WHat is Ethical Design?
What is Ethical Design?
Art is the only field in which mankind attempts, and largely fails, to put a price to expression, emotion, and belief.
Through art, we rebel against conformity. Leonardo da Vinci was a clear example of this rebellion. Here is an idea of how he changed everything.
We demand changes to the patriarchy. In America there is movement called Feminist Art Coalition that aim to make public their commitment to social justice and structural change.
And it is through art that we have a responsibility to raise awareness in every facet of society.
No cause being greater than any other, and we take the responsibility of shouldering this purpose, in whatever capacity that we can. That is the ethical route.
But what is ethics and how is it applied to design?
Why is Ethical Design Important?
In a nutshell, it is to design great experiences without compromising on your morals and beliefs through an understanding that whatever you create influences real people, and the environment at large, is the backbone of ethical design.
For this to have a lasting effect, it is important to ensure that the principles and core of your business, that is the ‘vision’ and ‘mission’, aligns with your morals and beliefs.
The School for Ethical Education provides this guide on the subject.
Easier said than done, it is taking responsibility for your actions that make the difference.
And whilst you may want to take such responsibility for your ethical efforts, but often, through the production cycle, this responsibility is passed around and tends to get lost in the intricacies of the business.
What is Ethical Design Development in the Business?
So, how can you, as a designer, ensure that your creations have ‘ethical design’ in mind from foundation to completion – regardless of the production cycle?
Well, you begin with a three-step mantra of sorts, namely:
- Your task will affect the real world, real people, and have real consequences – are you sure that what you’re doing is in good conscience?
- Your behaviour will have a ripple effect on the people closest to you and will continue outwards towards the public at large – can you walk the walk and talk the talk of being a role model for the generations to come?
- Your beliefs should align with you at a core level, and you need to consider the other end of the process – think about how you’ll feel if you are the consumer, the buyer, or receiver of such a product or design. Will you sleep peacefully knowing that the correct channels were followed?
If you can answer in the affirmative for these questions, then you are on the right track!
However, the larger responsibility is now in your hands. You need to ensure that your stakeholders – everyone who has a remote chance of encountering you and your brand – are aware of, and believe in – at least to some degree, in what you’re trying to achieve.
Your staff, from the very first day, must know and be supportive of your vision. Your suppliers must understand and align with your mission, and your clients must be aware of the ethical steps you take throughout your production of great design experiences.
Dr Thomas Mahan has authored a brilliant article on workplace ethics and it is from here that we can find guidelines, tips, and tricks to ensure that we remain ethically-inclined in all activities.
How Can We Apply Ethical Design?
As humans though, we are prone to error and misjudgement – as such, it is imperative that we receive reminders constantly, through our own actions and the actions of others.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of ethical design and its rippling effect, we leave you to ponder on your role, and the design industry at large, in creating a better, more ethical future.
At Metiu Design, we are a bunch of inclusive people. Therefore, if you wish to further this conversation, be part of the group, and find out how we can assist each other in ensuring that we remain ethically-inclined, then please get in touch with us here if you are interested in making a difference together.