Tuesday, 28 October 2014

CoP Tutorial 1

First tutorial 28/10/14

I went to the tutorial with a lot of my stuff I had been looking into and brief ideas I had about my title and the chapters, what I would need to look into, as well as my research on my blog and some I had collected. 

I spoke briefly about my topic after being briefly confused about whether I needed to or could focus down after it had been mentioned in my CoP Presentation. And so we discussed the initial idea of socially responsible graphic design. 

We then defined that I didn't need to focus on one area of design as it would be to focussed and looking into 3 case studies would give me a spectrum of the subject. 

Writing Piece Plan

Defined question: Is socially responsible design always/automatically good design ?
Intro- 500/700 words
1. Broad Chapter 2000 words, looking into mass consumerism and social responsibility 
                                                 (focusing on four key themes I had found previously in my              
2. Close Reading of First Things First 2000words, looking into the social responsibility of       
                                                 the graphic designer (Tibor Kalman, critics of FTF)
3. Look into 3 Case Studies 4000words of work that has attempted to be socially       
                                                 responsible but have somehow failed 
    3.1 First Study 1300 words
    3.2 Second Study 1300 words
    3.3 Third Study 1300 words

Conclusion 1000 words (about)(lengthy) How it is impossible to achieve fully.

By the week commencing 17th November have the first two chapters drafted for the next tutorial. 

I feel a lot more confident about this and I think that I should be able to achieve this by this point. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Science of Gossip Ted Talks


An interesting take upon gossip, 
how its shows what our society accepts and our norms, what implications it has for the future, where it originated (hieroglyphics the first written letters)

It is the search of answering questions of society- according to Elaine Lui

Tibor Kalman

Tibor Kalman


In the mid-1980s two names changed graphic design: Macintosh and Tibor. The former needs no introduction. Nor, with various books and articles by and about him, does the latter. Tibor Kalman, who died on May 2, 1999, after a long, courageous battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was one of the few graphic designers whose accomplishments were legend within the field and widely known outside as well. Tibor may not be as influential on the daily practice of graphic design as the Mac, but his sway over how designers think—indeed, how they define their roles in culture and society—is indisputable. For a decade he was the design profession's moral compass and its most fervent provocateur.
I first saw Tibor in the 1980s when, as master of ceremonies of the annual AIGA New York “Fresh Dialogues” evening, he transformed the navel-gazing event into a cultural circus. He assembled a cast of a dozen relative unknowns and a few prematurely forgottens to enlighten and entertain, each through five minute offerings about the overall visual culture, rather than their own design work. Though at times it was reminiscent of an elementary school show-and-tell, most of the presentations shed light on generally ignored issues of environmental waste, the virtues of unsophisticated design, and the divisions between Modernism and postmodernism. Some were funny, others serious—together they were truly fresh dialogues.
Tibor was a tough ringmaster. If any speaker went thirty seconds beyond his or her allotted time (or if Tibor felt that the talk was unbearably dull) the amplified sound of barking dogs would pierce the presenter's soliloquy, signaling the end of the segment. In addition, Tibor introduced quirky short films, an unexpected pizza delivery (by a nonplussed delivery boy), and souvenir handouts (designed by a job printer and reproduced at QuickCopy) that showed design at its most rudimentary, yet communicative. As a new twist on the old ventriloquist's dummy, Tibor's onstage straight man was a Mac Classic with a happy face that quipped at programmed intervals. This was the first of many public salvos against the status quo. It was also vintage Tibor.
Not since the height of American Modernism during the late 1940s and 1950s had one designer prodded other designers to take responsibility for their work as designer-citizens. With a keen instinct for public relations, a penchant for Barnum-like antics, and a radical consciousness from his days as an organizer for SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), Tibor had, by the late 1980s, become known as (or maybe he even dubbed himself) the “bad boy” of graphic design.
When the clothing company Esprit, which had prided itself as being socially liberal and environmentally friendly, was awarded the 1986 AlGA Design Leadership award, an irate Tibor anonymously distributed leaflets during the awards ceremony at the AlGA National Design Conference in San Francisco protesting the company's exploitation of Asian laborers. Tibor believed that award-winning design was not separate from the entire corporate ethic and argued that “many bad companies have great design.” In 1989, as co-chair with Milton Glaser of the AlGA's “Dangerous Ideas” conference in San Antonio, he urged designers to question the effects of their work on the environment and refuse to accept any client's product at face value. As an object lesson and act of hubris, he challenged designer Joe Duffy to an impromptu debate about a full-page advertisement that he and his then partner, British corporate designer Michael Peters, had placed in the Wall Street Journal promoting their services to Fortune 500 corporations. While most designers admired this self-promotional effort, Tibor insisted that the ad perpetuated mediocrity and was an example of selling out to corporate capitalism. This outburst was the first, but not the last, in which Tibor criticized another designer in public for perceived misdeeds. By the early 1990s, Tibor also had written (or collaborated with others in writing) numerous finger-wagging manifestos that exposed the pitfalls of what he sarcastically called “professional” design.
Tibor saw himself as a social activist for whom graphic design was a means of achieving two ends: good design and social responsibility. Good design, which he defined as “unexpected and untried,” added more interest, and was thus a benefit, to everyday life. Second, since graphic design is mass communication, Tibor believed it should be used to increase public awareness of a variety of social issues. His own design firm, M&Co (named after his wife and co-creator, Maira), which started in 1979 selling conventional “design by the pound” to banks and department stores, was transformed in the mid-1980s into a soapbox for his social mission.
He urged clients like Restaurant FIorent to use the advertising M&Co created for them to promote political or social messages. He devoted M&Co's seasonal self-promotional gifts to advocate support for the homeless. One Christmas he sent over 300 clients and colleagues a small cardboard box filled with the typical Spartan contents of a homeless-shelter meal (a sandwich, crackers, candy bar, etc.) and offered to match any donations that the recipients made to an agency for the homeless. The following year he sent a book peppered with facts about poverty along with twenty dollars and a stamped envelope addressed to another charity.

