Changing Role of the Designer
Design has a responsibility to start acting positively towards ecological issues, not only because of the urgency, but also for partially causing the ecological crisis. Design has to address this within the traditional context of design. Otherwise, design remains, as argued in ‘Design for the real world’ (Papanek, 1984), accountable for the ecological crisis, “by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed.” (Papanek, 1984, p.1) However, design also has the potential to address ecological issues. This requires using design expertise beyond the traditional boundaries and context. Design can take complementary roles on top of its expertise. For this thesis, I define this changing role of design as a situation where the design field is expanding its boundaries, adding new dimensions, and adapting to the changing economic, social, and environmental circumstances by taking new roles.
The papers ‘Perspectives on the changing role of the designer: Now and to the future’ (Tan, 2009) and ‘Design activism beautiful strangeness for a sustainable world’ (Fuad Luke, 2009) described this new practice. In these new practices, designers take on multiple roles, like “non-aligned social brokers and catalysts, facilitators, authors, co-creators, co-designers, and ‘happeners’.” (Fuad-Luke, 2009, p.189) Taking these complementary roles enabled them “to drive innovation in sustainable development.” (Tan, 2009, p.3) In other words, adding roles to the design role and shifting the design context enables dealing with ecological issues.