What Design Can Do

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Caption: What Design Can Do- Amsterdam 2017 wallpaper. Photo personally taken while volounteering at the event.

“If things are bad, that’s good, because when there’s a problem, people seek a solution”

  (Bruce Mau, speaker at WDCD)

Climate challenge. In May 2017 WDCD, Amsterdam, focused for two days on of the most discussed themes of the last decade: climate change, a critical issue for the planet and a catalyst for spread anxiety and concern all around the world.

As both 2015 and 2016 marked record global temperatures and we are witnessing droughts in Africa, hurricanes in Asia and flooding of America’s east coast, according to The World Meteorological Organization, the weather conditions are extreme and the main cause is human activity; as a consequence, solutions must be found.

By happy chance, designers are optimist for default, and they are all feeling the need to take action to solve this dramatic problem, as the WDCD event demonstrated.

The Dutch young team triggered a panel of international designers with different approaches and backgrounds to find and debate creative solutions inviting them to a serie of conferences and workshops.

British journalist Alice Rawshorn opened the first day with the notion that there is a new spirit of design as agent of change, which through the crucial  catalyst of digital technology, can make sense of what is happening.

Later, Brazilian designer Fred Gelli drew attention to the need of designers to make people aware of the situation through appealing solutions and make desirable campaigns, instead of shocking images of dead animals or apocalyptic scenarios. “We have to look at how nature communicates, nature creates desire for the perpetuation of the species, and it is all about strategy”, stated Gelli.

Ikea’s strategy has been another way of approaching the theme, analyzing the way to communicate and deliver sustainable solutions. Ikea’s Design Manager Marcus Engman illuminated the public with successes and failures of the Swedish furniture company, explaining the vital importance of providing a vision and not focusing on revenues. “ First of all we focus on vision, not on business; and that same vision create good business”.

Similarly to these examples, speeches and interesting reflections have been discussed by the other speakers. However, it could be argued that, as one of the most common mistakes of designers is to have great concepts and ideas but a relative absence of effectiveness, although all the guests were engaging and had strong creative perspectives, the lack of a technical and scientific counterpart generated an atmosphere of desire and hope but with not many real actions for the future involved.

Hopefully, WDCD launched a challenge, for everyone:

http://www.whatdesigncando.com/challenge-2017/climate-action/

Who’ s ready to take a stand?

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