Designer’s were meant to serve as the creative conscience of the society. We were meant to inspire social imagination of a sustainable and ethical future. We were meant to serve as the catalysts who would help create a sense of purpose in both the creators and consumers of design. Instead of finding a common ground for both creators and consumers to create value in the society, design profession has today become a slave to the greed for speed, growth and profit through mindless consumption.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered reflection amongst people. Today we are forced to get off a fast moving conveyor belt of our daily routines and reflect about what is important to us in life. During lockdown we are able to compare what we thought were the only available ways of earning a living, and succeeding in life to what now seems possible, meaningful and important in a post COVID-19 future. Several people are discovering innate creativity in them. Some are connecting with and forming new types of communities and participating in new types of dialogues. Regardless of whether we belong to the creator/ manufacturer/ distributor class or the consumer class, we are beginning to recognize that we are all human and are interconnected. We are beginning to recognize, whether we are rich or poor, whether we live in mansions, skyscrapers or slums, we are equally vulnerable to the germs in the air. The only way to survive is by caring for each other from a safe distance, and by becoming mindful of the consequences of our actions.
Today I see a perfect opportunity to activate and engage our creative conscience. “What if” We could help develop a vision for an alternate way of living that shifts the focus from consumption to conservation, from competition to collaboration, from fast to measured, from heedless to mindful?
We can begin by shifting our focus to building and strengthening communities. We need to decentralize design from ivory towers and bring it into the community. Companies are recognizing that providing their employees the option of working from home may become a long term or permanent feature. Instead of operating from corporate buildings companies will have opportunities of new ways of nurturing and enriching community life by participating in it. Until a stable solution to fighting the COVID-19 and its future mutations is found, city streets are going to look different. There are opportunities to fill the streets with more life and joy than with traffic.
While more people are likely to choose to work from home in the future, the craving for safe social interactions and outdoor activities is creating opportunities for transformation of public spaces and modes of transportation. How might we as designers use this time as an opportunity to inject more life and vibrancy into communities and develop innovative experiences?
Designers need to use this time to reimagine the future and redefine the way we live, by engaging people who care in the design process.