Conscientious Objectives: Designing for an Ethical Message

“If the message is bad then the design has no value; if the design is bad, the message suffers. So design must be enhance, and good responsible design makes people think, question, learn, and act.” -Steven Heller, who introduces John Cranmer and Yolanda Zeppaterra’s Conscientious Objectives, a book that aims at responsible design or design that matters. Similar to independent film, responsible design is honest and true to its content. Furthermore, responsible design educates the audience. Where as Hollywood film or commercial design is mostly interested in visual eye candy, exaggerated the message, and created false perceptions.

Obviously, commercial design is where the money is but John Cranmer and Yolanda Zeppaterra will help you find the balance between commercial design and design that matters. They provide tips on how to choose the right clients and employers. They also encourages you to educate your clients and raise their awareness of ethical problems.

At the heart of Conscientious Objectives is the showcase of the 10 real world projects that deal with political, social, ethical, and environmental issues. The book gives you insight look at the process and challenges designers faced when working on these projects. My favorite design is the pullout pen for TrueMajority’s political campaign, which created by Stefan Sagmeister. It’s creative and definitely will stick to your mind. I also find the process shares by S-W-H and Eat is useful. They had to work with limited resources but managed to educate their client (Ecover) to effectively market the products focusing on the environmental friendly direction. Of course, other projects are inspirational as well.

Although design that matters might not win you any graphic design awards, it does make a different. True design is always remembered. So buy it, read it, study it, and apply it to your own work. Conscientious Objectives is an invaluable and inspirational source for graphic designers.