I’m working on a new project. I’d like to call it “Design Sponge.” But…that name is already taken. Really, though, the moniker perfectly encompasses my goal of reaching out to women in design and learning just what motivates them to become movers and shakers – not only in the design world, but in the world world. I am a sponge. Soaking it up…
“Start small,” Maria, my fellow Anchal contributor advised me. “Approach some women and just ask for a couple words of wisdom. Just one question, for example.”
I took Maria’s words to heart. Last week I got in touch with four inspiring women who have embraced social change as an integral part of their designs and I asked them one simple thing:
In two sentences or less, please paint a picture of what these words mean to you: Design + Social Change.
The responses I got were incredible! Give a designer constrictions (like a two sentence limit) and she’ll blow you out of the water. “Take that!” she’ll say as she whips up something amazing out of nothing.
I’m so glad to share the work of these four women with you. Here’s hoping you find inspiration in their words.
Cori Magee is a designer of graphics and interiors who shares her creative inspiration on her blog Pretty Haute Mess. Optimism spills onto the page of this lovely collection. As she puts it, she is “living a dream” – as in the kind that “we can wake up from and continue to experience in real life.”
When I asked her about design and social change, she said:
“I think social change happens when people are honest in expressing their beliefs. Design helps all of us learn how to express ourselves, unleashing creativity and progress.”
Christine Dinsmore is the owner and artiste-extraordinaire at Plumed,an online collection of adorable hand-stitched pillows.
I was immediately attracted to her blog, The Plumed Nest, because of the connection of hand-stitched textiles to our artisans’ work. When I wrote to Christine, I got a response that made hearing from her even more meaningful.
“Before I became a designer I was a director at a domestic violence shelter,” she replied. “We had a lot of immigrants in our shelter and I learned not only the dynamics of domestic and social violence in America, but around the world as well. Needless to say it is a cause close to my heart.”
Here are her thoughts on Design and Social Change:
“I think anytime we partake in the process of design, whether that be figuratively: redesigning ourselves, our lives or our way of thinking, or literally: designing organizations, products or art, we are partaking in social change. As with everything that we do, what we put into the world can have an impact on others. I find design has historically been, and continues to be, one of the most inspiring and creative ways to effect social change.”
Next up, a word from Kara Eschbach, Co-Founder, Editor in Chief, and Publisher of Verily Magazine. Kara comes from a business background, having worked for Credit Suisse’s secondary private equity fund and accruing experience in corporate finance, accounting, consulting, and investment banking before launching Verily Magazine.
Verily responds to the social narrative that would “manufacture” a certain cookie-cutter image of the modern woman. The magazine’s writers seek to “start a new conversation” especially for women who are looking for a “fresh take on life” – one that is “uplifting, affirming, and true.”
Be sure to check out the Verily blog, where you can learn more about the writers’ goals and subscribe to the print magazine. There is a full teaser issue online, with an article I found especially poignant for Anchal readers called Between Two Worlds, by Areej Hassan. Read it here.
Here’s Kara’s take on design and social change:
“Good design is elevating: from a simple but elegant engineering solution to breathtaking works of art, good design just makes life better and has the ability to reach people’s hearts. When that ability to communicate is harnessed, it can be a great catalyst for change: changes as big as providing jobs that allow women to leave exploitative work to something as small as making someone a little happier because the world is more beautiful.”
Finally, I spoke with Jeanette Nyberg, founder of Artchoo, a site dedicated to compiling resources for parents to find “wonderfully-designed products for their kids, art supplies and lesson plan ideas, and inspiration to make life with kids super-creative.”
In response to my email, she enthusiastically remarked that “I’ve never thought about design and social change in such depth before, so I am doubly fascinated by the whole concept now.”
“Where design and social change intersect is where simply buying a lovely item for your home turns into helping to effect a positive shift in how people live and think. This is the place where design can save the world.”