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Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Socially Conscious Graphic Design

Communication, Arts & Culture, Environment

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  • Design Inquiry - The Ultimate Unconference

    Education, Communication Design


    I’ve purchased a fancy red Moleskine sketchbook for $25. This is unusual behaviour for me as I tend towards the black, run-of-the mill, anything-recycled variety. But this is a special occasion. I am attending Design Inquiry Montréal an exploration of the ‘Design City.’

    DesignInquiry is a non-profit educational organization devoted to researching design issues in intensive team-based gatherings. An alternative to the design conference, it brings together practitioners from disparate fields to generate new work and ideas around a single topic.

    Our single topic is DesignCity: Montréal – an expedition exploring a landscape that flags itself as developed and designed.

    I am joining a group of 25 designers to explore the city. Together we will come up with interpretations for why Montréal’s peoples, places and things coalesce into the panoply of architecture, urban systems, typography, events, institutions, etc that form the only designated UNESCO ‘City of Design’ in North America.

    Montréal UNESCO City of Design

    The City of Design designation is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities designation. I asked DESIGN 21 Director, Haruko Smith if this initiative is related to the UNESCO partnership with the Design 21 site. This is what she said:

    "There is no direct link between the two programs. Yet, the link is obvious: we connect the world through design. DESIGN21 is for individuals, NGOs and NPOs, and companies, and Creative Cities Network is for municipal go...

  • Concurso Grameen marzo 2011

    Communication, Communication Design

    Lamento no haber alcanzado a subir mi propuesta para el concurso, de todas formas lo he subido para que lo puedan ver.


  • Comunication for children

    Communication, Communication Design


    Diseño web orientado a niños Yusef Hassan Montero

    Resumen: Los niños tienen habilidades, preferencias y necesidades diferentes al 'usuario medio', por lo que el diseño de sitios web destinados a este tipo de audiencia requiere de la adopción y adaptación metodológica necesaria para asegurar su usabilidad. Categoría: Diseño Centrado en el Usuario

    La proliferación de sitios web, o secciones específicas dentro de éstos, orientados a una audiencia infantil, así como el aumento de usuarios menores en sitios web generalistas – portales, directorios... – requiere en su desarrollo de la adopción y adaptación metodológica imprescindible para poder satisfacer las necesidades de accesibilidad y usabilidad de este grupo de usuarios.

    Conocer a la audiencia, y diseñar en base a este conocimiento, así como evaluar el diseño a través de sus usuarios, son principios fundamentales de Diseño Centrado en el Usuario que no pueden ser ignorados si pretendemos la aceptación del producto por el usuario final (Hassan, Martín Fernández, Iazza; 2004). Así mismo sería necesario adoptar una filosofía de Diseño Inclusivo, ya que las características propias de este tipo de audiencia, como veremos a continuación, distan mucho de las del 'usuario medio'.

    ¿Para quién diseñamos? Los niños tienen habilidades, preferencias y necesidades diferentes al 'usuario medio', que además van cambiando conforme crecen. A este hecho hay que sumarle que en esta etapa de la vida, las dif...

  • Img_2345_177_

    Janine James of the New York design studio the Moderns tells a story about how a building flood in 2008 destroyed her studio and everything in it. Every piece of paper, keyboard and prototype was drenched in an unending waterfall stemming from burst piping.

    Instead of being a setback the event provided James an opportunity for metamorphosis. She rebuilt her studio into a space for collaboration. She gave staff Fridays off. “Fridays are inspirational days,” she explained to the Compostmodern 2011 audience. On Fridays James brings a movement coach to teach her and her staff the Laban Technique - a way and language for interpreting, describing, visualizing and notating all ways of human movement. Her intention? To live an inspired life.


    I think the Compostmodern organizers may have been struck by a similar quest. The second day of the 2011 design conference about sustainable design choices became an un-conference. It was the first time in seven years that this event became a space for collaboration.

    Participants proposed topics about which they are passionate. People formed groups to discuss the topics at scheduled times. The goal was to engage in open discussions and build projects that help realize social change. And to get inspired.

    Facilitator, Joe Khirallah, used Open Space technology to invite people to announce their topics. “It usually takes a while for people to formulate their ideas but immediately, after the invitation there was a whole line ...

  • Freestyle Design at Compostmodern 2011

    Education, Communication Design


    When I went to Compostmodern in 2006 – an interdisciplinary design conference dedicated to transforming products, industries and lives through sustainable design choices – Kalle Lasn creator of Adbusters magazine bought me a free steak dinner. I was a student completing my final year at Emily Carr Institute for Art and Design and even though I was a vegetarian, I was hungry for wisdom so I took him up on the invitation. Hats off to freeganism and generous keynote speakers.

