The Impact Of Design On Behavioural Global Shifts

How do designers influence social change?

If both consumers and designers want materiality developments, how much of the responsibility lies on the designer for change and what methods are being used to meet these demands?


Mjames1111. Milk Man. 2012. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

Mjames1111. Milk Man. 2012. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

British milk delivery began in the 1860’s, born out of the newly industrialised railways connecting the countryside to the city and bringing local, fresh and cheap milk direct from farms to the British public. Milkmen would patrol the streets decanting their fresh supply directly into containers provided within homes. By the 1890’s, the introduction of pasteurisation and the design of the individual milk bottle helped create an increase in the consumption of clean milk. This in turn helped increased the health of the nation.[1] These design stages have influenced the diet and health of society.

This is an example of the way in which past design has influenced social change. This research will explore whether consumers have the power to participate in a more central role within design. The report will be investigating the responsibility of both the consumer and designer in relation to influencing social change through design.

The term social design has many different meanings and understandings; for the purpose of this text Ingrid Burkett, a Social Design Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) gives a clear definition.

“‘Social design’ is about applying general design principles to our social realities and ‘designing’ ways to address social issues (such as poverty or social isolation), and ultimately creating a more just and sustainable society.”[2]

Social design is not just about designing new products or services for the social good. Social design can be used as a tool to review at and even reconstitute the ways in which we already go about our daily lives. Combined with design thinking, social design becomes a method that enables us to review design in a more holistic way, taking all the social impact into consideration.

The following text will study the responsibilities of both the consumer and the designer in the issues surrounding materiality and consumerism as social change. Through focusing on the UK market the report also questions; how are both parties using social design? And what direction is social design heading towards in the future?

The Responsibility of the Designer Vs. that of a Consumer

‘The world is changing,
Consumers are changing,
Business is changing,
Brands are changing,
The creative community needs to change.’[3]

Steven Johnson of Considered Creative believes that the creative community holds the, ‘innovation required to address the social, economic and environmental challenges we face’[4]. As the world continues to change, consumers are demanding more from their brands and it is those brands that are asking more of their creatives.[*] From this arises the question; whose responsibility is it to initiate the change that is beginning to emerge?

Consumers are becoming more aware of how their purchase decisions can affect their own influence upon the world. Collectively it is possible for their behaviours to have an impact on the market. This is known as socially conscious consumerism, where, ‘consumers purchase products or services produced with social and environmental considerations in mind.’[5] This gives consumers the power to vote for the services they want by spending money on brands and products they believe to be for the social good. As Johnson predicated, ‘conscious consumers are changing the rules of business’[6][*]. Businesses are adapting their brands to match these wants and look to their designers who have the skills to make the change.

There are some socially conscious consumers that take this one step further and initiate the change. By becoming either a designer or businessman consumers are able to shape the market, enabling other socially-minded people to access the socially considered products or services they offer. Alternatively, consumers can work on a smaller scale by designing and making for themselves. This ensures that they are able to live up to their own social consumer believes.

IDRC. Dakar’s Mbeubeusse Landfill. 2008. Photograph. Flickr, Mbeubeusse.

IDRC. Dakar’s Mbeubeusse Landfill. 2008. Photograph. Flickr, Mbeubeusse.

On the other hand, designers are fully aware that current practice has detrimental effects upon the environment. They are conscious of it being socially inequitable, however it is difficult for practice to move away from its certain characteristics without drastic change.[7] Stuart Walker recognises the difficulties designers have in his 2006 publication Sustainable by Design and suggests that designers are the roots of change. He also acknowledges that consumer capitalism drives the market by demanding short-lived products in order to make way for newer models.[8] This type of consumerism is out of the hands of the designer and is often driven by corporate companies following consumer demands.

Design Consultancies such as Considered Creative are breaking the mould and only offering social design solutions to briefs that are presented to them. There are also many movements happening within the different design disciplines that seem to be gravitating towards social change. These will be explored later within the text.

