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Social responsibility
Working Week
Roxanne Bottomley

Dear Disconnected Designers,

We are in a state of isolation. Disconnected from our friends, family and studio. Designers have been freed from the working week and thrust into sitting with our thoughts. Although many of us are still working from home, no-one is working as they were before. The state of disconnect is unsettling, uncertain and unfamiliar. Designers are creatures of habit and we want to problem solve our way through this crisis with productivity. We are baking banana bread or foraging to make wild garlic pesto, anything to keep us from our thoughts. We are so desperate to return to normal.

Normal: a place where inequality and injustice are commonplace. A place where women are paid and respected less for conducting the same work. A place where the working classes are paying taxes so the rich don’t have to. Normal is not a place we can return. To those of us in a position privileged enough to have the time and headspace to pause, we need to stop, sit in the uncomfortable state of disconnect, and think. Viewing from a distance can give great clarity. Disconnect can be a vantage point from which to reflect, rethink and redesign.




Reflect on who we are working for and with. The selection process of who we work with is a political act and every not-for-profit, charity, or community project is a demonstration of how design can build a fairer society. Who would benefit most from strong communication design that may not have access to it currently? Who is not currently being well served? Who is not currently being represented in digital media? What are the ethical implications of a new technology? How can this technology serve the public? How can you include the people you are designing for in the design process? What do our current clients stand for? Who are they associated with? How are they best serving the interests of society?



Rethink the impact design makes on the planet. Rethink the amount of material we are responsible for that is returning to landfill. Rethink the growing culture of digitisation, the technology we use and how we choose to engage with. Technology will not make our ideas better but it can help to rethink the way they are transmitted. Rethink the materials used both in our studio and also within our design. Our job is often to design things that people don’t need, but it doesn't have to be. The role of the designer is constantly changing. We have the ability and responsibility to design circular economies that both save the client money and rethink the impact our practice has on the environment.



Redesign the way we want to design. Redesign the understanding and expectations of designers. Redesign the long working hours. Redesign the studio culture that perpetuates early mornings and late nights being more productive but less responsible. Making but not thinking. Dismantle the necessity of living in a big city, with big ambitions but little free time. Good design is needed for, and therefore should be made everywhere by, everyone. If we are in the position to do so, we should redesign the staff team and who is included in our studio. How can we represent and design for all if the majority of our design comes from concentrated areas by the same types of people? Most importantly, redesign these key factors now. We may never get the time or space to disconnect again.

So reflect, rethink and redesign so that a fairer future can be built when we reconnect.

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