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In the design world, 2008 ended with something monumental: more than 100,000 firms and individuals, in 100 countries, committing to the Designers Accord, a voluntary pledge to produce more environmentally and socially responsible work, make all resources public, and share the results with the world. This..

In the design world, 2008 ended with something monumental: more than 100,000 firms and individuals, in 100 countries, committing to the Designers Accord, a voluntary pledge to produce more environmentally and socially responsible work, make all resources public, and share the results with the world.This year, good design seemed to be everywhere. In New Orleans, Brad Pitt helped to bring global attention to housing issues with his Make It Right foundation. Cameron Sinclair, the founder of Architecture for Humanity, was featured as one of the subjects of the Sundance Channel's Iconoclasts series, opposite that other famous Cameron, Diaz. And Philippe Starck claimed that everything he has designed was "unnecessary," so he was looking for a new profession.In the book world, Paul Polak published Out of Poverty, arguing that the world's greatest designers and innovators should think of the world's poorest people as their clients. And Design for the other 90%, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum's exhibition of low-cost products and technologies began its worldwide tour.Designers also looked to simpler solutions for complex problems: Plants and animals were catalogued by the Biomimicry Institute as Nature's 100 Best Technologies. Over at MIT, Amy Smith launched her D-Lab into a product-development think tank for simple solutions to global problems. And a retrospective of Buckminster Fuller's work proved he had all the answers 50 years ago. A grant in his name was awarded to John Todd for his ecological design to repair industrial destruction in the Appalachian region.


But perhaps the biggest triumph for design this year was the one that received the least attention. On a turnout-shattering Election Day, millions of Americans cast their votes on redesigned ballots, thanks to ongoing efforts by AIGA, the professional association for design, whose Design for Democracy project helped make voting clearer, easier, and more accurate.

NOW WHAT The Designers Accord recently launched an online community to further their mission. Check out community.designersaccord.org for more information.

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