Tibor was criticized for using the issue of homelessness as a public relations ploy to garner attention for M&Co. And indeed he was a master at piquing public interest in just this way. But he was also sincere. Perhaps the impulse came from his childhood, when as a seven-year-old Hungarian immigrant fleeing the Communists in 1956, he and his family were displaced—virtually homeless—in a new land. Although he became more American than most natives, he never forgot the time when he was an “alien.”
He savored the nuances of type and had a fetish for vernacular design—the untutored or quotidian signs, marquees, billboards, and packages that compose mass culture—but understood that being a master of good design meant nothing unless it supported a message that led to action. Even most stylistic work must be viewed in the context of Tibor's persistence. Everything had to have meaning and resonance. A real estate brochure, like one for Red Square, an apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, had to be positioned in terms of how it would benefit the surrounding low-income community. One message was never enough. When Tibor sold a “design” to a client, he did not hype a particular typeface or color, but rather how the end result would simultaneously advance both client and culture.
Tibor did not, however, rebel against being a professional—M&Co was in business to be successful and he enjoyed the rewards of prosperity. But he questioned the conventions of success. “Everyone can hire a good photographer, choose a tasteful typeface and produce a perfect mechanical,” Tibor once railed. “So what? That means ninety-five percent of the work exists on the same professional level, which for me is the same as being mediocre.” Tibor ardently avoided any solution, or any client, that would perpetuate this bete noir. About clients, Tibor said: “We're not here to give them what's safe and expedient. We're not here to help eradicate everything of visual interest from the face of the earth. We're here to make them think about design that's dangerous and unpredictable. We're here to inject art into commerce.”
With little patience for mundane and insipid thinking, whether it came from clients, other designers, or M&Co, Tibor was intolerant of mindless consistency and was not reluctant to make people angry—including associates, friends, and allies. For example, in a speech before the Modernism and Eclecticism design history symposium, he accused two friends, Charles Spencer Anderson and Paula Scher, who revived historical styles at that time, of being graverobbers who abrogated their responsibility as creators. Curiously, M&Co had developed a house style of its own based on vernacularism, the “undesign” that Tibor celebrated for its unfettered expression, which also fed into the postmodern penchant for referring to the past. While Tibor's ire sometimes seemed inconsistent with his own practice, he rationalized M&Co's use of vernacular as a symbol of protest—a means of undermining the cold conformity of the corporate International Style.
M&Co left scores of design artifacts behind, but Tibor will be remembered more for his critiques on the nature of consumption and production than for his formal studio achievements, which were contributed to by many talented design associates. Despite numerous entries in design annuals, and the catalogue of objects in his own book, Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist(Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), the heart of Tibor's accomplishment was enlarging the parameters of design from service to cultural force. And this was no more apparent than in his later work. For when Tibor realized that stylish record albums, witty advertisements, and humorous watches and clocks had a limited cultural value, he turned to editing. First, he signed on as creative director of the magazines Artforum and Interview. But he mostly guided the look, not the content, of these publications. In fact, without total control he was frustrated by his inability to experiment with a new pictorial narrative theory that he was developing. As a teenager he was an avid fan of Life magazine, and believed that in the age of electronic media, photojournalism was still a more effective way to convey significant stories. While editing pictures for the photographer Oliviero Toscani, who had created the pictorial advertising identity for Benetton, the Italian clothing manufacturer, Tibor helped produce a series of controversial advertisements focusing on AIDS, racism, refugees, violence, and warfare that carried the Benetton logo but eschewed the fashions it sold. For him, this was sublimely subversive.
Productless commercial advertisements were not altogether new. In the 1980s Kenneth Cole and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream companies devoted advertising and packaging space to promote social and environmental causes. But in the 1990s Benetton went a step further with what began as The United Colors of Benetton, a product-based series of multicultural kids promoting ethnic and racial harmony, which evolved into captionless double truck journalistic photographs. Ultimately the ads led to the creation of Benetton's own magazine, Colors, for which Tibor became editor-in-chief and where he continued to reject fashion magazine cliches in favor of sociopolitical issues. Colors quickly became the primary outlet for Tibor's most progressive ideas. And shortly after launching the magazine, he closed M&Co's doors and moved to Rome.
Colors was “the first magazine for the global village,” Tibor announced, “aimed at an audience of flexible minds, young people between fourteen and twenty, or curious people of any age.” It was also the outlet for Tibor's political activism. In his most audacious issue devoted to racism, a feature titled “How to Change Your Race” examined cosmetic means of altering hair, lips, noses, eyes, and, of course, skin color to achieve some kind of platonic ideal. Another feature in the same issue, “What If...” was a collection of full-page manipulated photographs showing famous people racially transformed: Queen Elizabeth and Arnold Schwarzenegger as black; Pope John Paul II as Asian; Spike Lee as white; and Michael Jackson given a Nordic cast. “Race is not the real issue here,” Kalman noted. “Power and sex are the dominant forces in the world.”
Through its vivid coverage of such themes as deadly weapons, street violence, and hate groups, Colors was a vivid contrast to Benetton's fashion products. Even the way it was printed, on pulp paper, which soaked up ink and muted the color reproductions, went counter to the brightly lighted Benetton shops with happy clothes in vibrant color. Yet Colors served to “contextualize,” as Tibor defined it, Toscani's advertising imagery. Indeed, the basis for criticism leveled at Benetton's advertising campaign had been the absence of context. Without a caption or explanatory text the images appeared gratuitous—shocking, yes, but uninformative. The campaign signaled that Benetton had some kind of a social conscience, but the ads themselves failed to explain what it was. With Colors the advertisements appeared as teasers for a magazine that critically addressed war and peace, love and hate, power and sex.
In 1997, cancer forced Tibor to return to New York, where despite grueling chemo and radiation therapy, he re-established M&Co with a mission to take a pro-active approach to design and art direction. Foreseeing his last chance to do meaningful work, Tibor accepted only projects that would have lasting impact. He began writing OpArt critiques for the OpEd Page of theNew York Times, attacking smoking and noise pollution, among other issues. He designed an outdoor installation of photographs of real people commenting on their relationship to Times Square, which hung on the scaffold around the Conde Nast tower in Times Square. He taught a weekly class in pictorial narrative in the MFA/Design program at the School of Visual Arts until a week before he died. And he continued to contribute articles on popular and vernacular culture to various magazines. As his last testament he designed “Tiborocity,” a retrospective exhibition at SFMoMA, constructed as thematic “neighborhoods” that integrated Tibor's work with his graphic influences from the '60s and '70s.
Of the two names that changed design in the '80s and '90s—Mac and Tibor—one changed the way we work, the other the way we think. The former is a tool, the latter was our conscience.

