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Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Communication, Arts & Culture, Environment

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  • Je me souviens : Portes Ouvertes

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    Concordia University hosted an exhibition of early findings by DesignInquiry: DesignCity [Montréal] participants during Montréal's Portes Ouvertes citywide design exposition (June 2011).

    Je me souviens represents the work of interdisciplinary designers, thinkers, and practitioners from seven countries. All have gathered to explore and challenge the concept City of Design.


    Amery Calvelli, John Calvelli, Bobby Campbell, Cecelia Chen, Karina Cutler-Lake, Josh Davidson, Jane Edmundson, Anne Galperin, Denise Gonzales-Crisp, Margo Halverson, Melle Hammer, Stuart Henley, Alice Jarry, He Li, Emily Luce, Christopher Moore, Jennifer Nichols, Florian Sametinger, Deborah Saucier, Joshua Singer, Gail Swanlund, Ben Van Dyke and Tim Vyner.

    Visitors may also access the dynamic exhibition content at

    Stay tuned for a forthcoming exhibition catalogue, and keep checking the DesignInquiry Journal for further findings from DesignInquiry : DesignCity [Montréal].

  • Bixi_sign_3_177_

    It’s the last day of DesignInquiry Montreal. I’m speed walking down rue Ste-Catherine to look at the handmade signs I surreptitiously glued to BIXI docking stations last night.

    They are all there. People stop to read the excerpts from stories of first time bike rides. I snap photographs of the sign with a clipped version of Alice Jarry’s bike story:

    “I had made this new friend her name was Catherine she was my neighbour from two houses down in the suburbs of Montreal. My goal was to go to her place with my new bike with the wheels on the side. I remember the bike was red. I rode my bike past the two houses and we met on the corner of the street...she’s still my friend.”

    I hustle back to my room to insert the images into a slideshow and bring the file down to the screening room. It’s time to present our results from the week of inquiry. I am first.

    I show a couple of videos from the biketarian project filmed by Hyuma Frankowski. I talk about how I see the BIXI scheme as a successful design of a sustainable transportation system then explain my mini intervention of personalized advertising posters for BIXI docking stations.. I’m back sitting on the couch before I know it - pleased that I’ve finally contributed something.

    After me, each DI-er stands up and presents their observations of the City of Design. There were too many results to describe here. So I’ve written a free-word-association summary of the 24 participants’ work:

    framing baseline patte...

  • Etica y diseño

    Communication, Communication Design


    ¿A quién pertenece la comunicación realmente? Comunicación significa conexión con el mundo, con la realidad.

  • 24hour_bixi_177_

    It’s 8:30am. There is rush hour traffic pumping through the intersections along rue Ste-Catherine. I’m checking on the handmade sign I taped to a BIXI docking station at rue Guy five hours earlier. The sign is still there!

    I make it back to the Grey Nuns residence where more presentations from DesignInquiry participants are being loaded on to a laptop. I slide onto one of the waiting couches as the lights are dimmed. Within a few minutes I am intrigued by a presentation on Typo-geography by Stuart Henley, Principle Lecturer and Course Leader from the Bath College of Art and Design, who discusses visualizing language and the ramifications of the QR code.

    Karina Cutler-Lake from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh shows us her creative explorations of rapid transit lines, maps and sublime letterpressed pieces. She admits she is moving away from commercial work at this time. This leads to a discussion into whether design needs to result in an artifact. Florian Sametinger points out that, “design has moved past problem-solving to the act of generating knowledge.”

    I think back to an article I read in the DesignInquiry journal about using design thinking to produce ‘systems’ instead of artifacts. In ‘Designing the Immaterial’ Eric Benson of ReNourish reveals the tension he feels between the desire to produce more graphic design and reduce the amount of resulting landfill waste.

    His conclusion is that graphic designers need to use their design skills in different...

  • Arte y diseño

    Communication, Communication Design


    ¿son incompatibles realmente?¿cuál es el límite entre uno y otro? y.....¿de qué forma esto nos ayuda en la comunicación?

  • Bixi_pontlaconcorde_177_

    It’s mid-week (Wednesday). DesignInquiry Montréal is picking up speed.

    We look at the exoskeletal spiral staircases of Montréal's terraced houses courtesy of a presentation by Amery Calvelli. DI framer Emily Luce examines design’s role in 16th Century geopolitics via point blankets – the iconic wool trade blanket once exchanged for prized animal furs and currently used as a corporate branding by The Bay. Luce casts a clear gaze on the trading patterns of early Québeçois voyageurs’ with First Nations.

