Designers should realize that they have a big role in the community. Design has been fabricating today’s reality and has been deeply internalized in people’s mind that it has become an essential intangible thing in our daily life.
“Today, we breath and live design” (Poynor, 2002: 6).
This condition has aggravated by the emergence of the internet. Information is vastly and promptly circulated in this world. Design is always affiliated with information and it is daunting (Rock, 1994). We need to admit that design has become more and more influential.
Big power leads to a bigger responsibility. Working with the ’real’ brief related to a big community in London makes me see how design can influence people’s lives, explicitly or not. Create a small difference to change people in a veiled way can be more interesting (might also be more effective) because they do not realize that they are being subjected to change. In other words, we make people unconsciously change. It does not involve the state of rejection in the early stage of change, because we do not change the system, we just nudge them to react differently towards the system. In this case, only a sensitive designer can create this kind of design: designers who try to understand and criticize the situation, not the ones who create design only to answer the client’s brief.
‘Sensitivity’ is a quality or state of being sensitive. While ‘sensitive’ is being receptive to sense impressions or highly responsive or susceptible (Webster, 2017). Being sensitive as a designer does not merely mean that we consider environmental issues such as global warming by creating paperless design or that we take into account humanitarian issues such as the current news about how many ships full of refugees has drowned in the sea crossings from Turkey. It might be too naive to say that it is necessary to be a compassionate designer while creating a design. However, it might be the first things a designer needed to have to be a sensitive designer. A compassionate person will prioritize and consider the real condition of people over any other interests. If we do not use our heart in response to this brief, we can design a surveillance system and make the fly-tipper pay as big as possible fine—make a bigger financial benefit for the council (the client) and bring a deterrent effect to society. However, by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, we can develop a better way to make people stop fly-tipping by creating this campaign. Thus we give them space to think about this phenomenon and change their behavior.
At the end of the day, there is no such measurement on the profile of a sensitive designer. It turns back to our own belief and principle in life. Yet the points discussed can be at least a consideration in making decisions during the design process.
Poynor, R. (2002) ‘First things First Manifesto, a Brief History’ in Bierut, M. (Ed) Looking closer 4 : critical writings on graphic design, New York : Allworth Press, pp.6–10
Rock, M. (1994) ‘Can design be socially responsible?’ in Bierut, M. (Ed) Looking Closer : critical writings on graphic design, New York : Allworth Press, pp.191–193
Thaler, R. & Sunstein, C. (2009) Nudge, London: Penguin
Webster, Noah. “Sensitive”. Merriam-Webster 1842. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
Webster, Noah. “Sensitivity”. Merriam-Webster 1842. Web. 28 Jan. 2017.
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