The Designer as an Activist

30 Dec 2020  •  10 min read


In this collection of articles, we explore the common ground shared between designers and activists, and reflect on what lessons activism can teach design. There is much work for designers to build a more equitable and just world—be it in society to the environment—and it starts first with how they are educated.

What does it mean to engage in activism through design? To engage in design through activism?
The McHarg Center

Inspired by the legacy of American landscape architect Ian McHarg,
who famously mixed design and advocacy for nature, various educators and designers reflect on the common ground shared by activism and design—and why it matters now more than ever. Read the article here.

11 Amazing Designs for Activism and Protest
Shillington (2020)

Graphic design has long played a key role in helping activists spread their ideas to the masses. Here are 11 examples from the USA and Europe which continue to influence movements around the world today. Read the article here.

Hack Cafe is an IKEA-style catalogue of DIY adjustments for dementia-friendly homes
Dezeen (2020)

After Ong Ker-Shing became a caregiver for her father with dementia, the director of Lekker Architects found herself hacking furniture and the home so they were safer and more comfortable. The experience led her to work with industrial designers Lanzavecchia + Wai and philanthropic organisation Lien Foundation to compile over 50 DIY projects to help other caregivers better serve those living with dementia. Read the article here.

Meet the ad agency behind the viral Singaporean 'CCB' site
Marketing Interactive (2020)

Two days after Singapore implemented a circuit breaker to stop the spread of COVID-19, advertising agency Tribal created a digital platform to help residents stay informed and entertained while staying indoors. “I am a CCB (Community Circuit Breaker)” offered pandemic-related updates and links to resources—all in a tongue-in-cheek package that offered a daily dose of relief during an uncertain period. Read the article here.

From design thinking to design doing: Eight lessons from activism
Medium (2019)

Focus on intention rather than markets. Engage diverse interest groups. Prioritise participation and inclusion. Just some of the lessons that design can learn from activism on how to make a meaningful
impact on society. Read the article here.

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