"Design and culture converge around literacy, equity, society."
Bruce Mau Studio works in print (Zone Books and I.D. magazine) as well as in architectural practice (environmental graphics and wayfinding). "Massive Change: The Future of Global Design" a exhibit, a book, a website, an initiative) with the goal of "exploring the legacy and potential, the promise and power of design in improving the welfare of humanity" based off of interdisciplinary thinking. Worked with 100 designers (people who were changing the world whether they knew it or not, whether they called themselves "designers" or not).
He's interesting to me because he looks like just about the happiest designer in the world, all pictures of him are of him laughing, that kind of deep throated, tilt your head back kind of laugh. He must be doing something right.
I've often asked myself whether or not design was as "impotent" and "frivolous" as Sagmeister talks about at the beginning of the article. Frankly, he's right. We as a field encourage people to buy more junk, we portray others to the best of their ability whether or not they are a good cause or not, and we help others take credit for doing something good, even if they only did a good deed for the publicity. Even after listening to the Hallmark Symposium lecture about the M Project, and trying to talk to my friends about what I learned, I had some difficulty articulating what skills the designers brought to the project to make change. Uh, so they made these cool posters and got donations for these water pump. Oh, that's cool, my friends said. Okay, so maybe I didn't do the best job describing that good deed, but it laid down a real question in my mind. So you have science trying to cure cancer, what are we doing besides making posters?
Well I think that Sagmeister answers that question for me, design helps us remember important events (like the 9/11), it simplifies our life (the metro card), it unifies (any flag), it makes the world a safer place (clear directions for medication), it helps people rally behind a cause (posters!), and make us more tolerant (these are just to name a few). So like Sagmeister says, if design is this good, that's a pretty great reason to get out of bed in the morning and design. :) Some useful inspiration and motivation for a design student.