If we are to look back at the milk delivery example from the start of this text, we can now analyse its modern development. Consumers were able to impact the way in which milk is both purchased and presented due to materiality developments. The plastic milk bottle was introduced in 1964 as a, ‘response to society’s new preference for disposability’[9]. Eighteen years later, ‘changes in consumer and environmental trends led to the introduction of the cardboard milk carton’[9], soon after consumers were demanding larger quantities of milk, which soon appeared in plastic bottles. The changes in milk containers were heavily influenced by consumer desires. In order to create a profitable market, designers had the responsibility of responding to the current trends.

This is an example of how consumers have the power to make change. Whether it is for social good or for purely consumerist desires, they must respond to the consumers voting with their money. Alternatively designers are asked to react to consumers in pursuit of making more profitable markets. When doing so they have the power to influence the marketplace. The potential for designers to make social change within their respective disciplines is huge and can often be done whilst satisfying the consumer’s needs. Through their practice they are able to make a difference, as they are the ones creating the products that consumers are purchasing. By making small product considerations they would be taking on the responsibility of acting on social change.

What are both Designers and Consumers doing to ensure the development of social change?

‘If users can’t tell a company what to do, what should companies do instead?’[10]

Both Jens Martin and Rasmus Bech believe that great brands lead users, not the other way around[10]. This brings us back to the responsibility of a designer to make social change, but what are designers actually doing to create these shifts? And how are consumers reacting in order to vocalise their own beliefs?

Social responsibility is a huge topic amongst graphic designers. Visual communication and marketing is often seen as the driving force of consumerism, even despite the backlash of manifestos that have been appearing since Ken Garland’s1964’s publication of First Things First. ‘Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.’[11]Thirty-six years later Adbusters reprinted an updated version of the text matching what they believe to remain issues that are concerning todays creative society. By doing so they were hoping to attract a new audience of designers to follow suit.

More recently Think of Me as Evil (2011) was published as an eye opener to all creatives involved within the marketing sector. It exposed the true reality of both environmental factors and the effects of agencies upon material consumption within today’s society. Think of Me as Evil was an, ‘ambitious set of proposals’[12] that enabled companies to act on as they so wished. Zerofee, Public Media Center and Design Action are all leading examples of companies that are offering advocacy towards public interests, environmental causes and social justice. Often offering their services free to non-profit organisations and charities to help progress the cause. Graphic designers are frequently at the forefront of change as they are consciously aware of the impact of their work.

Equally, the fashion industry possibly offers the most diverse range of social design opportunities. It is widely known that many companies have switched to the use of ethical materials such as fair trade cotton and are now paying equal wages to their production staff. Although, people are less aware of the other fashion projects and campaigns that contribute towards social design for the greater good.

Fashion Against Aids (FAA) is a clothing line born from the collaboration between Designers Against Aids and fashion chain H&M. The sales from the campaign raised money for the cause as well as the desired awareness. Ideas such as this give consumers the choice to be conscious buyers. Similarly companies such as Toms[*] and Warby Parker give their customers the choice to consciously help someone. They both operate a one for one scheme, where for each product sold another is given away free to somebody else in need. Other initiatives such as Sweet Notions, a social enterprise business created in order to up-cycle and repurpose clothing donations, give their profits to under developed communities. NomiNetwork works on a similar premise but they also offer economic opportunities for disadvantaged women within these communities. As a whole the fashion industry is a source of great power for social change. Consumers can see, relate and respond to these projects in order to help achieve a better socially good market.

Product designers have the training to create change but are not always fully aware of their pull on the marketplace. Tim Brown, an advocate of Design Thinking argues that product designers are able to, ‘unleash the power of design thinking as a means of exploring new possibilities, creating new choices, and bringing new solutions to the world.’[13] A small movement of emerging social design consultancies are using similar principles to help tackle social problems such as materialism, poverty and social engagement.

Think Public is a social design agency that only tackles client’s briefs from a social impact angle. Their aim is to encourage their clients to approach problems by using design thinking, by thinking public and by changing social attitude. Other companies such as Frog Design have taken it upon themselves to create an aid to help re-train designers in order to make them aware of methodologies and ways of thinking that benefit the social good. There are many different ways in which product designers can approach social change; whether that is through training, system design or even the most minimal of product considerations. It is thought that product designers have the utilities to apply social design to a wide range of briefs.