What is Morality, how does it apply to Graphic Design ?

Some useful Definitions 
according to 'Good:An introduction to ethics in graphic design', by Lucienne Roberts

Ethics (noun)
Moral Philosophy
Moral principles

Ethical (adjective)(to be... ethical)
Relating to morals
Morally Correct

Moral (adjective)(to be... moral)
Concerned with the goodness or badness of human character or behaviour, or with the distinction between right and wrong

Morals (noun)
Moral Behaviour

Good (adjective)(to be... good)
Having the right or desired qualities
Efficient, competent, reliable
Kind, morally excellent, virtuous, charitable, well-behaved, enjoyable, beneficial
Right, proper, expedient

Good (noun)
That which is good; what is beneficial or morally right

Right (adjective)
Just, morally or socially correct

Right (noun)
That which is morally or socially correct, just, fair treatment

(all definitions taken from The Oxford Compact English Dictionary)

'Morality is of course part of ethics, but it is not the whole of ethics. Morality is about some of our responsibilities to others, whereas ethics is about one's 'ethos', one's whole way of life. It is about what sort of person one is.' -Anthony Grayling, The Heart of Things.

This is what I myself find interesting, 'Morality is about our responsibility to others', means to me how we can all be right by one another and how we can all help one another, but it also includes what we can do for the earth and the environment, in protecting our earth we protect ourselves and life, I also feel that animals are involved within this and they apply to our 'responsibility towards others'. I am not saying that everyone has to stop eating meat, as animals do eat other animals, but I think that we can be more humane and less destructive in our everyday lives. I think that the quote above has helped me to clarify the direction of my research, and clarifies it to others. 

Morality is therefore interlinked with the responsibility and our feelings of being responsible.

As well what I find interesting about the definitions of the words above is that they are all similar they seem to work and circulate with one another they are all relative, and to really understand one you need to understand them all, which to me means the topic is complex, and has areas of undefinability. 

For instance; like I have previously looked into 
Who defines what is good, nobody has the same views upon what is wrong and what is right ?
There is no international recognised scale of what is really good or bad, and there are always people in dispute, however I do believe events or acts that are constituted as being very bad or very good the majority agrees upon, for example the Nazis 'Final Solution' formulated in 1942, lead to the murder of 6 million Jewish citizens and many other minorities, this is probably one of the biggest atrocities in history and I would say is the top end of the 'bad' scale, and most of the world would agree. 
Yet this plan was designed, it was all a result of many factors that allowed Hitler to rise to power and dictatorship. On the one hand he allowed the design of thousand of propaganda campaigns, but on the other he banned all other forms of Art and Design, closed the Bauhaus and arrested anyone who would continue to create design against him or anything he deemed as appropriate. But people still continued to create in secret, but the majority in Germany at the time would have seen these people and their work as 'bad', because they had been hypnotised by all the propaganda(bad) around them, and this to me is a case study of what is wrong and right within design and life.
Is wrong and right, good and bad influenced by larger powers around you ? 
I think that the answer, for the general majority again is yes. 

However back to the general .... 

So what do moral factors and morality have to do with people who design and make things?  

The answer is clear. The way that we design and make things affect the safety, comfort and well being of people who come into contact with our designs and who will be affected by them.  So, the morality of our thinking and decision making has an impact on every aspect of our design and technology work and on the people who will use our products.

Morality: The Design Opportunity

The identification of a problem or design opportunity offers us a chance to do something about it.  Our moral choices are that:
  • we could do something that would be considered by others to be good for people, our environment and living things such as birds, fish and animals;
  • we could do something that would be considered by others to be bad for people, our environment and living things such as birds, fish and animals, or;
  • we could decide to do nothing at all.
The moral dilemma is whether to act when we know that action should be taken and whether to do what is right and good for others particularly when it is difficult or not so good for us.

Morality: The Design Specification

The design specification lists the specific things that a design should include and the specific attributes that a design should have.  The morality with which the design specification is compiled helps determine the quality, safety and suitability of the design.  So the specification should be compiled with the aim of creating a product that is right and good for people and the environment. 

