Like I said in my previous post, I am interested in researching design activism, specifically how it manifests in a smaller city like Milwaukee. Personally, I think the best way to go about researching is to first narrow in on what exactly design activism can be defined as.
I came across this short article written by Product Designer, Lisa Dzera titled What is Design Activism? Dzera explains that design activism is about using your talents and skills as a designer to impact the world in a positive way. It's about creating graphics that inspire, educate, and provide a platform for voices that may not be heard. She also references a book titled The Design Activist's Handbook by Noah Scalin and Michelle Taute. I think it could be a great recourse to have for my research throughout this class as well as well into my career. She ends the article by stating "You don’t have to be the CEO of a nonprofit to make a difference. Anyone can make a difference using the skills and talents they have combined with motivation and passion. For designers, that means using your skills in design to improve the lives of others." This of course is a broad definition of what it means to be a design activist, but it makes it easy for anyone to understand.
* * *
“Design has the power to give a voice to people and causes without access to multimillion-dollar advertising budgets and to offer people alternative visions of how the world might be.” -The Design Activist’s Handbook
* * *
Second, I wanted to research into a few examples of design activism, both in Milwaukee and elsewhere. Beginning with elsewhere, I came across IDEO, an awesome design company that strives to create a positive impact through design. Looking through their site, there are plenty of examples that speak to their mission. One that specifically stuck out to me was about empowering women to prevent HIV and how experience design can reduce stigma and boost prevention among young women in South Africa. Their solution was to create "V", a brand and service that women want. The design team prototyped two designs, one that looked clean and more clinical like a wellness product, and another that was more bight, colorful, and fun. Women gravitated toward the bright and colorful prototype as it resembled a cosmetic rather than a medication. "By creating a brand image that was fun, full of energy, and empowering, the product became largely invisible to men, but desirable to women." Check out the article here.
I will add more to this post when I find an example that pertains to Milwaukee.
I am a student interested in all things creative and the ways in which design can tell a story. I grew up in Milwaukee and truly believe the city is influential within the future of design.