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Our Hopes For The Way forward for Design – Design*Sponge


Pattern above by Deanne Cheuk (download here)

This is the final week of Design * Sponge. I’ve been scared to write this sentence all summer, but the time has come and I want these last few posts to go beyond products or trends. For me, the heart of the design has always been that People behind the things we love – what makes them tick, what inspires them, and what we can all do to support the creative community we love. As we close this chapter and look to the future, I wanted to share our hopes, wishes, and dreams for this community that we have come to know and love so well. But before I jump in I would like to know: What do you hope for in the future of design? How should design look, sound, feel and work in the future? What do you hope for in the future of design media? I would like to know how you are feeling and what we can hopefully leave here so that future bloggers, makers, and community leaders can take them with us when they start New Chapter.

  1. Inclusivity across the board. The biggest mistake I made in my time at Design * Sponge was not creating a space that would welcome everyone into the community. I know better now and am still learning, but I still hope that we can see a lot more of this in our church. From blogs and businesses to conferences and investments, our community deserves a wider variety of voices, backgrounds, viewpoints, and supported needs. I hope this will look like this as we move forward:
    1. I would like to see more design media (print, radio, TV and online). operated by (but also the stories of) writers and creatives from underrepresented communities. I want to see more stories from the perspective of people of color, the disabled, people with chronic illnesses, people who have immigrated or come to this county from other places, LGBTQ + people, people over 50, people who live in the countryside Areas, people with lower or fixed incomes, and people with viewpoints or experiences that we just don’t see enough of. Design doesn’t move forward, evolve, or become as different and special as it can be if we only hear stories that look like our own.
    2. I would like to see all of the above in prominent (paid) positions at events at conferences. Celebrities are okay, I know they promote ticket sales, but we all benefit and learn more when different points of view are supported and highlighted.
    3. I would like to see a broader setting across the board. From the imprint of print magazines to blog employees, podcast teams and at the management level of trade fairs and retail companies. We don’t see any changes in the industry if different positions are not included in positions of power.
    4. The same goes for design publishing: I’d love to see more books, magazines and newspaper columns that go to people who can understand the design world from a different perspective and background.
    5. What does this mean for all of us? I hope we can all continue to speak and take steps to ensure that all members of our community are equally welcomed, represented, supported and compensated in our community. It may be uncomfortable at times, but it is work. I hope we all keep trying to take every chance we get. (Here are a few ways to do this).
  2. A better understanding of living wages (and prices). One of the things I struggle with at the end of this chapter is feeling like I couldn’t move the needle as far as I wanted when it comes to understanding why indie / handmade design costs more and why, even if we cannot afford it, we can learn to respect these prices. I understand why we all want more affordable design, but one of my biggest goals has been to make sure everyone reading this understands why smaller design brands and manufacturers have to charge higher prices. I don’t know if we were able to do this, but I hope over time that people will be able to understand both truths (this handmade job costs more and it won’t be on everyone’s budget) without judgment or To hold shame. I would love to see this concept extend to all types of design: including box store. If we want to buy cheaper new furniture, I hope our community will keep looking into it As These prices are lower and when tied to unethical production or forced labor. And if so, I hope that we will unite to demand an end to unethical production methods and unfair labor practices.
  3. Environmental sustainability. This is a topic that I’ve always reached out to our fellow blogging colleagues at Inhabitat for a leadership role. So many of my early fellow bloggers were into ecodesign and sustainability issues and I wish I had spent more time on it. So much of my interest in this topic has been related to DIY and reuse rather than new technology, but I hope that as the design progresses we will find and explore ways to make new design greener and work together to move away from design that puts our planet at risk.
  4. Less judgment, more enthusiasm for what is different. As in all style-based communities, design has always been about what’s new, cool, trendy, and popular. But as we grow and evolve, I hope that our community will always make room for voices, styles and designs that are different, not trending, or characterized by doing something against “the rules.” Our world already has many rules and restrictions. I hope that as our fellowship progresses, we will take advantage of all the different opportunities to build, decorate, and live in a house and move away from telling people that something is “wrong” or a “mistake” or is a “no, no”. when it comes to expressing your personal style.
  5. MORE FUN. Most of all, I miss a bit of the fun I had designing when I started out. And in all honesty, I think a lot of it is because every time you do what you love, your job loses a little shine. And that’s okay – that’s part of building a business. But I always felt that things were a little grainier, messier, less perfect, and less polished. I loved that DIY energy. I think social media did it in such a way that we expect brand new products and projects to be perfectly and expertly branded from the second moment on. And that doesn’t always leave room for scrapping – a quality that I love in design. So I hope that maybe with the growth and arrival of new social media channels, we can find room for design (products, projects, media, events) that gets a little rougher around the edges when it starts. In this raw state, some really special things happen.
  6. Know our sources of inspiration: The internet is moving so fast and these days I see websites like Pinterest and Instagram as sources of images and ideas. However, it’s important to know where things are coming from – especially culturally. Cultural appropriation is a complex and nuanced subject, but our design community would benefit if they talked about more and really got involved. I want as many of the communities that created popular styles (e.g., otomi patterns, mud cloth, shibori, etc.) to be studied, written, credited and cherished as much as the people who interpret them in modern times. It expands our minds, our worlds and our ability to be inspired when we look at and learn from cultures, backgrounds and traditions that are different from our own. I hope that, as we move forward, we will continue to quote these sources of inspiration, celebrate and introduce these sources as part of a project or product that uses them as a point of inspiration or reference.
  7. Design to give something back: Our community is rich in resources. From ideas and expertise to skills, education, experience, and financial support, the design world is full of people and companies able to help those in need. My greatest hope is that our community will do more of what it is already doing so well in so many areas – giving something back. Design has the power to connect people and not only tell stories, but also tell stories that better explain problems and weaknesses in our world and how we can work together to fix them. I want us all to come together and share all the resources we have to help those in need in our community. Plugging it in doesn’t take much time or effort, but whenever you can, please do it. Whether you’re volunteering on-site with Habitat for Humanity or a local family home, or donating your time, money, or skills to a community in need near you, or starting a line of products or an entire business that matters to you Purpose donates. Don’t forget that at our core we are a community of talented and creative problem solvers. Design is most beautiful when it makes everyone feel safe and supported at home.

What do you hope to see as the design community grows and evolves into the future? xo, Grace