    At this year’s Compostmodern conference I had two passes: the one I bought in advance and a free blogging pass I was offered just before the event. I decided to up-cycle and give my pass to a Google employee who needed a ticket. Google has given me a lot of free tools (and a free lunch at the Google cafeteria my first day in SF) so I thought I would return the favour.

    This small gesture set the stage for a common theme running through many of the presentations that day; designers are doing a lot of work these days to ensure there is social equity and plenty of freebies for all.

    Day one of the conference was laid out at a snappy pace with three to four speakers per hour moderated by the effervescent Alissa Walker. She introduced the first speaker Yves Béhar of fuseproject as “design’s reigning sex symbol.”

    Béhar may have a great head of hair but what’s underneath his flamboyant mop is helping change people’s lives for the better. He designed frames for the "See Better to Learn Better...

  • Recomposing at Compostmodern 2011

    Community, Communication Design


    I am leaving rainy Vancouver for sunny San Francisco to immerse myself in a heap of creative thinkers at Compostmodern 2011 - a conference about design and sustainability.

    Other than the bonus weather I am excited to attend because, in my work life, I am typically the only communication designer in boardrooms and teleconference calls stacked with sustainability planners, climate change program managers and environmental coordinators. This weekend I can schmooze with a crew that will probably relate more to the ‘postmodern’ aspect of the conference than the ‘compost’.

    Don’t get me wrong, most designers get waste-reduction but what I hope to explore at this event is more than the well-worn language around material use. I believe we creative professionals are recomposing the discussion of managing intensities of waste; into the realm of critiquing and creating better systems of practice.

    My travel partner Lisa Hemingway, creative consultant, and principal of Backyard Creative plans to go with an open mind and without preconceived goals, “I want to be really present,” she says to me, “to really hear what is going on.”

    The second day’s un-conference is a set up for this kind of learning and sharing. The un-conference is a half-day session emphasizing dialogue and open discussion where attendees will be able to propose topics about which they are passionate and curious. It’s also a chance to met with leaders in the field, push boundaries and have some fun. ...

  • 6_vaseweb-with-graph_177_

    I'm no scientist. So when hundreds of the smartest left-brained minds in the world tell me it's time to cool off, I take their word for it.

    I am sufficiently humbled by their warming predictions that, in response, I ride a bike, buy apples in the fall - strawberries in the summer and wear a sweater instead of cranking the thermostat. And I wonder who wouldn't?

    A while ago I sat down at an Open Space at a climate forum. The idea was to talk about communicating climate change. Since my partners and I were English speakers and the rest of the people were Swedish we cozied up to the visiting Australian delegate and his super friendly, warm interpreter.

    As we chatted I realize that the interpreter was one of the most eloquent people I had ever met. He spoke plummy English as well as French and Swedish rapidly and confidently.

    When we started to discuss the somewhat complex science related to climate change. This man perked up and said, "I'm terribly sorry, but it's simply not true – it's bad science." Then launched into a scientific smörsgåsbord of his own reasoning for the rapid increase in temperature.

    I scanned my brain for the clever comebacks outlined in Coby Beck's article How to talk to a Climate Change Skeptic posted on Gristmill. But, faced with this congenial, smooth talker and the polite situation I felt at a loss.

    I wish I had one of Nathan Martell's vases in the shape of a climate graph. Martell took a graph outlining the rise in global air temper...

  • Sustainability Sketched

    Communication, Communication Design


    How to convey the essence of sustainability in a few sketched lines? Samuel Mann studies the schematics of the notion of sustainability itself rather than the underlying science by compiling a “zillion diagrams”. Including this poster about poverty linkages from Density Design.

    See the complete list at: Computing for Sustainability.

  • Logo for "Crafting Excellence"

    Communication, Communication Design


    Dear Design21 members!

    I created a logo for the "Crafting Excellence" competition. If you like it, I would be grateful if you gave me your votes. Either for this one or that - or both!

    Thanks and all the best,


  • Les langues, ça compte!

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    Thank you to those of you who participated in the Design21 poster competition for Mother Language Day by submitting the words, Languages Matter in the languages you know.

    There were many posts, including translations in Mohawk, Dholuo, Russian, Yorubaa, Swedish, Icelandic, Hebrew, Japanese, Cantonese, Arabic, Braille, American Sign Language and Esperanto.

    Great news. The poster was voted on along with 1133 others from 85 different countries on this site - and we were nominated as a finalist.

    I am captivated by many of the entries and feel honoured that our group effort was part of the exhibition. We also want to thank UNESCO and Design21 for the fun opportunity.

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

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