Do good : how designers can change the world


Cover of Do Good Design

By David B. Berman
Click to view on Amazon

Do Good Design was one of the first texts I picked up when I was looking for guidance on how to be a ‘good designer’. David Berman’s book certainly answered that call to a certain degree. This small volume is accessible in its approach to the topic. It articulates the power of design as a profession and outlines the responsibility we have as designers to take a step in a positive direction. The anecdotal stories told by David, as he talks of his own personal experiences, helps to give a practical dimension to the book.

I appreciate certain elements of this book. It can be of use to a reader who is in search of the kind of rhetoric contained in this book. But over time, and as I have developed my thoughts on the issue, I am becoming more critical.

I can now see parallels between this book and the Design4Change project we ran through UTS. By categorising and listing the common possible responses designers can have to social change, the content becomes appropriate for the converted few who believe that they can make a change and are looking for ways forward. My concern is around the rest of the crowd, whose misconceptions may be reaffirmed, pushing them further away from recognising that we all have social impact and need to find a way forward.

This is an issue that has become more of a focus for me since my experience with the Design4Change Project. We found that the students are aware of the common surface actions that they can take to contribute to positive social change. Pro-bono work, much like the book’s suggestion of spending 10% of your professional time helping repair the world, features high on the list. When the students we collaborated with felt confident that their reasons for rejecting these actions were justified, for example financial hardship which is common amongst students, they felt a sense of disconnect with the ownership of design’s social impact. This is of course anecdotal and I hope to use this research as way of further analysing the data we collected through the project.



Leave a Reply