Do Good Design: How Designers Can Change the World
? 2008: David B. Berman
As ethics chair for the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada, David Berman was responsible for the develpement of the RGD and GDC code of ethics, now used by Icograda as a template for national graphic design organizations worldwide. In Do Good Design Berman goes beyond conventional design ethics, taking to task a profession that, too often, is paid to create deceptive or exploitative images in support of a highly destructive form of consumerism based on invented needs. “Overconsumption,” he writes, “is fueled most powerfully by clever visual arguments to convince everyone (including larger, growing Developing World populations) to consume more and more. Our impact as designers and as consumers of design is huge. We should be held responsible”.
The great American industrial designer Raymond Loewy famously refused only one job in his career: that of creating a more lethal anti-personnel hand-grenade for the American military. Berman could rightly be accused of overestimating designers’ influence in the battle between global consumerism and more humane values. Yet, while designers didn’t start the war, there is no denying that they often do help make the “weapons of mass deception” more lethal. Designers are not defense lawyers, they are not obliged to defend their clients’ malevolent actions, indeed they are ethically bound to refuse to do so (and even defense lawyers are legally prohibited from knowingly lying). Designers must not excuse their involvement in the creation of damaging messages by hiding behind the design brief. Rather Berman demands that they be guided by the overwhelming contemporary imperative to do good. (2008: Peachpit Press; ISBN 9780321573209)
Watch here for news of a possible upcoming Toronto panel-discussion featuring Mr. Beman. In the meantime, listen to the a pair of interviews with the author, the first is Author Talk with Peachpit Press publisher Nancy Aldrich-Ruenze, about the book itself:
the second, about the democratization of design, is from CBC Radio’s All In A Day with Adrien Harewood:
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