Design for Good

February 28, 2019 | by Abbie Swan

‘Design for Good’ can mean different things to different people, depending on your definition of what ‘Good’ is.

It could mean choosing to work on campaign that promotes a positive message across social media, or choosing to work for a brand who’s ethos you believe in.

While I was studying Graphic Design, I was determined to use my skills in visual communication to encourage positive changes – and I wanted to carry this forward into my career also.

After visiting the Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? exhibition at Wellcome Collection, which focused on design for Healthcare products and advertising, ranging from pharmaceutical packaging to informative leaflets for Dementia Charities – I realised that these were fine examples of designing for huge companies with big budgets and wide audiences, but with massive benefits to our society. While there are of course a lot of disreputable corporations out there, there are also a lot of businesses trying to make a positive change, everything from Charity organisations to Music and Events brands that aim to help us all live a better life.

Images from the Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? exhibition at Wellcome Collection

Last year I attended a Working Not Working talk with the topic of ‘Design For Good’ which was part of a series where designers were invited to discuss projects that are seen to have a positive influence on society. The three speakers were Caterina Bianchini, Andy Leek and Wednesday Studio whose work ranged from animation to art in the environment.

Wednesday Studio Ted-ed ‘Why incompetent people think they’re amazing’

Each had their own definition of ‘good’, with their own validity, just from different perspectives.

Andy Leek departed the world of corporate advertising in exchange for leaving life affirming and motivational notes in public spots – beginning in London, and now expanding all over the world in a collaborative form.

Caterina works exclusively on projects that she fully supports, ranging from design for organisations with a focus on counselling, mindfulness and spiritual teaching, to posters for music events encouraging and fundraising for the right to abortion in Ireland.

Wednesday Studio create engaging and inspiring animations for clients such as Ted-Ed and The School of Life, taking a new spin on educational techniques.

Caterina Bianchini ‘Neusteller’

These definitions of ‘good’ range from motivational, inspiring, ethical, educational and fun, and covering such a broad range of projects and clients really highlights just how the understanding of Design for Good can be interpreted differently.

My interpretation of Design for Good and how this can be achieved has evolved greatly, and i believe it will continue to change as my own morals and ethics change, as well as my knowledge of how the world works expands.

I choose to write about this almost for self-affirmation, as well as encouraging others; just because we are not changing the world in a ground-breaking way everyday, it doesn’t mean we aren’t making a difference with what we do.

I have also realised in the process though, that the most important thing is to just ensure you are having a positive impact and doing something you fully support and believe in; that could be launching a campaign to tackle a national health issue, or just designing a cool poster for your friends gig next week.