The Editors | Twenty Years of Design Observer


Shelter, Calais, France, February 2006 by Henk Wildschut. From Look or Connect?

In 2004, architecture critic Mark Lamster wrote about the urban trauma he witnessed in Georgia’s Capital. (Not Atlanta: Lamster was writing about Tblisi.) His focus was on the efforts of groups hoping to conserve the architecture of that ancient, and later abandoned city. Nearly twenty years later, we’ve come to understand advocacy as a critical design tool in the context of social justice. Social justice is to design and social innovation what ergonomics is to industrial design, semiotics is to graphic design, and ethnography is to design research, wrote Scott Boylston in 2020. An assurance that net positive results are more likely an outcome than making matters worse. At its core, advocacy is an art of creative benevolence: to advocate for someone (or something) is at once an act of generosity and a form of compassion, a mark of conscience and an expression of citizenship. If you see something, say something. Or build something. You can get angry, or you can get busy. (Or both.) With any luck, you’ll find a way to open the door—just a little bit wider—for someone who isn’t you.

This look back into our archive is part of our Twentieth Anniversary celebration.

Posted in: Inclusion

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