Design Activism

Contemporary Design Issues [ Assessment 1 : Activity 2 ]



In exploring this theme, I sourced a case study from Inkahoots’s curated microsite Typolitic  (Inkahoots, n.d.), which is dedicated to inspiring design activism amongst students.  One project stood out for me, Torunn Ovland’s child safety and privacy campaign – Digital Birth (2014).

Ovland used emotive data on the dangers related to parents sharing private information and images of their children online.  She designed pedestrian safety signs which were displayed at public playgrounds, and also cordoned off the equipment with safety tape.  Here are examples of her work:

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Ovland, T. (2014). Digital Birth [Photographs]. Retrieved from http://typolitic.com/digital-birth/

The designer also monitored reactions of parents and helped to direct them to her website with more information on the risks related to sharing private information and images of children online.

To help understand how Ovland’s work might be classified as design activism, I referred to Defining design as activism (Thorpe, A., 2011).  Looking specifically at the criteria outlined in the section Defining design in activism (protest/resistance) terms (2011, p.6).  Below is how the project aligned with the criteria:

  1. Reveal or reframe an issue or problem:  Parents and the general public were made aware of the risks associated with sharing their children’s images and information.
  2. Request for change:  Parents were asked to change their online behaviour to better protect their children to any unnecessary exposure.
  3. Advocate on behalf of an excluded group:  Children are unable to advocate for their own safety and privacy.
  4. Disruption of every day life:  The signage and safety tape directly disrupted use of the public playground.


References

Inkahoots (n.d.). Typolitic. Retrieved from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/typolitic

Ovland, T. (2014). Digital Birth. Retrieved from http://typolitic.com/digital-birth/

Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining design as activism. Retrieved from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf

Images

Ovland, T. (2014). Digital Birth (Photographs). Retrieved from http://typolitic.com/digital-birth/

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