Morality: The Design

A design is a detailed plan of a product, system or environment that takes into account how the product, system or environment should be manufactured and how it should be used.  A design may be judged as being a very good design because the finished product does precisely what it was intended to do, however, the way that the product is intended to be used may be judged as being morally good or bad, or right or wrong.
Take for example, the design of land mines.  A land mine is intended to be hidden just below the surface of the earth and to explode when a light pressure is applied to the top of it.  The fact that hidden land mines indiscriminately blow the legs off unsuspecting adults, children and animals, questions the morality of all the people involved with commissioning, designing, manufacturing, advertising, distributing, selling and using the product. 
So the way that a design is intended to be used is a factor in determining whether the designer’s actions are morally good or bad, or morally right or wrong.  The morality of the designer’s decision making, together with the designer’s practical skills determines how much the world will benefit from the design. 
Morally, designs intended for the general public, should be inclusive, i.e. designed in a way that everyone can use the finished product, system or environment comfortably and safely.  New designs for public facilities such as public telephones, public parks and public buildings are generally inclusive designs aimed at giving everyone equal access to them, around them and exit from them.   However, even inclusive designs cannot cater for every conceivable need that individuals that make up “the general public” can have, so designs have to be modified, customised and redesigned to meet the specific and special needs of individuals.
Ideally, a design should be a good solution to a problem or a design opportunity and should benefit humans, plants, animals or the environment, with minimal or no detrimental affects.  All designs should take into account the health, safety and well being of the makers and users of the design.

The article above is more specific to design but I think that it is in conduction with my own ideas about morality within graphic design as I mentioned before. The highlighted phrase I think is the most important thing to take away, but to add to it I think that a design should also be designed in purpose to be good or encourage positive change, and awareness. It should be responsible.


In discussing ethics and design, there are at least three different levels for us to consider.
The first has to do with professional behavior in daily business interactions. The next level deals with specific professional expertise needed in such areas as accessibility, usability, consumer safety and environmental practices. This leads us to the third level, which is about overall professional values-a broader framework of moral principles and obligations in life...

The designer's role
Depending on your design discipline and the nature of your client's business, you may need to be aware of additional responsibilities and legal obligations in the following areas.
Universal design and accessibility 
Places, products and services should be universally accessible to people of all ages, abilities and physical conditions. You'll want your creative work to reduce barriers and be welcoming to everyone. Your designs should facilitate mobility, communication and participation in civic life. In fact, some aspects of these moral obligations to the public have been written into law in the United States and other countries such as Japan and the United Kingdom.
For example, if you work in the United States and you design a physical space, your project may be subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which is a civil rights act that affects private businesses as well as governmental organizations. ADA requirements are of particular importance to industrial designers, interior designers, and architects. These requirements apply to new construction as well as to alterations.
If you are designing electronic products or digital services in the United States, you must be aware of Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. It's of particular importance to user interface designers as well as software and hardware developers. This law requires electronic and information technology purchased by the U.S. government to be accessible for people with disabilities. It sets accessibility and usability requirements for any websites, video equipment, kiosks, computers, copiers, fax machines and the like that may be procured by the government, thereby affecting all such products in the American market.
Consumer product labeling 
If you are involved in the design of certain consumer products or packages, you and your client need to be aware of any applicable labeling requirements. In the United States, a number of federal and state laws have been enacted to protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing products that might be unsafe or unsanitary. Similar laws are in place in Canada, Japan and the European Union. The laws cover a variety of product categories, including such items as food, pharmaceuticals, textiles, bedding, furniture, and toys. Specific formats vary, but the labeling requirements often include identification of contents and country of origin, as well as the inclusion of safety instructions and warnings. For example, here are two websites with information about food product labels:

Ecology and sustainability 
With each passing year, issues related to ecology and sustainability become more critical for the entire world. Designers can make a big difference-not only through responsible choices about materials and processes used in current projects, but by staying well-informed and providing expert guidance to clients about long-term plans and activities. Industrial designers in particular are faced with a dual challenge-the need to constantly re-create and improve products while avoiding the excesses of planned obsolescence and throw-away culture. Innovative thinking will help reduce consumption and waste, reduce the use of toxic materials, encourage reuse and recycling, increase energy efficiency, and encourage the development and use of renewable energy sources. In many countries, ecological principles are being written into law. Germany has taken the lead in establishing requirements for manufacturers regarding the use of recycled materials, the use of sustainable energy sources and the reduction of waste. General reference information is available to designers from a number of sources including several professional associations. Here are some places to start:

Clearly, the universal design concerns and ecological responsibilities mentioned above are part of a much broader system of moral values and obligations-not just how we do our work, but what it is that we are doing in the first place and the impact it will have on the world. Although many designers agree on professional behavior toward clients and peers, there is less consensus about the obligations of designers toward society in general and the role that we should play in finding solutions to complex global problems. Here we move beyond objective instructions on how to do something, and into
subjective decisions ...

[From this I have gathered that the subject I am looking into is subjective, I was familiar with the word but wanted to define it to myself fully. 

What does the word Subjective mean ?

1.existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than tothe object of thought (opposed to objective ).
2.pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal; individual:
a subjective evaluation.
3.placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes, opinions,etc.; unduly egocentric.
4.Philosophy. relating to or of the nature of an object as it is known inthe mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
5.relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind asdistinguished from general or universal experience.
6.pertaining to the subject or substance in which attributes inhere;essential.

And so from this definition I now know that my subject matter is in fact subjective, is based upon personal feelings and opinions and that there will be no concrete right or wrong, like right and wrong itself. Which means I will need to look into my topic throughly and form my own opinion based upon the evidence I find that supports what I think, but also to find opposing evidence and come to my own conclusion, which again is subject to opinion.] 

