Not Anarchy in the UK: How Can Designers Promote Social Values?

By Mikel Horl and Pete Nevin.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design has a great responsibility in society. It is one of the most important drivers in our culture, yet it often goes unnoticed or unrecognised. To affect positive change we have to stop peddling “drugs” in the form of eye-candy and designer façades and set about establishing a value system, providing constructive services to society. Design needs to be people-serving and to operate within society, not without. As educators directing design curricula in a changing world, we have to ask ourselves significant questions about the role of designers in this society and as a cultural force. The summer of 2011 in England saw scenes of people looting the latest consumer commodities, leading to a sense of despair at a society that values hollow consumer objects above real values. As the Arab world riots for democracy, our children riot for sportswear and KFC. Our current obsessions with celebrity and achievement, often unmerited, are only symptoms of a greater malaise. We believe that human values provide the key to happiness and a balanced society. First and foremost it is essential to value the self. This requires opportunity for genuine reflection and growth as an individual with a sense of one’s attributes and abilities. It is also essential to value one’s relationships with others, to value friendship and family, to be rewarded on merit and to work for the good of others. However, to truly value the self, one needs to feel valued. Here is the fault-line, disenfranchised people, most notably young people who feel they already have been discarded, pursue magpie baubles: material trophies from a meaningless crusade. This paper explores the role of design within a social context.

Keywords: Creative, Design Curriculum, Responsibilities of Designers, Social Design, Human Interaction, Future Design, Service Design, Information Design, Desire, Human Needs

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 769.702KB).

Mikel Horl

Postgraduate Coordinator, Future Design, Digital Arts and Design Academy, Teesside University, Middlesborogh, UK

Mikel Horl is a graphic artist, designer, publisher and educator. In London in 1994 Horl co-founded the Angels of Georges Braque (AgB) graphic arts collective with Pete Nevin. AgB exhibited and initiated numerous creative and educational activities in the late 1990s in the UK, the Baltic States and Canada. Horl has for many years explored the creative potential of sequence and the multiple in creative production and has made and shown graphic works in a range of traditional and digital media. In 2011 he delivered a paper to the Electronic Visual Arts conference in London, proposing new directions for creative publishing. Mikel Horl established the MA Future Design and the Digital Arts and Design Academy at Teesside University in 2008 and continues to co-ordinate Art and Design postgraduate study. Horl’s recent and current projects investigate social design, design activism and interdisciplinary art and design.

Prof. Pete Nevin

Chair and Dean, School of Creative Design & Interactive Media, Universitas Siswa Bangsa Internasional, Jakarta, Indonesia

Pete Nevin is a designer, educator, art practitioner and writer. In professional design practice Nevin has collaborated with a number of high profile clients, most notably Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria. Nevin has been developing interactive and social approaches to art and design, utilising relationships between new and traditional forms such as "Pepper’s Ghost" and exploring the haptic nature of interaction. Works have been realised across a breadth of digital media processes and techniques including speech recognition, motion interaction, video works and large scale digital prints via 3D software. The development and installation of these works at venues including The Rotermann Salt Storage, Estonian National Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia, the Darlington Railway Museum, UK and the Millennium Dome, UK, have questioned the conventions of arts and design expression and communication. Nevin’s teaching proposes new directions for graphic arts and design and he is particularly passionate about the role of the designer in society.