Overall designers are making the initiative to make a positive impact and change upon the environment. Although it is clear that designers within the different disciplines are not working together despite having the same objective. Charles Leadbeater in We-Think, believes in the power of mass creative collaboration. He claims that, ‘individual participation will not, on its own, add up to much unless it is matched by a capacity to share and then combine our ideas.’[14] With this in mind, we can only imagine the creative impact of social design if creatives choose to work together.

Consumers are also becoming more proactive in participating in social changing trends. The most established being conscious consumerism, where as mentioned consumers vote with their money by making carefully considered purchase decisions. When combined with Charles Leadbetter’s We-Think approach to collaborative change consumers are able to create a difference through national boycotting schemes. In 2009 one of the most successful boycotts to date began to emerge after the concerning actions that highlighted Fruit of the Loom’s ethics. A staggering 108 universities from around the world severed their ties to the company pledging to use a more sustainable business until Fruit of the Loom amended its business policies. It is thought that the company lost $50million as a result and had no option but act. They reopened a Honduran factory giving all the 1,200 employees their jobs back along with a pay out of $2.5million in compensation.[15]

Pedro, Don. Boycotting Esso Works. 2009. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

Pedro, Don. Boycotting Esso Works. 2009. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

Boycotts are not the only way consumers are using the power of collaborative change. A new emerging trend of disownership is appearing. Linked to the sharing economy, consumers are no longer seeing rental as a poor substitute.[16] People are opting to choose not to own belongings that are easily shared. Lynn Jurich claims that, ‘we’re living at a time when a major shift in attitudes is bringing on a new era–one in which people get more value by owning less property. And this shift holds the power to change all of our lives, for the better.’[17] An opinion that has previously been similarly expressed by Victor Papanek & James Hennessey in their 1977 publication, How Things Don’t Work. Examples such as the rising popularity of the Zipcar car-sharing scheme illustrate how disownership for social good is filtering through to consumers.

In an earlier example we looked at how consumers had influenced milk containers. This had a huge effect on milkman deliveries, as the service was no longer convenient. Milk and More delivery service has used social design as a way to modernise their systems and structures to reposition themselves within the marketplace. The company uses electric powered milk floats, have introduced other locally sourced produce and have created an online delivery database. This has created a more effective social enterprise that consumers are happy to pay for.

There are many different social design and enterprise methods that are currently in place. The diversity within the design disciplines as well as amongst them is quite interesting. Initiatives consumers are using to drive change have intriguingly been designed, highlighting that it is possibly for consumers to become designers through their actions. But at the end of the day design is the driving force of social change no matter whom it is delivered by.

What is the Future of Social Design?

Considered Creative is a challenge to the entire sector—brands, government, agencies, trade bodies, educational institutions and individual practitioners—to re-evaluate their work in the context of rapidly emerging social, economic and environmental crisis. The challenges we face as a species require radical innovation at a speed and scale not seen since the industrial revolution. Who is better placed to rise to this challenge, than us, the global creative community?’[18]

Considered Creative believes that social change is a challenge everyone should embrace and that the creative community needs to become creatively considerate in order for it to work. They have taken it upon themselves to create a strategy designed to encourage the creative sector to start to think about working towards social change. Through consultancy work they are able to make a difference in what they do, but in order to reach a wider audience they have different ambitions to help spread the word about their considered creative challenge.

Firstly Steve Johnson is in the process of writing his book Considered Creative, a detailed analysis of why sustainability and social change will define the future of the creative industries.[19] They have also dedicated themselves towards facilitating learning workshops and re-training events for creatives, where they are hoping to create a ripple effect of social challenge education amongst current practitioners. Additionally they are asking for a certification for all social design agencies. This would be a logo that all certified companies could use in order to show that they are committed to working for the greater good.

This carefully thought-out plan has the potential to create awareness of social change within the creative industries, but there is only so much one agency can do and it is now up to individual creatives to take on the responsibility and act. Other criticisms of the scheme would be about the potential for the one company to influence the global scale of the creative industry. Is the scheme they suggest the best way forward? Does the industry even want to change? The propositions that Considered Creative are making are feasible, the flaws of the scheme will begin to appear once creatives start to follow suit in their own way.

