Design Can Change the World

Introduction to Design Revolution
Emily Pilloton
Read September 2010

I have read Emily Pilloton’s nearly 50-page introduction to Design Revolution twice now. More like a manifesto than an introduction, I am always personally inspired by the emotion, positive perspective, and call to action in Pilloton’s writing. Her writing is, for me, a reminder of why I chose this project in the first place.

An aspect of Pilloton’s article that I find thought-provoking is her point that the word “sustainability” should not relate only to the environment, but to other aspects of responsibility and foresight as well: environmental, social, economic, cultural, and humanitarian. She writes that

“Environmental and social sustainability are, in fact, based on the same central tenet: the support, health, and empowerment of our world, both human and natural” (31).

Framing is everything. Thinking of my thesis project as a way to empower individuals—to give them the information they need to start taking care of the environment—will help me to work with my audience, rather than thinking of them as people who must be persuaded. This is very much within Pilloton’s worldview. She writes many times that designers should design with and within communities. She also writes that we as designers

“have a duty to understand the people and environment for which we are designing as fully as possible before beginning to explore potential solutions” (41).

In summary, “Design Can Change the World” provides me with the perspective of design as empowerment, and it also reminds me of the importance of understanding the people for whom I’m designing—designing with them, not for them, as much as possible. These are high standards, but I believe they are crucial to design that is good, in both senses of the word.


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