Interconnections is a research project about understanding of the interaction graphic design has with the world we live in.
Concept, content and design, creation and curation, for bachelor’s research study.
In our daily life graphic design dominates. Through many years of evolution, it has gained an important place in our society today. It is closely related to many of the basic operating systems of our world and because of that, the relationship between design and society has been discussed and examined by people of different interests from many different views.
The purpose of this research work is, the deeper understanding of the interaction graphic design has with the world we live in. Wanting to challenge and direct the course of research, we ask the following question:
How does graphic design affect society and what its relationship with ethics?
These two relationships are quite complicated. There are many different factors and notions that affect them. For this reason they had to be examined from many different perspectives, through different concepts and environments.
In order to understand the above in depth and to expand them in various fields, in Chapter 2, we referred to historical examples of innovative, visionary designers and schools of the 20th century, who tried to influence society through design. The Bauhaus School in Germany in 1919 and the VKhUTEMAS in Russia in 1920 are very interesting examples. Both at the same time developed the same perceptions, independently of each other and in quite different circumstances. Knowing that the affordable price and availability of goods would guarantee the satisfaction and optimism of the population, the designers approached the design in a completely new way. What distinguished these two schools, from other experimental ones of the time, was that they recognized the need to create financial constructions as an ethical duty of the designer. It was their values, such as social responsibility, that led designers to find innovative design solutions designed to serve society. Another important pioneer with strong values and innovative design ideas was Victor Papanek. He advocated the adoption of an ethically responsible approach to design, the adaptation of technology and design to the needs of the individual. It was very important for him to understand the relationship between design and people. Sharing, and with the influence of his books, these reflections and innovative perceptions in the society, he led to the formation of a new field in design. The goal of this field, “design anthropology”, is to find social consciousness in design. As a result of all the above, the relationship between design and society was further enriched.
First, in Chapter 1, graphic design was examined as a concept in parallel with its use and its results. Graphic design can be studied in many different ways, it is both art and work. It can be used to convey one’s values and beliefs but also to create a desire for products or services. It is a powerful means of mass communication but also an effective marketing tool. It is the way of expressing ideas through images and design. Its is fundamental and dominant for communication in today’s society. The works of designers and their influence are everywhere. In national and local economies, graphic design plays an important role in creating wealth for society. Both are directly linked to the capitalist market system, freedom of choice for the buyer and business freedom for the industrialist. Graphic designers, with the knowledge and power of influence they have been given, can inform and educate citizens and customers about many issues, products and services. Including to the above, the fact that man as a species responds to beauty, the achievement of a beautiful project of visual communication brings as a result a special sense of accomplishment for the designer who informs, refreshes and fascinates humanity.
Moving on to an even deeper understanding of the relationship of graphic design with society, in Chapter 3, we had to study in depth three more concepts that are connected with it, capitalism, consumerism and ethics. Capitalism is linked to graphic design through the free market and as the dominant social, political and economic system it handles the market of labor and capital. It thrives only with continuous production and sale and consumerism as a system need feeds and is powered by graphic design. As long as ethics take part in design and promotion of goods, consumerism does not become over-consumption and society thrives along with the environment and nature. But the meaning of ethics, which is included as condition in the above, is quite vague. Its identification is quite problematic. The perception of the notion changes as the various factors that surround it change. Ethics exists in the possibilities that appear in a particular situation. This makes it very difficult to define a general code of conduct. Especially for graphic designers, who cater to such a diverse and wide audience, the best option is to follow the “Golden Rule”, which usually applies to religious belief or secular theory in general and says “do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you”. In the real work environment, however, another issue may arise. The ethical perception of the client, diverse with the designer’s and ultimately force him to choose clients. This of course can limit the income and growth of the designer or in the worst case lead him from financial difficulty to abandon or bend personal values.
So, ethics in the daily life of a graphic designer is found in two areas, one that focuses on business decisions and the other that includes the personal philosophy, ethics and value system of the designer. In order to complete our image on the subject, in Chapter 4, we studied cases in which the perfect union of the above two fields was achieved individually or collectively. Designers like Tibor Kalman always looking at the social consequences of their work and urging his colleagues to do the same. Collective Social Responsibility efforts such as the “Hurricane Poster Project”, the “Water for India”, the “First Things First Manifesto”, all with the aim of contributing to the world. Organizations like the Ad Council that has been operating non-profitably since 1942 to deliver critical messages to society. In all these endeavors, personal philosophy has made all the acceptable business decisions, thus influencing the world through ethical and virtuous design, confirming that ethical design can ultimately be achieved and help for a more harmonious and sustainable lifestyle.
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