Social responsibility is a major focus in the design realm now. When Victor Papanek wrote Design for the Real World, in the early 1970s, the ideas of responsibility in design and design for social good were so new. Since that time, we have seen manifestoes like “First Things First”1, and the emergence of other social design projects popping up all around the world; projects such as Project H, Project M and AIGA’s “Design for Good” project. Today it is important that designers care about environmental, social and behavioral impacts of what they design. Paying attention to design for social good and other concepts such as sustainability, used to give credit to an artifact before but they are vital necessities at this stage. It is more likely nowadays
for a product, a graphic design, a system or a service to be criticized for its neglecting more humane issues beyond the issue of economic profit and the production process.
We as designers are more responsible for the world we are living in, since now, more than two centuries after the Industrial Revolution; we are better able to see the impact of design on society, nature and environment. Also now that basic problems have been solved -clean water is brought to houses, there is electricity in cities, and most roads are passable- we are entangled with more difficult problems. We need to focus on solving political, social, behavioral and environmental aspects of human life.
“The Flying Classroom” (link to FB) is a volunteer project being carried out in Iran. A group of people passionate about social activism and art, are gathered to spread concepts such as beautification, sustainability, respect for nature, etc. in deprived regions of the country. The main focuses of the project are children and the main place for projects to happen is at schools. In every project the team goes to an underdeveloped part of Iran in order to hold art workshops for students of a school in that area, and then design parts of the school with students’ handcrafts.
On our third trip we went to a village – Hajiabad- near Birjand in Eastern part of Iran. Because of the long droughts in that region, our concept was about water and rain. Along with the storytelling, health and music classes, we held workshops in which students made little fish dolls, Origami cranes and musical instruments that produced the sound of rain. With all of these things, we made a “room of rain” in a hall in part of the school.