If we look at the open source movement within design, we can see attributes that would help contribute to social change. Open source design allows the opportunity for collaborative change to happen on a greater scale at an accelerated rate, this is seen mostly in software developments such as Linuxs, Mozilla Firefox and Open Office. Henry Chesbrough argues that businesses should see this as a way forward because, ‘open innovation suggests that valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company’[20]. This enables more creatives to be able to work on one project at a time and to share knowledge in a Charles Leadbeater We-Think manner.

This concept is seen working in a select few companies. Proctor and Gamble are committed to innovation and developments, allowing their patents to be released after five years of them being approved or three years after the product in question reaches the market. François-René Rideaubelieves that patents have detrimental effects upon development as they could be preventing necessary changes from happening. If other companies were to adopt a similar approach maybe social innovation would be able to happen at a steady rate.[*]

IDEO have adopted this thinking into a new collaborative website called Open IDEO.[*] It is designed to allow creative partnership to happen at a wider scale on live social design briefs. It is an innovation platform being used towards designing for the greater good that utilises the collaborative power of the creative community. These are the types of projects that the creative industry should be looking to work towards in order to have the greatest impact on social change.

Social design has more of an impact than is immediately obvious. It has the potential to create the social changes that consumers are wanting. We have seen the transformations and the influences that have affected milk delivery throughout the years, though more recently social design has made the business more attractive. The service offers local produce, reasonable prices and the chance to support British farmers. Consumers are opting to purchase from these social enterprise companies giving businesses like Milk and More the chance to thrive in this newly developing market. The question is, who will embrace social design as the next movement forward? And how quickly will it be before we see social change happen at a larger scale?


Social design needs to happen on a global scale in order to create the modification that is required for both designers and consumers to live in a more sustainable manner. Such new ways of living would encourage sensible consumerism, greener systems and an improved environment. This research proposes that social change needs to be design led and not consumer led. Although consumer movements can have positive effects on social issues, they do not always solve the problems that are deeply rooted within change. Consumers have the power and the right to instigate the questions that spur on alterations, but designers have the responsibility to create and lead the change.

Designers accept the responsibilities they have when it comes to contributing towards consumerism, just as consumers recognise the detrimental effects of materiality. Movements are happening within the creative industry, though unfortunately they have not yet recognised the collective power they would have if each creative discipline were to work together collaboratively.

Collaboration is essential if designers choose to act on their responsibility for change. All it takes is individuals like Considered Creative to lead the way and schemes such as Open IDEO to group together the creative community in order to catalyse change. Creatives will soon follow suit as the ripple effect takes action and designers start to listen to consumers. This may not yet be enough, it has been suggested that maybe the government should intervene, in order to make this new social design movement happen at a quicker pace. Should the government perhaps introduce Considered Creative’s new social design accreditation? Or do we need a separate body to set up such a scheme? These are the questions that the creative industries should be asking themselves. More importantly they should be responding to these questions with their own solutions.

Writers Notes

[*] Our current material culture is adding to our issues, but they are not the only issues that social design can solve. Social challenges cover problems that concern people’s lives such as, living conditions, education and interactions. Economic challenges are those that refer to actions concerning the government, for example, unemployment rates, trade policies and budgets. Environmental challenges are those that concern the environment, for instance, the use of natural resources, sustainability and the rise of global warming. Consumers are becoming increasing aware of these factors and are beginning to show their support for social change in various manners that are explored in the main body of text.

It is also key to mention that material culture is sometimes perceived as a negative approach to these challenges; in reality material culture is often needed to help boost the economy. Therefore we need to seek a balance between the two without eradicating the other.

[6*] An example of consumers changing the rules of business lies within the history of Tupperware. On many occasions Tupperware changed businesses plans in response to both their consumers and party planners opinions. One instance of this would be when Tupperware was first introduced into the Japanese market. The company had to respond to the different cultural needs of the continent so released a new range of products only available within the Japan.

