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Society is a Designer

Camilo Vera

Creative Insights

Are you designing to shape the minds of people, or are you allowing the people to shape your design?

Some believe that material: the environment, people, things, shape ideas and the way we think. This is called materialism. Others believe the reverse, that ideas and thoughts, shape the material world around us. This is called idealism. These two arguments are the two main foundations of philosophy. What if both were true?

The relationship between both ideas, takes the form of dialogue. If a materialist and an idealist have a dialogue, both are teaching, articulating, or learning. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

That same idea applies to designing with society in mind. When you’re a designer, you may be focused on the notion that your campaign, product, or solution will shape and impact ideas, but ideas shape your work. What ideas do you allow to shape your work? 

Ideas must come from the people that the work will serve. Our purpose-centered design process seeks to design solutions with, for, and by the people. Listen to their criticisms. Let them poke and prod the products, ideas, and even systems.

Focus groups, user testing, and championing diversity are ways that we aim to design solutions that serve the people. It requires very high levels of empathy and reason, to hear critique. In that dialogue, you may find a solution.

Creativity may be perceived as a unique idea or expression originating from oneself. It is also said that “we are the sum of the people we know.” If society helped shape you, then society is a designer. Observe and listen to society, you may find a solution.

Aim to create with purpose. And most importantly, aim to create with people. Be honest with yourself. Are you designing to shape the minds of people, or are you allowing the minds of people to shape your design? And maybe, it’s both?

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