the student publication of the college of design at north carolina state university

Volume 39 Abstract


Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
-Robert L. Peters

Regardless of the field, design is at once a call to create newness and an artifact of the culture in which it resides. But, can they be separated? And if so, when and how do we as designers decide it’s time to consider a deviation from the cultural norms that we inhabit?

Design has long been charged with imagining a more desirable future, of being in the vanguard of new, creative frontiers. As designers it is our job to question, to identify problems, and to create better solutions within the confines of established systems. Precedents such as Modernism and the Bauhaus and the rules of frictionless UX Design and simplicity seem to rule all. Once these systems are in place, they seem to be immutable. However, it is imperative that designers do not stop questioning their necessity.

In addition, these systems act within the larger context of market demand, mass communication, and cultural norms. We are at a crossroads of reflection and action with ‘Design thinking’ as the new buzzword in nearly every discipline. Designers must take steps to usher in new systems that are more inclusive, thoughtful, and responsible. From politics to finances to conservation to transportation and housing, how can design incite action that highlights responsible human ingenuity and beauty?

The time is ripe for a rebellion. In Volume 39, we want to explore our roles as designers in enacting social change and to explore the uprising against systems as they pertain to design to move society in a direction of inclusivity, equality, and originality.

  • What systems does Design currently operate? How are they shifting within today’s uncertainty?
  • What is the role of Design in affecting social change? What is its role in building, shaping, and breaking down edifices?
  • Can we disrupt and break the systems of Capitalism, of racism, of sexism, of ageism, of ableism? And yet, how have we enabled them?
  • What happens when the once agreed upon systems begin to crumble?
  • How has the rise of freelancers and tech startups changed the norms of operation? How can Designers capitalize on that movement?
  • How can we adopt reflexive attitudes to ensure that we are designing experiences in both the digital and physical world?

Designers must ask: is it possible to create new futures within the confines of our current systems? Or does a more desirable future call for rebellion?  What happens when the design community becomes provoked, stirred, and ready to disrupt the norm?

We’re ready to Rebel – are you?

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