[*] Toms is a footwear company that pledges to give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased by the consumer. They go on annual shoe drops in Africa, where volunteers pitch up and fit the shoes to every child they approach. Warby Parker takes a similar approach by donating a pair of glasses for every sold to a social enterprise company. They set up economic opportunities at reasonable costs that create local businesses that can sell the glasses at reduced prices to those in need.

[*] I am a believer that patents have there uses as well as there hindrances. It is important that people are rightly credited and acknowledged for their work. On the other hand if others are not permitted to explore the potential of the work we could be unknowingly stunting important developments. It links back to creative collaborative change, the power of working together.

[*] Open IDEO is a website that was set up to provide a collaborative creative community amongst designers. The website regularly publishes live social briefs that have been given to the company. Through set timescales data can be sent via the website to be reviewed by others and then used as seen fit for the development of the briefs. This could be anything from development ideas, research and prototypes. More can be found at

Reference List

[1]“150 Years of Milkmen.” Milk & More. Dairy Crest, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.

[2]Burkett, Ingrid. “What Is Social Design?” Web log post. The Centre for Social Impact. N.p., 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.

[3]Johnson, Steven. “Social Design for the Other 90%.” Social Design Talks. Central Saint Martins University, London. 26 Nov. 2012. Lecture.

[4]“About.” Considered Creative. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2012. <>.

[5]“Socially Conscious Consumerism.” Network for Business Sustainability (2011): n. pag. Network for Business Sustainability. Primer. Web. 3 Jan. 2013. .

[6]Østerby, Liselotte. “The Power of Conscious Consumerism …and How Social Media Is Accelerating Ethical Shopping.” Weblog post. The Fair Pages. N.p., 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. <>.

[7]Walker, Stuart. Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice. London: Earthscan, 2006. 34-35. Print.

[8]Walker, Stuart. Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice. London: Earthscan, 2006. 170. Print.

[9]Williamson, Johnny. “Creating a 21st Century Plastic Milk Bottle.” Web log post. Manufacturing Digital. N.p., 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 2 Jan. 2013. <>.

[10]Martin, Jens, and Rasmus Bech. “User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea.” Fast Co.Design (2011): n. pag. Fast Co.Design. 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.

[11]Adbusters. “First Things First.” Eye Magazine Autumn 1999: n. pag. Web.

[12]Alexander, Jon, Tom Crompton, and Guy Shrubsole. Think of Me as Evil. Rep. N.p.: Public Interest Research Centre, 2011. Print.

[13]Brown, Tim. “Designing Tomorrow-Today.” Change by Design. New York: Collins Business., 2009. 242. Print.

[14]Leadbeater, Charles. We-think. London: Profile, 2008. 6. Print.

[15]“Successful Consumer Boycotts.” Successful Consumer Boycotts: Ethical Consumer. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

[16]Curry, Andrew, and Christina Hughes. The Future of Sustainable Transport in Europe. Rep. N.p.: Ford, n.d. Print.

[17]Jurich, Lynn. “Why This CEO Doesn’t Own A Car: The Rise Of Dis-Ownership.” Co.Exist. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

[18]Johnson, Steven. “About.” Considered Creative The Book Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

[19]Johnson, Steven. “The Book.” Considered Creative The Book Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

[20]Chesborough, Henry. Open Innovation:Researching a New Paradigm: Researching a New Paradigm. N.p.: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Picture List

Image 1. Mjames1111. Milk Man. 2012. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

Image 2. IDRC. Dakar’s Mbeubeusse Landfill. 2008. Photograph. Flickr, Mbeubeusse.

Image 3. Pedro, Don. Boycotting Esso Works. 2009. Photograph. Flickr, n.p.

Image 4. OpenIDEO. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Further Reading


Brown, Tim. “Designing Tomorrow-Today.” Change by Design. New York: Collins Business., 2009. 242. Print.

Chesborough, Henry. Open Innovation:Researching a New Paradigm: Researching a New Paradigm. N.p.: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Clarke, Alison J. Tupperware: The Promise of Plastic in 1950s America. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1999. Print.

