While there aren’t many agencies that are purely focused on working with the social sector in New Zealand, there are other creative and advertising agencies that have interesting, influential well-designed social change campaigns (that look beyond awards entries) as a key part of their creative portfolio.
National Studios/ Agencies:
Clemenger BBDO: Ghost Chips, Blazed
Draft FCB: Yeah Nah, It’s Not Ok, Depression.org
Promotus GSL: Breastfeeding
International Studios/ Agencies:
In addition to the agencies above, there are a handful of Design Schools and Creative Industry Awards/Grants that focused on Social Design, and encourage the growing discipline of Design for Social Impact.
Social Design Schools/ Courses:
Social Design Awards/ Grants:
Social Design Events/ Exhibitions:
This is just a small selection to give you a snapshot of the growing Social Design movement overseas. (And if you have anything to add, contribute to these lists please feel free to post in the comments below.)
How can you get involved in Social Design?
Apart from the various schools you can study at, awards you can enter, networks you can join and books you can read to get involved, there is a comprehensive list of resources on AIGA: Design for Good.
On the historical side, there’s the First Things First manifesto initially written in 1963 by Ken Garland along with 20 other designers, photographers, and students; then revisited and republished in 2000 by a group of new authors. It is a manifesto to live your design practice by:
In addition to this, there are a few worthwhile publications:
Design and Social Impact: A cross-sectoral agenda for design education, research and practice, chronicles the 2012 Social Impact Design Summit:
Design for Social Impact Workbook and Toolkit, for The Rockefeller Foundation
The Social Design methods menu, by Lucy Kimbell:
At a more local level: our friends at Enspiral could also help you out in Wellington, Ministry of Awesome based down in Christchurch, and up in Auckland there’s a Social Enterprise Auckland (SEA) network that launched in 2014.
Or you could always make time to connect with us and say “Hello” over a cuppa at Curative! We love meeting new people, collaborating with creative freelancers and where possible, connecting them to social causes they’re passionate about.
I’ve been on this journey for a few years now. Social Design is an ever-evolving and changing area of design. And that’s a good thing. The social climate is in constant flux, and as it changes, so should our approach. I’m optimistic about the future, and about millennials leading the change around working for purpose over profit.
Our vision at Curative is that one day, social causes will be held in as high regard as commercial brands. That more emerging and established designers start to take a more active role in designing for social change. And where appropriate, co-design principles are employed in our design process to ensure that the final outcomes suit the community we are designing with, and for.
I have no doubt in my mind that a lot of this is already happening out there. But I am curious, if you are exploring Social Design:
How are you currently using your design skills to help social causes?
How do you envisage we can scale that social impact in the future? And…
How could we enhance the profile of ‘Social Design’ nationally and internationally?
If nothing else, I hope this article has kindled your interest in how you could use your design skills and ability to help create positive social change, now and in the future.
Jade Tang-Taylor, is the co-founder and design director of Curative; a creative agency that works exclusively on projects that help make the world a little bit better, co-host of CreativeMornings/Auckland and is a Design Assembly friend.