Design and positive impact: The importance of innovation with a purpose

”What should be a designer’s focus? Is there a priority for the creative work? To which direction should the design be developed?” These are some questions which rarely have a single answer. However, if we consider the main events of creativity and business development that happened this year, we can find a way that crosses

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”What should be a designer’s focus? Is there a priority for the creative work? To which direction should the design be developed?” These are some questions which rarely have a single answer. However, if we consider the main events of creativity and business development that happened this year, we can find a way that crosses the idea of positive impact.

We affirm this because in the relevant innovation festivals, like the SXSW, the C2 Montreal, and the Cannes Lions, the commitment with the human issues was one of the biggest highlights.

In almost every category of the SXSW, for example, the winner projects where those which met the real needs of people – from a device that monitors the quality of the water to one service which, through eyeglasses, connects the blind with professionals who are able to describe the experiences they’re living, like visiting a museum or reading an information board (see image below). Even though there were a variety of recognized projects at the event, it’s a fact that the innovation with impact led the edition of this year.

Innovating with positive impact

For a lot of people, a good design has always been one which has a good purpose. Nowadays, the difference is that this idea has began to be prioritized by many professionals in this field. And when the main events of creativity bring this subject to the center of the discussion and starts to consider the positive impact of a project while defining the winners, the following message is sent: humans should be the focus of the businesses which want to call the customers’ attention. 

In this sense, if we are talking about projects which act on complex issues and improve certain aspect in people’s lives, the design may contribute significantly – after all we are talking about a field with vocation to innovate and to solve problems.

Positive impact that is worth a Cannes

At the Cannes Lions 2019, 20 out of the 28 main categories honored with a Grand Prix (maximum Award) were projects with contributions towards gender equality, social inclusion, sustainability, diversity, and accessibility among others. 

This outcome is not a coincidence: in this edition, the festival had created a guideline to support the judges in combating stereotypes of race, gender, ethnicity and age. The objective was to encourage evaluations focused on the representativeness and promotion of equality. 

That is why the results followed this line. At the Grand Prix of Design, for example, the Award was given to the project Creatability from Google Creative Lab. The experimental platform has the objective to make creativity more accessible for people with disabilities by offering tools and interfaces for innovative creations. It’s possible, for example, to produce a song through the movement of the head or another part of the body. Check out the video:

Design with purpose

For a project to have positive impact on the world and on people’s lives, it’s not necessary to mobilize high technology and huge investments. There are a lot of work which use design to solve problems through simple innovations.

Here in Brazil, the Furf Design Studio created an adaptable and colored cover for leg prosthesis which had a high impact on the self-esteem of the amputees. Generally, these kind of products are expensive and aesthetically unattractive as they try to simulate the skin color. The Confete (name of the cover created by Furf) is produced with a more affordable material – 80% cheaper – which is colored and customizable, encouraging people to show off the prosthesis instead of hiding it. 

Another interesting work which shows how it’s possible to generate positive impact through ‘simple’ innovation is the Fit Pack, by Corona. Betting on a system of threads, the brand has developed beer cans that fit together, dismissing the use of plastic and rings to be transported. The project is part of the company’s commitment of becoming an industry leader in the use of packaging that doesn’t impact the environment.

There are no doubts that topics like sustainability, diversity and accessibility can’t be left out of the corporate strategies. The new economy requires that the brands put some effort in innovating, mainly with purpose. Generating positive impact is more than a trend, it’s a necessity – and the design has a great contribution in this scenario.