Thursday, August 9, 2007

Good Or Bad?

Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design, Lucienne Roberts

Recently finished reading Good by well-known design writer Lucienne Roberts, which explores the notion of 'good design', and if in fact you can be 'bad' good designer or a good 'bad designer', and if so, which is preferable? The book approaches the relationship between ethics and graphic design, of which there has been little written about, and explores it at times, in heavy detail. Despite several manifestos and calls for graphic designers to be 'good', the industry as a whole is still trying to define exactly what this may be - Roberts attempts to offer the designer some insight into how to approach this subject as part of the design process.

I found areas of the book interesting and thought-provoking - Roberts interviews several individuals who do not have a career directly in the creative industry but offer different perspectives on what being ‘good’ is in ethical terms and how we, as designers may apply this to our practice. At times, it is heavy going, Roberts introduces philosophical theories and I felt sometimes, begins to drift off course as to what she was trying to achieve, but other sections made up for it. The final section, which explored an initiative by design consultancy A420, who created 'Sustainability Issues Mapping' - a way by which to help designers approach the issue of sustainability in their projects. This was a really interesting concept and when you explore the issues raised in the map (included in the book) it begins to raise your awareness of the ever-increasing number of them a designer in industry must consider.

It isn’t a light read but it is an interesting, inspiring and evocative source of information, opinion and perspective. For anyone with an interest in graphic design and it's relationship to society, ethics, responsibilities as a designer, sustainability and eco-design it is a vital text - this is an area that may not interest everybody but one that, only a flick through the latest advertisements will confirm, is of rising importance to clients and businesses, and on a wider scale, society. Designers have the power to inform and induce change, and as the next generation of designers, it will be our responsibility to do so.

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