WantedDesign is a dynamic connector and amplifier for global design, fostering creative synergy and serving as a pivotal crossroad for the international design community across Latin America, North America, and Europe.

Conscious Design: The Great Role Young Designers Can Play

Conscious Design: The Great Role Young Designers Can Play

Since the debut of WantedDesign, we have been observing, collaborating and communicating with design schools and students. During these 10 years, it has been interesting to see the differences between schools’ philosophies and curriculums. 

Obviously, the cultural and political background of each country, as well as the economy and priorities of government, shape what is taught at each school. The career vision and path for young designers are also influenced and impacted by these factors.

Project by Weronika-Siwiec

Certainly a few global themes have emerged in recent years: 

  • Environmental issues and the role of designers to bring solutions.
  • Design is everywhere and can be used in many ways, with empathy and responsibility, from improving lives of anyone in any country to creating the most sophisticated and exclusive products.
  • Designer entrepreneurship, or how to develop a business that respond to specific needs, and specific markets.
  • “Modern craft” (digital and new technologies combined with handmade and materiality)

We had a chance to present almost 200 projects from 15 schools this spring, as part of the WantedDesign Online International Schools Show. Most of the projects touched on the notion of Conscious Design, which is something that we applaud and support with our WantedDesign Conscious Design Awards presented with Metropolis magazine.

Kleinkünstler by Leo Leitner

“I think consciousness and responsibility is the foundation to any good design. A good design practice requires us to understand people, their needs and aspirations in various contexts. And consciousness doesn’t stop there: every aspect of design and every decision has to be made very consciously and not left to chance,” commented Leo Leitner, a student from BA Product and Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins, UAL. He won a Conscious Design Honorable Mention for his project “Yard Friends and Kleinkünstler.” 

Matter is the Minimum by Isis Dove-Edwin

A sense of responsibility and realizing how much they can contribute to respond to the environmental challenges we are facing, as much as social changes, is clearly on the top of the mind of any (serious) young designer.

Design shapes our lives and can influence the ways in which we think.  Through the creative process, this project invites the audience to engage with social justice, wider representation and marginalized narratives, through a universal and accessible medium,” explains Isis Dove-Edwin, BA Ceramic Design at Central Saint Martins, UAL. She won a Conscious Design Award for her project “Matter is the Minimum” in the category of Social Impact.

Above everything else, climate change and the way humans continue to destroy the planet and vital elements are main concerns and motivations for most young designers, no matter where they live.

And from what we have seen and heard in recent months, we are very positive that they will contribute to respond to the challenges. More and more young designers are becoming “design activists” and are sending strong messages via their work.

Home composter project Bono by Alicja Sieradzka
Bono by Alicja Sieradzka

 “Climate change is visible before our eyes, and it seems to me that more common actions are needed, education and use of available opportunities (e.g. organic waste collection in dedicated places) than using resources for individual projects. Governments should be responsible for allowing citizens to separate garbage and organic waste fractions, but it is also people’s responsibility to use it and consciously make consumer choices.” Those are the words of Alicja Sieradzka, MA student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland, who won Best Concept and Design for her home composter project “Bono.”

Products from post-consumer plastics by Ollintzin Castro Sánchez
Products from post-consumer plastics by Ollintzin Castro Sánchez

The same concern is shared by Ollintzin Castro Sánchez, a student at Centro in Mexico: “I would like to achieve a larger production, taking great care of sustainability in the development of products. At the same time, I would like to expand the collection of objects to meet market demand and with the help of the profits, I will offer workshops in communities affected by the mismanagement of solid waste so that these are re-signified and stop being waste to become resources that can be used by the same communities. I also seek to raise awareness about the importance of proper management of post-use plastics and their potential value as a material, closely involving the community and collectors.”

Certainly young designers have a new role to play, and a responsibility greater than ever. The schools need to respond to the new context we are in and continue to evolve and add to their curriculum. We need to continue to give them a voice, and we hope that governments, companies and organizations invite them around the table for designing tomorrow’s world.

By Odile Hainaut, co-founder of WantedDesign

Look back to the Online International Schools Show at WantedDesign Online