... about what is right and good. It's possible to function as a skilled designer and a successful businessperson without being a good global citizen. Here are just a few of the many interrelated social, economic and political challenges that we face:

The expansion of consumer culture 
Designers are involved in many different activities, but a significant portion of our work promotes corporate commercialism. When serving commerce, we need to be aware of the influence and impact that our work has on the public. Marketing and advertising shape consumer culture, including the self-image and personal values of buyers. Our involvement in materialism and conspicuous consumption may even extend to the creation of artificial needs and the promotion of unnecessary products through advertising and marketing messages that are manipulative or deceptive. These concerns are also present in the political realm, where the latest consumer marketing techniques are used to manufacture consent on political issues and to sell candidates to voters. Two very interesting commentaries are available online about the relationship between commercialism and design.
The increasing power of corporations 
Most leading design firms work for large corporate clients and it's no secret that good design sometimes supports bad companies. Private profit making is often at odds with public good. Designers function as advisors to corporate clients and as advocates for the end user. In this capacity, we can exert a positive influence on clients and inspire responsibility. To do this, we must dig deeper, ask questions, express doubts and propose alternatives. We must actively work to resolve contradictions between business and societal needs. On each commissioned project, we must ask ourselves: Is the message truthful? Is the service beneficial? Is the product useful, made well and produced in a sustainable way?
We also shape our careers through our choice of clients. Some designers consciously shift their activities away from for-profit clients and into the not-for-profit realm, into activism and cause-related marketing. Many designers have taken the leap to developing their own, non-commissioned projects. Design entrepreneurs working at a small scale have more latitude to explore new business models and practices.
The globalization of trade 
Many designers work with multinational corporations-either as outside consultants or as in-house employees. In most global businesses, raw materials come from one part of the world, manufacturing happens in another place, and final sales are made somewhere else. Through their activities, multinationals spread capitalism. They influence governments and have significant impact on local cultures. Unfortunately, their activities can lead to economic imbalances. Additional concerns include labor conditions, human rights and environmental practices, particularly in developing countries.
Design is a problem-solving process and the world today has so many problems. Designers need to play a larger role-not just responding, but initiating. We need to bring our personal beliefs and professional activities into alignment. Through our work, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to put our system of basic values into action-to model the behavior that we want to see in the world.

In tackling complex issues, we need to be aware of larger contexts, and to reach out to other professionals. In many instances, the scale of the challenge will move us beyond our training. We need to partner with experts in many other disciplines-economists, anthropologists, biologists, political scientists, and sociologists, to name just a few. To these collaborations we bring humanist roots, historical perspective, cross-cultural awareness, critical thinking, project leadership and a holistic approach.
We must also be actively involved in the political process to reshape institutions and reset priorities. Design is a powerful tool for shaping the world and how we live in it. Ethical design is our way to contribute to the betterment of all and to ensure abundance, diversity and health to future generations.

AIGA - 'advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, inspire designers and the public, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.'

Glaser and Kalman as advocates for social responsibility 

During a “Big Think” interview with designer Milton Glaser says that the ultimate challenge for designers is to create beautiful, not just sustainable, design. Glaser believes that we respond to beauty as a species; beauty is the means by which we move towards the attentiveness that protects our species as a survival mechanism. Glaser thinks that ultimately it’s the responsibility of the graphic designer to inform and delight by creating beautiful designs. Social responsibility in graphic design has advocates in both the private sector and the public sector, in large organizations and small, and on an individual basis. 

Since 1942 the Ad Council has been addressing critical social issues. Campaigns like “Rosie the Riveter,” “Smokey the Bear,” and “Crash Test Dummies” have delivered critical messages to the American public. A private, non-profit organization, the Ad Council uses volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities. 

Graphic designers like Tibor Kalman prodded fellow designers to take responsibility for their work as designer-citizens. Throughout his career he urged designers to question the effects of their work and refuse to accept any client’s product at face value. Kalman inspired graphic designers to use their work to increase public awareness of a variety of social issues. Across the globe as well as on an individual level, graphic designers are being challenged to create work that’s socially responsible. Read about “Water for India,” an example of teaching social responsibility.

So is responsible design also good design ?

'Shouldn't all graphic design be responsible ? Not just protest, advocacy, cautionary, or information design- all graphic communication aimed at the public should be conscientious, and, therefore, good. 
Yet not all aesthetically commendable design conveys worthy messages or promotes harmless products.

For instance... Cigarette packet generally come in a delightfully coloured box, designed for lurking youngsters to buy cigarettes, while the graphics for the antismoking campaign Truth, aimed at ending teenage tobacco abuse, are not always well designed.' 

- Past Principles: A History of Good, Ethical Graphic Design, Steven Heller (section within Conscientious Objectives: Designing for an Ethical Message, written by John Cranmer and Yolanda Zappaterra. 2003) 

As this book was published over ten years ago I feel that the some elements of the above statement have changed, but I feel in principle that it is still true. Cigarette packaging now is plain packaged in some countries, and in the UK ...

(Old Packaging)

(New Packaging)

Plain cigarette packaging, also known as generic, standardised or homogeneous packaging, refers to packaging that requires the removal of all branding (colours, imagery, corporate logos and trademarks), permitting manufacturers to print only the brand name in a mandated size, font and place on the pack, in addition to the health warnings and any other legally mandated information such as toxic constituents and tax-paid stamps. The appearance of all tobacco packs is standardised, including the colour of the pack.

Meaning that the design of cigarettes is now supposed to be off putting as well as this supermarkets in the UK have also been banned from displaying cigarettes


and so the above statement is dated, but it has an underlying principle, that the harmful products or bad ideas are sometimes a lot more persuasive, effective and 'good' in design terms in comparison to there anti works. 

However I do feel that campaigns against things like this are increasingly becoming equal in their design.

for instance I saw this recently... 

