Finding Authenticity Through Design

The topic of my lecture to the senior class in design at the Ohio State university later this month is “Finding Authenticity”.

Dr. Peter Chan invited me to speak to his senior class for a second year because he recognizes that the students need clarity and purpose during these very difficult times of the pandemic.

The central theme of my conversation will be to provoke the students into considering the pandemic as an opportunity to become more authentic in our practice of design.

Regardless of who pays for our services, we are ultimately paid to serve humanity and it’s harmonious alignment with ecology. Designers are meant to be the evangelists of crafting a social narrative that helps bring beauty, harmony and balance through the artifacts we create, the stories we tell and the behaviors we inspire.

I plan to tell the students that they will enter a professional world at a time when more people are questioning how they live and how they are addicted to consume than ever before. People are looking for a more sustainable way of living. Designers have the opportunity to bring awareness of this new churn going on in the social conscience.

In this environment Designers must engage directly with people. Our influence and power will grow from our ability tell our clients how to use their resources mindfully, so that they can help create a balance in people’s lives. We can help them visualize the consequences of their decisions, we can help them visualize alternate scenarios of the future where, while making profits, they are also creating true value in the society.

Economists have designed the structure of how market driven society behaves on the assumption that “more we consume healthier will our economy become and through it we all will prosper”. We need to provide an alternative narrative where “more we conserve, healthier and happier we will become”.

My message to Dr. Chan’s class will be, “you have the capacity to turn design into poetry and stimulate imagination of a balanced lifestyle. There couldn’t have been a better time than today to act with a purpose.”

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