Gordon Kaye: Our 2021 Responsible Designers Story

This piece appears in the October 2021 print and digital editions of GDUSA magazine.


This edition features our annual Responsible Designers To Watch story — aka “designing for good” — which recognizes that creative professionals are taking control and ownership of how, why, where and for whom they work. The common thread in our selection of designers to profile: these are creative and thought leaders who use their design talent and skills to make the world a better place as they see it. “As they see it” is a key phrase for me since the issues and causes these individuals champion cannot be neatly categorized. They run the gamut from traditional non-profit endeavors to personal passions to grassroots community initiatives to the progressive causes that have currently captured the imagination.

In 2021, of course, this is all the more meaningful given the backdrop of a transformational pandemic that won’t quit; unprecedented demands for greater diversity, inclusion, equity and climate action; a broadened concept of corporate social responsibility; a polarized and uncompromising political class; and a suffocating social media environment that generates more heat than light. It would be an overstatement to say that our noble though zigzaggy experiment in democracy is in danger. But not too much of an overstatement. And, yes, zigzaggy is a word.

Another common thread among those we spotlight today: they share an unshakeable faith that graphic design can be a positive forced to shape commerce, culture and causes since it has the remarkable capacity to facilitate engagement, education, understanding, optimism. It’s a “weird superpower” says one of the cohort. Of course, we all know the truth: designing is not a super power but a blessed talent and a hard-earned discipline. Still, design has real power, and — as in the superhero stories we tell ourselves — that power is manifesting itself in meaningful ways just when we need it most.