Now Reading: Design with Purpose

Nathan Scoular | Torrens University

Design with Purpose

The following piece is written by Nathan Scoular.

1963. It was a year of revolutionaries, with the delivery of four profound words by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And at this time, a lesser known three words were being constructed to move and shake the design industry.

First things first.

Designer, Ken Garland penned a provocative manifesto, First Things First, to call the lucrative design industry to account. Where the use of skills, talents and aptitudes were for the purpose of commercial gain, Garland challenged his design colleagues, influencers and future generations to turn a focus to how design can better our society.

Half a century later, the text of this manifesto dressed the entrance to our Sydney design campus. Half a century later, the challenge to the design community to better our society continues to be accepted.

All it takes is three words; three powerful words to motivate, to ignite and call our purpose into question. And so we are driving our purpose with three of our own:

Here for Good.

This organisation is making strides in education, but to what end? The next generation is being equipped with the knowledge-base and skills to thrive in the workforce, but if this is our only ambition, then we are providing a service to a nominal portion of society. To truly impact society, we need to cast our sights beyond the classroom. And our three words enable just this.

Our Here for Good mantra challenges us to reframe how we view the contributions we make for the betterment of others as individuals and a collective; as professionals and members of society. How this is executed in each of our disciplines will differ. But for our design faculty, there is a unique opportunity to not only teach our next generation how to design, but how to use design for good.

Design is a powerful medium; one which can create meaningful experiences to bring positive change. As a universal language, it can break down barriers, give vital messages cut-through and give a voice to those unable to be heard.

Nathan Scoular | Torrens University

The next generation of designers are in our hands. Our leaders in design at Torrens are ready to teach how to leverage design skills for good – whether it be amplifying the voice of a not-for-profit through brand design, celebrating the stories of our diverse communities through still and moving image, ethically sourcing fabrics and materials, enhancing accessibility and equity through signage and spatial design, connecting communities through digital technologies or embedding human-centred design in problem-solving.

We now need to take the leap to actively seek opportunities to do this in practice — to bring societal change into the classroom through our ‘live brief’ and collaborative work integrated learning arrangements. This means we need to be in our society, interacting, observing and interpreting. This might require the use of social impact / volunteer hours, but they are here to provide these means.

Bring your observations, ideas, inspirations and requests, because if we are all signed on to Here for Good, you will be supported.

We can strive for excellence in academia. But first things first — we are here for good.

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