    Her discussion about early design and power-plays segues into present-day politics of the ‘City of Design’. Luce a faculty member of the University of Lethbridge Fine Arts and new Media Department asks us “What happens when you take money and power out of the equation?” and “What does it mean to be a design citizen?” She points out that, “Even UNESCO can't designate just one City of Design. It requires multiple perspectives to more accurately represent the whole picture.”

    Christopher Moore, Luce’s co-framer, sees the group contributing to a long term project to about how the Cities of Design around the world relate. “I want to bring many people from several viewpoints together to understand my research into the larger study of the UNESCO City of Design…” he explains.

    The City of Design designation is the central theme of all our research interests. Luce further explains how the group is coalescing, “…each researcher's work contributes to ...

  • Socialbizbanner_v4_177_

    Get ready folks, start your engines! We've just launched our newest OpenIDEO challenge: "How might we use social business to improve health in low-income communities?"

    In this challenge, we've partnered with the Grameen Creative Lab to explore how social business can improve the health and wellness of people in Caldas, Colombia – a coffee-producing region of Colombia with a 57% poverty rate. Today, residents in Caldas face a number of serious health issues, including high rates of malnutrition, infant mortality, and sexually-transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.

    While the Challenge is rooted in the region of Caldas, the issues surrounding health for such communities are found across the world. Which is where YOU come in: Join us on OpenIDEO to explore how social business can be used as a vehicle to improve the health of people everywhere.

    But first, what do we mean by social business? In essence, a social business – or social enterprise as it's also called – is one that operates for the benefit of society. Unlike traditional business, a social business does not pay dividends; instead, all profits earned are reinvested in the social business, which enables it to continue operating in and supporting local communities.

    To learn more about social business, watch this introductory video from Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. You can also learn more about the work that Grameen Creative Lab is doing in Caldas and around the world.


  • Button_belt_132_

    I wake up to my third day of DesignInquiry with a lingering feeling of unease. How am I going to participate as a non-academic? I consider leaving, but after some friendly encouragement from the framers, decide to stick around.

    The first presentation of the morning is about mapping water flows through the city. The overview of water systems comforts me. It connects to my professional practice with the Fraser Basin Council Society’s Community Planning program.

    My heart beats faster while we discuss the concept of the city as watershed, groundwater flows and daylighting city streams. I learn some practical information about hydro power in Quebec and the local watershed. These are new concepts to some people in the room. Someone asks what a watershed is.

    John Calvelli, faculty from the Alberta College of Art and Design, lectures on comparative ontology. He reads from a paper he wrote comparing Montréal landscapes and health statistics. His landscape photos include the reclaimed urban landfill where Cirque du Soleil set up their über green circus arts centre: La TOHU.

    Moore explained to me on the metro the day before that the famous Montréal circus company is on a quest to lead city sustainability efforts while becoming an international circus capital. Their facility is located on what was once the largest urban landfill site in North America. The site received nearly a million tons of waste every year for twenty years. Today it is a model of ecosystem revitalisation an...

  • Stevepizza_177_

    I wake up on Monday morning - the first full day of DesignInquiry - with expectations. I am looking forward to finding out the latest in design research and practice.

    When I enter the presentation room I feel like I am going back in time as a student at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design where I studied communication design. We’re inside on a sunny spring day with dimmed lights watching a projected image on the wall. I hunker down on one of the couches and try not to fidget.

    The presentations are fascinating. Florian Sametinger from Berlin’s Design Research Lab works on-site in Berlin communities. Sametinger sits on a couch with his computer balanced on his lap as he discusses his collaborative research into sustainable approaches to interaction design.

    He shows a video about a project that has youth experimenting with basic materials, microchips, sound recorders and video equipment to envision future communication concepts. Sametinger describes another project about a neighborhood sharing system, where locals did a number of workshops, including a mapping exercise.

    Next up is Deborah Saucier's neuroscience research into synesthesia. In simplified terms, this is a condition where people have dual sensory reactions. Synesthetes may associate specific colours with a corresponding sound or melody. Saucier uses graphic patterns to describe her research. She points out that a high percentage of artists and musicians are synesthetes. I recall Canadian musician Buck 65 ...

  • la cultura global de la no cultura

    Community, Communication Design


    identidad cultura globalización


Whenever I draw a circle, I immediately want to step out of it. Buckminster Fuller

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