Leadbeater, Charles. We-think. London: Profile, 2008. 6. Print.

Walker, Stuart. Sustainable by Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice. London: Earthscan, 2006. 34-35. Print.


Collaborative Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2012. <>.

Considered Creative. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2012. <>.

Design Action Collective. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.

Designing for Social Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. Milk & More. Dairy Crest, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.

Designing for Social Change. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2012. <>.

OpenIDEO. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

Public Media Center. N.p., 2007. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.

Social Change UK. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

Social Design Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

Zerofee. Good Thinking – An Ethical Graphic Design Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.


“Successful Consumer Boycotts.” Successful Consumer Boycotts: Ethical Consumer. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

“The History of Milk Delivery in the UK.”, 14 June 2010. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.

Burkett, Ingrid. “What Is Social Design?” Web log post. The Centre for Social Impact. N.p., 11 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.

Drenttel, William. “Designing for Social Change.” Design Observer. N.p., 20 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Gabor, Andrea. “The Promise (and Perils) of Open Collaboration.” Web log post. Andrea Gabor. N.p., Autumn 2009. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

Greenhouse, Steven. “Labor Fight Ends in Win For Students.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 19 Jan. 2013.

Johnson, Steven. “Social Design for the Other 90%.” Social Design Talks. Central Saint Martins University, London. 26 Nov. 2012. Lecture.

Jurich, Lynn. “Why This CEO Doesn’t Own A Car: The Rise Of Dis-Ownership.” Co.Exist. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2013. <>.

Martin, Jens, and Rasmus Bech. “User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea.” Fast Co.Design (2011): n. pag. Fast Co.Design. 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 18 Jan. 2013. <>.

Østerby, Liselotte. “The Power of Conscious Consumerism …and How Social Media Is Accelerating Ethical Shopping.” Weblog post. The Fair Pages. N.p., 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. <>.

Shea, Andrew. “Designing for Social Change: Stumbles to Strategies.” AIGA. N.p., 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Shea, Andrew. “Flies in Urinals: The Value of Design Disruptions.” Design Observer. N.p., 05 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.

Williamson, Johnny. “Creating a 21st Century Plastic Milk Bottle.” Web log post. Manufacturing Digital. N.p., 24 Oct. 2012. Web. 2 Jan. 2013. <>.

Online Exhibition

“From Dairy to Doorstep.” Historic New England. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2012. <>.


“Socially Conscious Consumerism.” Network for Business Sustainability (2011): n. pag. Network for Business Sustainability. Primer. Web. 3 Jan. 2013. .

Adbusters. “First Things First.” Eye Magazine Autumn 1999: n. pag. Web.

Alexander, Jon, Tom Crompton, and Guy Shrubsole. Think of Me as Evil. Rep. N.p.: Public Curry, Andrew, and Christina Hughes. The Future of Sustainable Transport in Europe. Rep. N.p.: Ford, n.d. Print.

Interest Research Centre, 2011. Print.

Rideau, François-René. Patents Are An Economic Absurdity. Rep. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Why I Did Not Accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I would like to thank Nicola and Claire for my ALS ice bucket challenge nominations. You have successfully done your part in raising awareness of ALS (Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis). ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, it is a condition I perviously had not heard of until watching both your videos and doing my research into the story behind the challenge. If you are not familiar with the challenges origins take a look at Peter Frates story here…….

I think the awareness and money raised through the ALS ice bucket challenge is phenomenal and I can’t fault it. I however have decided not to accept my nominations.

There are over 1.2 million charities worldwide and 180,000 are registered in the UK alone. I think it is fantastic that one viral challenge can make 1 of those million good causes known, but I can’t help think that there are thousands of other charities struggling who are unable to breach the conscience of the population in the same way.

Because of the sheer number of charities there are in this world I am a strong believer that charity always starts at home, with a charity close to your heart. (Much like Peter Frates friends). My chosen charity is always TRACKS a charity funded pre-school for children with autism. My brother attended TRACKS and without their support he would not be the character I know today.

