The Politics of Design
The Politics of Design?
Everything is political, even the act of being apolitical, which implies the privilege of not being affected by ‘mainstream’ politics. But my attention went to design being political when i read Ruben Pater’s book The Politics of Design, a not so global manual of visual communication. The book made several points about neutrality, objectivity, and universality being assumed in communication design- in terms of the implied messages, and the media that carry said messages, and how these notions are rooted predominantly in a Eurocentric view of the world. Before this, i associated ‘politics’ more with partisan politics than the whole notion of personal politics. Over time, i realised how identity and the privileges that come with it inform the personal politics, and the notion goes beyond what party you vote for and what sort of governance you support.
Design is never neutral, as long as it speaks for someone, and is created by someone. Usually this speaking comes either from a place of privilege and power, or as a trigger of capitalistic consumption. In doing so, i believe design often foregoes the voices of the marginalised, and often becomes a contributing factor to their oppression. To feed consumer culture, design becomes an enabler of unsustainable processes, leaving a negative ecoloical impact. One might argue, and rightly so, that this calls for a larger systemic change. But what can we, as designers do, not to become party to unethical practices? On a systemic AND personal level?
With our design, who are we serving, and to what end? Whose problems are we solving, and what problems are we further creating? And what problems are left unsolved?
SUSTAINABILITY / JUSTICE / FAIRNESS
the politics of
DESIGN / LANGUAGE / IDENTITY / GENDER / CLASS / CASTE / BUSINESS / WORKPLACE / COMPETITION / PRODUCTION / CONSUMPTION / POLICY / SOCIETY / MEDIA / CRAFT / REPRESENTATION
MISREPRESENTATION / CULTURAL APPROPRIATION / LACK OF SENSITIVITY / LACK OF DIVERSITY / DARK PATTERNS / HUMANS AS “USERS” / EXPLOITATION OF DESIGNERS / COLONIAL GAZE / DATA PRIVACY / PROPAGANDA / FAKE NEWS / DESIGN COMPETITIONS /
Tarun Deep Girdher