The Art of Change: Socially Responsible Design

If you saw our post on TrustArt a few weeks ago, then you have probably figured out that we are big fans of socially conscious projects here at Aliveasart. Starting an impactful, art-based social movement like TrustArt takes a little creativity and a lot of risk and patience. Luckily we have found a few more examples of companies who are up to that noble challenge. Read on, and see how you, too, can get involved!

1 Social Designer

Change doesn’t happen by chance – it happens by design. At least that’s what they think at Social Designer, the new artistic initiative launched jointly by Design 21 and Felissimo Design House. Whether it is holding design competitions to create products that support meaningful causes, or selling goods that have strong social or environmental value, this website’s primary aim is to promote social responsibility through exceptional artistry.

With each online sale, Social Designer donates of a percentage of profits to a worthy charity, non-profit, or NGO. The company playfully boasts that whether one makes a purchase, submits a design, or just picks a favorite in a competition, one gives something back by visiting the site – one makes a “down payment on change.” Joining the Social Designer network is free. So if you’re interested in becoming a part of the initiative, visit the site, and start making an impact!


2 Winterhouse Institute

The Winterhouse Institute is a small yet established powerhouse that writes, produces and publishes work to advance the dialog around community, politics, and design. It is headed by Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel, who are both founding editors of Design Observer and prolific graphic designers, to boot.

In January 2009, the Winterhouse Institute began a two-year project to build collaboration around social impact within the design industry. Catching on to the growing interest in creative, socially-focused initiatives, the Institute now works to establish best practice methodologies, better match of resources to needs, and promote of the promise of design as an avenue to innovative solutions. Recent projects include:

Polling Place Photo Project
Supported by AIGA, the project is a nationwide experiment in citizen journalism to capture democracy in action. It is an archive of photographs taken by citizens at their polling places on election day. For the 2008 election cycle, the project was supported by The New York Times, as a part of its political coverage.

Winterhouse Writing Awards
These awards seek to increase the understanding and appreciation of design, both within the profession and throughout American culture. A program of AIGA, the annual awards recognize excellence in writing about design, and encourage the development of young voices in design writing, commentary and criticism.

The Rockefeller Foundation is just one of several institutions who support Winterhouse in its quest to promote design as mode of social change. If you, too, believe that designers can make sustained and human-scaled contributions to solve social and environmental problems, visit the Winterhouse Institute website for more information.

About the author

Yolanda Muchnik is the Founder of Aliveasart. A working professional with a passion for the visual and performing arts, she's got a soft spot for all things creative. In addition to ten years of formal dance training, Yolanda has experience as a graphic artist, a management and strategy consultant, and digital marketer.

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