Design for Change – Manifesto

Here is a link to a video that really well illustrates what the First Things First and FTF 2000 manifestos are, I believe, all about.

Emily Pilloton: Design for Change.

This is Emily Pilloton, a designer who decided to quit her job when she realised that what she was doing wasn’t “the right thing.” She speaks of a “uhuh… moment”, when she suddenly clicked and decided to take the next step.

I believe the FTF texts are all about this “click”, this “uhuh… moment”. Far from being “idealistic”, they are realistic.
They just draw out the evidence of what we, designers, graphic designers… using our skills and experience, are able to do and communicate for and what actually we are mainly doing and communicating for.
It just brings to light what a lot of us already think ; that we have a much greater and important role to play in the society. It just says ” Come on you guys ! Let’s face our responsibilities”.
It is exactly the same thing as she’s saying : design, graphic design, visual communication… is about problem solving and it rarely gets to look at the real problems. It is, not entirely, but highly “misguided” and it needs to be balanced, to change. This is REALITY !
We need to face and take in consideration this “huhu… moment”, this ” that’s wrong” feeling and act upon it.

One’s might think that this is easier said than done. That it is just some of the most powerful designers that can possibly act this way.
Well, well, well, I thought this example was paticularly speaking because Emily Pilloton isn’t a famous, well-known, advertised nor rich designer and yet, not being all this hasn’t stopped her dealing with things that matter.

Yes, it is about thinking, hardworking, time and energy. And yes you might lose money or at least not earn any, and, I’m sorry, but this is no real excuses. Indeed, isn’t it, more or less, already how it is ?
Aren’t you already spending time, energy, struggling and often being underpaid for working on some worthless or trivial purposes ?

BTW this website is full of interesting videos, projects and people.
Check it out !


Posted on February 22, 2011, in Manifesto. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. christianarvidsson

    It is commendable to stand up and say ‘no’, to instead find other ways of working according to your beliefs. An excuse it may be, but it is hard to face a situation where you’re not earning money, if you’re on your own. Can you say no to working on a certain project as the client promotes a product you feel uncomfortable marketing without being labelled ‘difficult’ and maybe even find yourself ‘phased out’ and eventually without a job? Or do you do what Emily Pilloton did; walk out? It’s true, it has to start somewhere, but it takes a strong person to do so.
    If you’ve finished your education and found yourself a job that pays the bills, are you then willing to give that security up to fight for your opinions? You need to know where to turn to find the more worthwhile projects to work on, or to have the drive to go out and find them, and hopefully making some money to sustain yourself. Otherwise you might find yourself having to do other kinds of work that has nothing to do with design, as you still need to eat and have a place to sleep. As money makes the world go round, it takes courage to stand up for your ideals as it can be a hard road to travel.

  2. I totally agree and appreciate the direction that Emily Pilloton went to with her design, however I ask myself is what she saying is connected just to design or is it part of a bigger way of thinking. A doctor can decide to help the homeless in L.A instead of working in a private practice etc. so is it about design ? or about sustainability and improving our world no matter what your profession is ?

    • Well what is the point about what Emily Pilloton (and the Manifesto) is saying is that we don’t, generally, use our skills and experience on the real problems. As she says design (it is also true fro graphic design) is “misguided”. A doctor use his skills and experience to ill people, whoever it is. I guess whenever this profession would be misguided it would harm and kill people :/

  3. For my part, as my dad (architect) always told me, I think we have the chance, as we are at the beginning of our participation in graphic design, to choose and have a real point of view on our decisions and choices of work. As a matter of fact I already have some bad experiences with clients and I already had the need to step away and say no to some work. It was hard for me but I think it’s a step which took me farther and made me a lot mature. I had the ability to say no because I didn’t have yet some much big needs of money so my point of view can be discussed.
    I also think that in one life you need to make a change and take part in the evolution of graphic design (or others professions) to make a difference so that when you look back at your work you can see you created something not only for you but for others that can change maybe something in this big world. Maybe it is an idealistic thought but I will keep up with that because it’s my education.

  4. joanaoliveira

    No matter what our background/education is, where are we in your lives (are we students, recent professionals – or both -, or have enough years doing the job), how many people depend on us financially or if we are by ourselves in the world and still have to make some kind of profit to sustain our living…there’s always something we can do to make this world a better can be a really small step, but it’s still a step and multiplying that by “how many designers exist already in the entire world”, the difference will be will matter, some how!

    There’s really no excuse not to be part of the social concerned ones. We don’t need to say NO, necessarily, we can work around some issues, argue our way out, make a voice or try a common ground between our beliefs and the things we stand against. Somewhere a long the way, it’s better to say something, regardless of how simple it appears to be (‘harmless’ to our personal lives).

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