A too young to drink campaign, against women drinking when pregnant, created by the Italian studio Catalogodiseno. I think that the imagery is striking and effective, the imagery is very realistic and I think it has been done extremely well, its not over the top, but it is shocking to see. The designers have done really well and not just its aesthetics but the concept is innovative.

'Yet some believe that veneer is only a small part of the design equation. Milton Glaser declares "Good design is good citizenship," which is probably the most perceptive definition of responsible design I've heard. Good citizenship is the inalienable duty of participants in the social contract to take responsibility for their actions- which means design that does not adhere to the standard of good citizenship is irresponsible.' 

I feel that this view is valid, Milton Glaser has clearly connected the world of design to the real world, and it is obvious that he believes that design does have an effect upon society and that responsible design, is good. But this does not explain the good aesthetics= good design for 'bad' causes/ solutions.

'Starting with the minor misdemeanours and building to major indiscretions, the following 12 prohibitions suggest the lines he believes designers should not cross.

  1. Designing a package to look bigger on the shelf.
  2. Doing an ad for a slow, boring film to make it seem like a light-hearted comedy.
  3. Designing a crest for a new vineyard that suggests that it has been in business for a long time.
  4. Designing a jacket for a book whose content you personally find repellent.
  5. Designing a medal using steel from the World Trade Center to be sold as a profit-making souvenir of 9/11.
  6. Designing an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring.
  7. Designing a package for children whose contents you know are low in nutritional value and high in sugar content.
  8. Designing a line a line of t-shirts for a manufacturer that employs child labor.
  9. Designing a promotion for a diet product that you know does not work.
  10. Designing an ad for a political campaign whose policies you belie would be harmful to the general public.
  11. Designing a brochure for an SUV which has a tendency to overturn in emergency conditions, and is known to have killed over 100 people.
  12. Designing an ad for a product whose frequent use could result in the user's death.'
I think that the list has some valuable points, but it is also slightly blurry to me, I can see where he is coming from but I do not think as the designer you would always know the policies of the companies, and in fact it is them that should address their policies, but if you are fully in the know then it would be irresponsible to work for a company ' that employs child labor.' As well as this the more designers that turned down these sort of works would mean the company would hopefully not be as well promoted and would perhaps change their own practice. 

As well as this the list does not cover the huge spectrum of responsible choices designers may be faced with as well as this it doesn't address personal circumstance. 

Five Questions about Design Ethics: Milton Glaser

Design Less Better recently had the opportunity to talk to one of our favorite designers, Milton Glaser, about our favorite topic, design ethics. We are very proud to bring you this interview.                                               


DLB: We all know about your socially conscious design work: the war buttons, Light Up the Sky, We Are All African, and of course the Design of Dissent anthology. Aside from making work with explicitly ethical messaging, how do you express your values in your day-to-day design practice?

Milton Glaser (1/3)
MG: I don’t think my ethics in ordinary design practice are different than anybody else’s. Fundamentally, I try to do no harm, not to lie, and to have the same sense of responsibility to the community that any good citizen would have. My idea is that if you have a definition of good citizenship, you behave within that definition. I don’t think it’s terribly complex.
DLB: Could you expand on what’s involved in being a good citizen?
MG: Well, it’s a long and moralistic definition, but I think everybody knows what it means. It means that you don’t deliberately go out and attempt to move people to anything that will harm them; you don’t misrepresent anything that you’re responsible for transmitting. It’s not a very complicated idea. Telling the truth is simple. But the truth is also full of ambiguity. Sometimes you don’t know the truth. Sometimes the truth can produce pain and difficulty.
But I think the fundamental thing in the design field is not to urge people to buy something or to move toward something that would harm them. Beyond that, it gets into a long and maybe overly complex series of issues.


DLB: Let’s talk more about a specific kind of moral complexity in this field. We’ve written about Citibank’s campaign that claims that there’s more to life than the pursuit of money, Unilever’s campaign suggesting that the beauty industry is unhealthy for the self-esteem of young girls, and the many green campaigns that credit card and oil companies are now running.
In one sense, all these messages are good, ethical messages, but in another sense it’s unclear whether those companies have the moral authority to make them. What do you think about designers and marketers delivering values as a form of advertising?
"I think the fundamental thing in the design field is not to urge people to buy something or to move toward something that would harm them."
MG: We know the story. If a company uses that as a marketing ploy, you still have to look at the other 99% of their activity. The idea of gratuitously saying that there’s more to life than money and then spending every other moment of your time making people think only of money is a little bit, to say the least, hypocritical.
This morning, I read that there was ademonstration at a gallery in London opposing BP’s activity. And BP said that, despite this, they were not going to withdraw their funding from supporting the arts. They give a million and a half dollars to the arts each year. A million and a half dollars. That’s the cost of a lunch at BP! So that kind of cynical bullshit is enough to make you gag. You know that, in this case, giving to the arts is totally for public relations. It has nothing to do with commitment to the arts, or with BP considering the arts to be significant. If you are BP, and you think that the arts are significant, you’d give them a billion dollars for god’s sake. A million and a half dollars a year. C’mon!


DLB: Truth-telling and hypocrisy are obviously important to you. In fact, famously, your Road to Hell test gives designers a way to establish their level of discomfort with bending the truth. It helps designers figure out what they’re willing to do for a job. On that note, can you tell us about a time when you turned down or gave up a job for ethical reasons?

