Designers Social Responsibility

Do designers have an inherent responsibly for the social impact of their work?

I am writing a dissertation on the above title and would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this?

From my initial research it seems designers are a special breed of people. We are creative people who live in a world of imagination, pushing our personal values on the world through products, services, systems and experiences. As nearly every object we interact with on a daily basis has come into contact with a “designer” do this give us inherent responsibility to try and change the way society acts and works.


I want to try and understand why this is and who should take responsibility when things go wrong or right?

Some questions I have are

  • Do designers have a big impact on social values and thus the public’s perception of their social responsibility?

    What adverse or positive impact have designers had on society and can this and should this be governed?

    If it cannot be governed then is it the public’s responsibly for the adoption of social changes how big or small are designers just suggesters?

    Perceived responsibility and actual responsibly is this a grey area?

    Who do designers really work for, public, client, the earth, themselves; hence where should their values lie?

    What is a “designer”, can the title only go a trained person or is it deeper, are we all “designer’s”?

I will not personal quote anybody within my work without prior notification through pm and will use an alias.

Can’t wait to hear what you think.

If anybody has any interesting texts or places where I could find some information on this please pm!

The Russian Constructivists sure thought so. The Nazi’s also used design to further their cause.

This question has to be put into a context. Not all design is created equal. Are you designing a bomb or a condom. Both have different social impacts.

The designers job is to the client. If your not happy with what the client wants or it goes against your beliefs, don’t do the work. There will ALWAYS be someone else to do the work it if you don’t want to.

Also, if something is designed well but not produced well, then that has to be taken into consideration.

I like Nike’s ‘Considered’ design approach. It’s comprehensive and appropriate while still striving for social benefit.

http://www.nikebiz.com/nikeresponsibility/?#environment-design/considered_design