Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 66: Ethics!

More than 3,000 designers, entrepreneurs, and other technologists have signed the Copenhagen Letter, a manifesto on ethics and accountability introduced at Techfestival that includes the statement:
We must seek to design with those for whom we are designing. We will not tolerate design for addiction, deception, or control. We must design tools that we would love our loved ones to use. 
From Mike Monteiro’s Design the Right Thing project to the London exhibition Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? to an interactive documentary that talks to designers from eight European cities, ethics is at the center of many design conversations. In a rare moment of cynicism, Michael asks whether these declarations are an expression of hubris, and whether designers are flattering themselves by behaving as if their contributions are indispensable. Jessica says:
Sometimes the language becomes its own expression of hubris.
On the other hand, I think in this case anything that shakes people out of their comfort zone is good. And i think if designers are starting to wake up to the realization that those of us who can make things can make things better, or can think about environmental stewardship before we pick a material, or can listen to somebody rather just tell our own story, I think some of those things actually portend really good things for the humility that the profession sorely lacks.
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Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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