MG: All moral questions are sensitive to the context in which they arise. I can’t recall a specific idea I gave up, but I will say that it is a single overriding element in my life to do my best to avoid lying to people, misrepresenting things to people, or doing things that I think would have bad consequences. But as you know it is not easy to determine the consequences of any act. As the Buddhists say, “good yields bad, bad yields good”.
It is not a simplistic series of catchphrases that we want to be concerned with. You have to take people’s intentions into account. Experience often shows that things that you think will be helpful to someone turn out to be harmful to them, and things you think will injure them turn out to strengthen them. So we cannot diminish the complexity of these issues nor do we want to make it simplistic. But I do know that I feel better when I benefit the people I communicate with and I’m deeply embarrassed and feel awkward and inauthentic when the work I do ends up hurting people in any way.
I can’t talk about individual cases of course, although I’m constantly turning down work that I think is harmful. But so much is harmful that it’s easy to leave yourself without a basis for your economic life, and that, of course, is the conflict that everybody faces. Everything is a matter of degrees and not absolutes. I will say that as a general principle, I attempt to be truthful and not do harm. How that works on individual cases is very often a complex story.


DLB: In several of your AIGA talks, you have been a very staunch advocate of the importance of ethical thinking for designers. But, outside of a few isolated instances, there does not seem to be a great deal of professional concern about this issue. 
Do you find that designers seem resistant to talking about ethics, and if so, why do you think that is?
MG: Well, I think it’s difficult to talk about ethics. In part, it’s difficult because designers are very often pressed into situations where ethical considerations are in conflict with financial needs. If you’re earning $300,000 a year and you’ve got two kids in school, leaving BP would be a very difficult decision. And everybody in life — except for saints and maybe those who are more obsessive than anyone I know — has to compromise in order to balance the elements of their life, and has to arrive at conclusions which don’t hurt them too much ethically, financially, personally and so on.
"It’s very difficult to [tell] someone else to be more virtuous, to be better or more ethical or as ethical as you are. I hate that crap."
It’s very difficult to put yourself in a position where you’re telling someone else to be more virtuous, to be better or more ethical or as ethical as you are. I hate that crap. I hate the kind of ethical baloney that people talk about in their presentation, and then it turns out that they don’t live their life that way. And it’s not something you want to check on in others. All I can say is that you have to determine in your life when you’re willing to lie and what you’re willing to lie for. It is not a question of absolute decisions. Every decision is relative to everything else that is in your life at the time.
But one of the terrible dangers of ethical discussions is that they soon shift to posing and then it’s like listening to politicians on television. Where does all that preening and posing and posturing come from? The idea of appearing ethical seems to be something that is attractive to people but then when you penetrate the appearance and get to the actual reality of what’s going on, it turns out frequently to be something very different. So I hate to put myself in the position, among others, of saying “I’m an ethical person you should be more like me” because I recognize that everyone is compromised in their lives.


DLB: One last question about a specific AIGA talk, 10 Things I Have Learned. In that talk you mentioned that the AIGA ethics code only covers business ethics. It doesn’t talk about the ethical responsibility that designers have to the public. You also pointed out that professional licenses like those that doctors have are meant to protect the public from professionals. Do you think it makes sense for designers to be licensed? If so, why aren’t they? If not, why shouldn’t they be?

Milton Glaser (3/3)
MG: I don’t think you can do it. I don’t think there is a way you could practically, realistically license anybody in the design field. The nature of the design field, the nature of the exchange of goods in it, the nature of capitalism, and the nature of money all militate against arriving at a kind of statement of purpose that says you’re not going to be uniformly motivated by money. The practical difficulties are just insurmountable.
Finally, I might note that the AIGA statement is 10 years old. The AIGA has changed its stated position and become increasingly conscious of its responsibility to the public. So, while that was true 10 years ago, I don’t think it’s true any longer. They have been explicit about the fact that a designer’s responsibility is not only to the client and professional associates but also to the public. That realization was an important one and I think it is in practice now.
DLB: Thank you very much for your time.
MG: My pleasure.

'it’s difficult because designers are very often pressed into situations where ethical considerations are in conflict with financial needs.'- answers my earlier thoughts on personal circumstance,

'The nature of the design field, the nature of the exchange of goods in it, the nature of capitalism, and the nature of money all militate against arriving at a kind of statement of purpose that says you’re not going to be uniformly motivated by money. The practical difficulties are just insurmountable.' States the nature of subjectivity within this subject, the matter is full of issues, and things that effect it, it is also full of different degrees of moral/ ethical choices designers may face, it is a vast topic.

