In Design We Trust

“How do we make good on defending and strengthening the kind of democracy we all want to live in? How do we ensure that tech is a force for good?”

In a society where technology can do so many things, designers hold a great amount of responsibility. This year’s 2018 Personal Democracy Forum posed provoking questions about how designers have - and continue to - influence lifestyle and the way people interact with each other.


Building Trust

Jerry Michalski’s keynote about the role of trust in designing was invaluable. He challenged us to rethink our relationships to each other, institutions, states, and borders; and how we can rebuild the system of trust to keep people together.

From his keynote and workshop, he argued that to rebuild the trust we need to build systems that allow communities to live in the commons - not just in efficiency, scale, and profit. He also spoke on designing from trust. When we assume that people have good intent, there is cooperation instead of control; genius and thriving instead of efficiency and scale; interdependence instead of individualism; and community instead of coercion.

Designing for Good

There were also insightful keynotes regarding the role of designers today as there continues to be so much discrimination. Chris Hughes noted the separation of the rich and the poor; Robyn Swirling spoke about gender-based harassment; and Gina Glantz explained why it is important to bring elders into any work that we do. Design has the ability to bring creative solutions to the many problems that still exist.

As designers we need to know that although we are designing for people, we must learn to first design with them. By designing with people, we can better understand the problems that need solving and how to solve them. The important work for designers in the 21st century is engaging underrepresented groups, so that ultimately we can make good things together.


Noah Jung