting and other restrictions and requirements. 

6. And all these new methods and things that solve these problems are really interesting and exciting and it makes the job even more fun!

Now let's add those up:

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 = Packaging design must change. Now.  

And the great thing is that there are many affordable and economically viable methods available right now. (See the links to related posts below for many examples.)

Above and below: Recycled PET pellets are easily and widely available in industrial quantities, and require little to no retooling. And even better you can then advertise that your bottles use no new petroleum and thus are adding no new plastic to the world.

             


These changes are being led by designers 

Where these changes have already happened they have been led by designers like Jonathan Ford of Pearlfisher, Michael Hendrix of IDEO, Karim Rashid, and many other top names.  

So when I look at the Czech Republic and Slovakia and see these changes are not yet in the market, then, as a designer, I have to ask myself, 

                             “Who’s gonna do it if I don’t?” 

(Fortunately I have an amazing company and dynamic, caring people, and we are working on it, and making progress. More about that at an appropriate time)

Design creates so much of what we are surrounded by 24 hours a day, and effects everything we experience. 

Poor design creates frustration, angst and waste.  

Good design can create delight, wonder, and inspiration.  

Can you guess which one is more likely to deepen brand loyalty and increase profits?

Call to action

So in this time of drastic environmental, social and economic problems, all designers must choose what purpose their work will serve.  Is it to make pretty pictures, create need, and convince people to buy products there is no real need for and are detrimental to the survival of the species?  Or is it to help repair the Earth and the hearts and minds of its people?

Is this not what true art has always been about?  Let’s bring the artist back into design. The person who does it not just for profit, but for love, care and a sense of higher purpose.

Note: Here is a book my husband and I have been reading.  Do Good Design: How Design Can Change Our World, by David B. Berman. This book is basically a call to action.  It makes clear the role design plays in persuading global audiences to fulfill invented needs. The book then outlines a sustainable approach to both the practice and the consumption of design. All professionals will be inspired by the message of how we can feel better and do better while holding onto our principles.

Related Posts:

Other Links:

Song of the Week: Action,by Mavis Staples, "Who's gonna do it if I don't?"


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