Design, ethics, sustainability are charged terms that carry many preconceptions and understandings about what being an ethical designer committed to sustainability entails. Being, thinking and doing ethical design involves cultivating an ongoing commitment of creative responsibility for what we create – visual communication, virtual worlds, user experiences, interactions, systems, products, services - in ways that take into full consideration both tangible and intangible aspects of both the design outcome and the design process.
What we choose to design and how we design it – the complex creative decision-making entailed in all design – speaks volumes about our values and the contribution we believe design can bring to society and to complex global challenges we face. A mindful shift towards a more critical consciousness and awareness about the impact of design on the world, its value to society and its contribution to sustainable (or unsustainable) living can transform an outcome from something that may be visually appealing and commercially successful, to a design that is deeply transformative and has the potential to creative positive change.
The traditional roles of design, designer and designed object are redefined through new understandings of the relationship between the material and immaterial aspects of design, where the design product and process are understood as embodiments of particular worldviews, values and beliefs. When we take time to reflect on the intangible experiential dimension of the all designed objects – digital or otherwise - we already begin to transform and extend our critical lens on our own and others’ practice. An ethical design perspective brings to the fore central questions around social and civic responsibility, sustainability and consideration for the life of the designed object beyond the design studio.
When values, ethics and creative responsibility for outcome and process are framed as shared principles across multiple disciplinary practices, they can create a powerful dynamic of interdisciplinary collaboration.
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