Aesthetics and happiness
First published in Eye no. 63 vol. 16 2007

For many designers the property of goodness lies primarily in aesthetics. When a piece of work is deemed ‘good’, really what we mean is either that it is to our taste or that we think it has merit for expressing the zeitgeist or being ground-breaking in some way.
However, if we consider aesthetics more deeply, it relates directly to ‘goodness’ in an ethical sense. Is our work good if it engenders happiness, for example – if it adds to someone’s quality of life by making the world a more delightful or pleasurable place? This argument runs contrary to the belief that ethical work is necessarily less visually engaging, the result of a misconception that design is a luxury add-on associated primarily with wealth. Perhaps this belies the notion that being an ethical designer requires a self-sacrificial subjugation of artistic drive, with a resulting dissatisfaction and unhappiness?
We don’t need to have experienced something to imagine what we would feel if we were in a similar situation to someone else. Almost all world religions and secular belief systems agree on one principle: the ‘golden rule’, or ethic of reciprocity, that says: ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated’. What this prescribes is consistency between our desires for ourselves and for others. Applying this rule within design might mean we are more polite, take plagiarism more seriously, argue for environmentally friendly print techniques or advocate inclusive design. But this is not as simple as it seems. Take the last example: most designers fear that in order to achieve access for all they will have to adhere to creatively restrictive guidelines. So accessible design could result in exclusion of a different kind – aesthetic refinement. Could it be argued then that goodness does not lie in the design outcome alone but that the intention of the designer has some bearing as well?
Our ethos is expressed both professionally and personally but consistency between the two is sometimes hard. In accepting a commission we agree to do a job to the best of our abilities, on time and within budget. In exchange, we have the right to be paid as agreed and not to be hindered in our job. How then do we justify marking up print and not telling the client, or saying yes to a deadline we know to be unachievable – lying in other words? Easy – because clients think nothing of pulling a job at the last minute, are always late themselves and, despite the fundamentally neutral nature of the exchange of money for services, abuse financial power all the time. Is the problem that the market decides all? Free pitching, for example, is unethical, in that clients are being given unprotected design ideas for free, but while ours is a buyer’s market it will continue. The market will not determine best practice, so would some kind of otherwise determined code perhaps be useful?
Having embarked on this investigation I find that a consensus is emerging. Grayling argues that ‘A code that says “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” is inflexible and fits awkwardly with real life, which is complex and protean. Therefore to devise an ethical code for designers, one would do better to say: here are examples of what a responsible and well intentioned designer might be like; go and do likewise’. Implicit in this is a belief that goes far beyond the immediate realms of design: that it is possible to change many things for the better.
The value of considering ethics in any activity lies partly in being forced to question the fundamental nature of things. For designers, the eye may be the window of the soul – but one that is looking out rather than in.
See also Lucienne’s talk for Eye Forum no. 1, ‘Burning Issues’, held at the RSA, London, 23 Sept 2006 and published in eyemagazine.com.
Quotations below adapted from Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design. (AVA Publishing, 2006) by Lucienne Roberts.
A. C. Grayling . . . on who to work for
'Even if you don’t personally agree with your client’s message, if the message is a legitimate one, do you take a stand based on your own personal morality or do you act as a professional and continue to provide a service? Professional interests and obligations are perfectly legitimate, and the value of free speech and the value of alternative points of view are so great that it must surely be up to individuals to decide what moral stance they take. It is a matter of personal conscience and degree. But all that said, it remains the case that if something were really such a serious matter for you ethically, then, even if it meant financial loss or other problems, the answer is very, very simple. If it really is a moral make-or-break issue for you, you don’t do things that you don’t agree with.'
Richard Holloway . . . on tolerance
'I know you can take this too far, in that you can become so understanding that you become immobilised, but I hate the way liberals are now dismissed as floppy, spineless people. The evolution of liberal democracy was based on profound ethical values. One basic principle is that tolerance is a fundamental and necessary value because human beings so notoriously disagree with one another [. . .] Don’t tell me liberalism is without a robust, sinewy moral code. But it also believes that on the whole we should leave people to get on with their own lives. John Stuart Mill’s great essay "On Liberty" taught us that the state has the right to stop me harming you, it doesn’t have the right to stop me harming myself.'
Jacqueline Roach . . . on having influence
'When it comes to graphic design, isn’t it better not to walk away from jobs on ethical grounds, but to ask if there’s some way that you can have influence, something you can bring? Otherwise, I would have said that the law is racist and sexist, and not had anything to do with it. Your job and mine are about influence and persuasion. A judge may well have certain views at the beginning of the case and different ones by the end. Most certainly those views are not going to be challenged if I’m not there.'
Richard Holloway . . . on capitalism
'The market is a glorious thing, but it is also a monster that devours its children. Many of us, designers included, have to admit to being prostitutes in that sense – selling a talent on behalf of this great monster, the most terrifyingly powerful thing on the globe [. . .] There’s nothing wrong with making money, and there’s nothing wrong with exploiting your talent, but I think you probably need a philosophy that says in addition to that: I’m a citizen of the world; I want the world to be as good a place for me and my children and my grandchildren as it can be; so I can’t simply be the hand that draws or the eye behind the lens; I also need to be committed and engaged in other areas.'
Delyth Morgan . . . on success
'I believe that we are better served by being part of a community and helping each other, than as individuals fighting for our own turf. I was motivated by the idea of us holding hands together and trying to create a better world together. I used to commission graphic design and so obviously I’m aware of how insecure the self-employed designer feels. I think it is a very wise person who understands how unimportant they are in the grand scheme of things and can rise above their immediate feelings of vulnerability and fragility. The important thing is to ask: ‘What am I really trying to do? What are my measures of success?’ For a designer there are perhaps sometimes incompatible desires, like wanting to make a difference in the world and be rated from a pure design perspective among your peers.'
A. C. Grayling on . . . self and aesthetics
'I’ve always thought that if you want to live a good life, and to do good in the world, you’ve got to be good to yourself. You have a responsibility to be a good steward of your own gifts, and you’ve got to take care of yourself in order to be a more flourishing, effective person [. . .]
'If one sought to be altruistic at the expense of one’s own interest all the time, the risk is that it would eventually undermine even one’s ability to be good to others. Ethics is an inclusive notion. It’s about the whole quality of life. The aesthetic becomes really vital to that because to live in a social and political setting which is pleasing, enticing and attractive, and which is full of interest, detail, colour and movement increases the quality of life [. . .] Every aspect of our lives is touched constantly by considerations of the quality of our experience. So there is a deep connection between the aesthetic and the ethical.'
Richard Holloway . . . on creative value
'There is a current philosophical debate in the arts community about the difference between an instrumental and an intrinsic good. An instrumental good is something that’s good for something else, whereas an intrinsic good is something that’s good in itself. The argument around fine art is that its value lies in its being produced for its own sake not for social regeneration or social renewal – but in fact it has always been both, it has never been just one. Good art is also good for other things. So good design will please your client, it will maybe help a product sell better, but it also improves life for everyone because it can become something that’s lovely in its own right.'