As well as believing that charity starts at home, I also think it is in our best interests to be conscious of those who are more disadvantaged than us elsewhere in the world. Matt Damon highlights this exact issue in his own ice bucket challenge.

I had considered doing something similar myself with collected rainwater, although I don’t think doing the challenge really aligns with my own beliefs in charity giving. Those of you that know me well will know that I personally prefer to give my time to cause rather than my money. Which is why this evening after having written this post I chose to contact my chosen charity TRACKS  to offer them a few hours of my time.

With this in mind I would like to nominate Meredith, George & Pooja to think about a charity that is close to them and to give something to help aid their cause. This could be in the form of a donation of money or time, or even a video/song to help create awareness for the charities cause. The only thing I ask is that you document what you do and nominate 3 of your friends to give back in a similar way to you. Refer them to this post if you need to but keep the good giving going.

To Nicola, Claire and the other readers of this post – although some of you have already partaken in the ice bucket challenge I would like to re-nominate you to consider my above proposal and to partake in giving to a charity that is close to your heart.

Further Information:

ALS Association –
MNDA, the British equivilant to the ALS Asociation –
Water.Org, Matt Damons water aid chairty –
TRACKS, my chosen charity –

A New Beginning

It’s been a long time since I was last into the habit of blogging. As an undergraduate I used to write about the repurposing of our ‘belongings’* and how we can challenge our thinking to redirect current trends.

I still hold the values and beliefs I had back then, but my current views on them have developed, widened and been tailored to things I have learnt along the way.

This evening I attended a social design talk at CSM on a new DIY toolkit for social impact. Not only did this talk remind me of how much I doubt the usefulness of a tool kit, it reminded me of the first talk I attended within the series about 18 months ago.

If I’m honest, I only attended the event as an excuse to be in London so that I could try to hold on to a relationship that I have since realised had probably already run its course. On reflection though, despite all the hurt and upset that trip caused me, I actually have him to thank for the personal journey I have since pursued. As it was that one talk I forced myself to attend that opened my eyes to the world of social design and sent me on the path I am today.

Since my last blog post I have graduated Plymouth University twice, once with a BA in Product Design and the second with a MA in Design. I chose to do the masters to continue the explorations and themes I began to touch on in the undergraduate.

It’s then that I attended the first talk mentioned above and wrote my first essay on a designer’s role within the social sector, (essay to follow). During this time I also met some fabulous people from all around the world. It wouldn’t be fair to start naming names but I can’t neglect mentioning Meredith (Check out her work here) as together we continuously built on each other’s curiosity in relation to social change.

This curiosity resulted in our joint venture; ‘The Hive’. A project, which is a social design concept, that builds on a circular economy to create inviting bee friendly communities that educate and provides jobs.

This project went on to win the Change Makers category of the RSA Student Design Awards 2014 and resulted in me partaking in an internship as a graphic designer for Waitrose.

Waitrose was a brilliant experience, I discovered they were much more of a socially responsible company than I initially realised. However, I knew that my heart wasn’t solely in it and that it wasn’t really for me. I wanted to stay true to my roots and have more of a hands on involvement within the social sector.

Which is when I found Year Here. I initially became aware of Year Here during my Masters research and so jumped at the opportunity to intern for them. I really value the work of the Year Here program and believe that insights really do start from the ground up. I have learnt so much being in the middle of a small start up, and have also met some amazing people, who all share my common goal and are willing to use their diverse backgrounds to achieve it. (Find out more here).

Though I wish I could say the story ends there. My ties with Year Here are currently becoming sparse as I have unfortunately had to opt for more stable paid work outside of the social sector. I’m freelancing as a graphic designer in job i’m really enjoying. It may not be where I thought I’d end up, but I have learnt a lot and value the work I am doing whilst being surrounded by great people. Although it does raise the question of how I keep interested in the design sector I have passion for.

Which is why I have made a pledge to take up blogging again. I think it is important that I value the current work that I do today and use it as a stepping stone to where I want to be. This will not only be a socially curious blog but also a place for me to continue to reflect and learn about my own individual journey.


*I say “belongings” loosely as I include places we inhabit. Streets, buildings, public places they all belong to us in one form or another.