I believe in effective, meaningful design which inevitably keeps sustainability as a top priority. Throughout my career I will focus on the lifecycle of the products and services I create, assuring they are being produced, consumed, and disposed in an ethical fashion. Of course it is impossible to fully control all stages of a lifecycle, however as a successful designer I will pride myself on controlling as many variables as possible.
As Google’s ex-design ethicist Tristan Harris states, we as designers provide the illusion of freedom to our users, yet we still are only offering them a menu. Like a magician, we give our consumers the feeling of having free range, yet they are still being contained. By imbedding moral standards in to the menus we create, we limit our user’s chance of being irresponsible or unethical. In other words, as a designer I ultimately stand responsible for my user’s actions. This is true in all types of design, from the Remington 700’s faulty trigger which lead to the untimely death of two children, to the recent case of United Airlines having to forcibly remove a doctor from one of their overbooked flights. Even if someone had been pointing the gun, or the doctor was resisting the police when asked to leave the plane, ultimately these issues correlate to design flaws. We must stay responsible for our actions.
Although I can not guarantee all of my products and services will be easily affordable and accessible to every person, I can ensure they will be meaningful to those who acquire them. I do not believe in excess — I am a true minimalist, preaching William Morris’ words, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. Excess is at the root of evil, providing our people with greed and our earth with waste.
Successful creators like R/GA’s founder Robert Greenberg have all types of strange ways about their design philosophy. Greenberg believes in numerology, so he has decided to completely restructure his company’s business model every nine years. What started as a computer-assisted film-making company changed to a digital studio, to an interactive advertising agency, an advertising agency with a digital focus and beginning in 2012, product innovation and consulting.
What I take away from this is the belief we must never remain stagnant as designers. Living in an ever changing world, we must not fight our societal trends but rather embrace or at least understand them. Unlike many other industries, change will always be a good thing to a designer — it constantly provides us with new opportunities for innovation. Designers will always remain at the forefront of change, which is as exciting as it is scary. By keeping this in mind, we must remember that we stay responsible for how society evolves with time.
We as designers are the ones who make vital decisions, creating the menu for everyone who uses it, even when they don’t realize they’re dining with us. Because of this, I will always keep sustainability and ethical standards as top priority - because If I don’t, my consumer can’t.