As creators, we have the privilege of being able to shape the world around us in a tangible way: through the tools we have available to us, through the network of inspiring people surrounding us, and through the processes and products we design. The designer as change-maker is a narrative we see everywhere today – but over the last two years, I questioned why I should have this power of changing the world.
What I found? I should try to change the world – but so should everybody else. The privilege of design is a gift and a huge responsibility. Although as designers we may be talented and skilled, we definitely don’t have a monopoly on great ideas. I believe that the future role of designers should be to create the conditions that enable as many people as we can to pursue creative and meaningful lives; where they have a say over how they’d like to live, work and grow.
Perhaps designers could start to do this by sharing our tools, educating and inspiring others, and including our audiences in our conversations about the future – but ultimately we can build new systems that consider the citizen at the heart of change. Instead of seeing people as consumers whose needs we can fulfil, or as slackers whose behaviour we can change, what if we could see people as powerful actors who we can enable? We can only solve collective problems such as social inequalities, environmental degradation, and failing democracies through the contributions of many individuals who believe that they have a place and purpose in our society. A talented few from the RCA just won’t do.