Semi Permanent Part 1: Know your impact.

Anna Cernis - 23 August 2019

I went to two of the three days of this creative festival and heard a diverse bunch of creatives - artists, coders, designers, performers - tell their unique stories and points of view. But despite their uniqueness, some general themes kept surfacing from talk to talk. Seems that whether designing laptops or light shows, synthesizers or sausages, there’s some things to keep in mind. I’ve collated my scribbles into four lessons that are hopefully relevant to us all. First up in this four part series is a biggy:

Know your impact on society and the environment

“Ethics is hidden in aesthetics”, told Ralf Groene, VP of Devices Design at Microsoft. Design is a powerful profession. You can touch hearts but also manipulate people (for example, platforms that deliver addictive dopamine hits). Ensure you “compose through choice” - and consider your impact on the environment as well as society. He’s still working on it, admitting “Our packaging sucks - it’s way too much!”.

On a panel, Google’s Ivy Ross, VP Design for Hardware Products, said she’s noticed a distinct difference and willingness to do better, if (shockingly) only in the last year. Google are hiring material experts, applying more minds to repairability and the life cycle of products. All panellists admitted it’s not easy, but in the words of Bruce Mau, MCN, “we have to engage with the tough conversations”.

From the big corporations to a single designer: Carolien Neibling is working to reduce the environmental impact of meat production.

She’s collaborating with butchers to design new types of flexi sausages with veggies (and insects!) in the mix to help meat go further. Note that she’s not a food engineer or a chef, but a designer turning her problem-solving abilities towards a cause she’s passionate about.

Matt Jones, CD at Accept & Proceed, does his part through his support of Extinction Rebellion. This includes giving staff paid time off to protest, and opening up their studio on Saturdays so the public can make posters.

I think the ultimate lesson here is to do what you can.

To read part 2 of our 4 part Semi-Permanent series click here.