by Katy Gathright, Designed Good
I was inspired by Shadia Wood's latest post about visual representations about climate change that speak powerfully to people. There is definitely something very powerful about visual reminders, and it got me thinking about another source of inspiration that affects the way people think: the things we use. I'm interested in the way well-designed products can immerse us in the world of social change.
We don't always think of the objects in our lives as things we interact with. We are used to interacting with people, and even interacting with ideas more abstractly. But there is a way in which socially-conscious products are able to tie all of these elements together. The water bobble, for instance, replaces the use of 300 single-use plastic bottles. With this single product, you get to interact with the story of the people who came up with this innovative design (a sleek bottle with a smart carbon filter) and the idea of minimizing our impact on the earth through waste. From the water bobble, you can even start a conversation as broad as the kind of discussion happening at charity:water, about providing safe drinking water to those without it.
That's why we're starting a community around products that are changing the world. This summer, my co-founders and I are working on Designed Good on the Williams College campus, where we graduated last month. I remember the feedback of my friends who attended the Tar Sands protest last fall, and what I remember most was a) how energetic people were and b) how the protest was powerful because it was experiential. Students got to immerse themselves in a weekend where evidence of change was everywhere -- in the posters people were holding, in the speeches people were making, and in the goals people were setting for political actors.
Material culture can fit into this model of change. The clothes we wear, the artwork we put on our walls, the backpacks we take on our hikes are all products that can contribute to our world vision. And all of these objects can use great design to make social change desirable, useful, and worth talking about.