Designs on the Future
Valerie Casey's Designers Accord is a Kyoto Treaty for the design industry ? but everyone is signing on to this one.In early 2007, on a plane returning to San Francisco from her third harried business trip of the month, the veteran designer Valerie Casey sensed the first unmistakable feelings of revolt. As an important player in the design world, Casey, 35, had been pitching new packaging and product-design strategies to corporate giants with less-than-stellar environmental resumes. Hesitant to even broach the topic of sustainability at the risk of scaring off her potential clients, and anguished at her own cowardice, she began, there on the plane, to write a "Kyoto Treaty" of design, a call to action for the design industry to turn away from environmentally irresponsible, profit-driven practices and commit itself to sustainability.That impromptu manifesto has now been formalized as the Designers Accord, and a broad coalition of 100,000 designers, engineers, and corporate leaders have committed to the ideal of environmentally and socially responsible design. The accord gives actionable shape to the role and responsibility of designers. "The Designers Accord recognizes that the shared mind is more powerful than the individual alone," says Casey, "but that individual action is key to its success." Adopters must publicly declare their participation in the accord, initiate a dialogue about environmental responsibility with every client, put programs in place to reduce their carbon footprint annually, and teach employees about the importance of sustainable values in design.
|The shared mind is more powerful than the individual alone.|
The Designers Accord, in addition to specific guidelines for firms and companies, has a five-point code of conduct: "Do no harm; communicate and collaborate; Keep learning, keep teaching; Instigate meaningful change; Make theory action."It's not often we gauge the success of a great idea by its future obsolescence, but despite the accord's growing influence, Casey is hoping to soon see it disappear: "It's a privilege to be shepherding this cause, but it's not about what I say anymore, it's about a dialogue. I hope that in next few years, these principles will be so integrated into the way people think about and practice design that it won't be necessary to have the Designers Accord."And with each new victory, Casey sees the design industry slowly becoming a more relevant, change-making force in the world. "As a designer, I feel a responsibility to make positive social impact," she says. "Designers are a community of activists, not aestheticians."LEARN MORE designersaccord.orgADOPTERS GOOD and our design firm, Open, are both adopters of the accord.