The Social Movements and Design Essay

The Social Movements and Design Essay

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Design can be both the outcome and instigator of social change. Despite Designer George Nelson’s accuracy in claiming that ‘design is a response to social change’, he neglects to mention that it can also trigger it. In contemporary society, all aspects of our environments have been designed for a particular purpose in order to cater to certain social needs or changes. It can be theorized that there is an endless cycle between the influence of social change on design, as well as the influence of design on social change. This is evident through analysis of designs, the social change that influenced them and the social change that resulted from them. This theory can be evidenced through the analysis of skyscrapers and prisons as well as the design of the wheel and smartphones, their social influences such as the Industrial Revolution and the Modernist Movement, and their impacts.

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that design incorporates more than the fashion and architectural aspects that many people believe it to be. Design can be viewed as a part of everything we use and see. Whether it’s the park you visit, the building you live in and all the products and furniture, hospitals, the machinery inside them, and basically everything we use has been particularly designed; not only aesthetically, but also to function the way they do. As such, these designs are potent responses to social change but, as products and designs we use on a day-to-day basis, it is obvious that these designs will concurrently influence social change as well.

Skyscrapers are a prime example of ways in which design can be both a response to and instigator of social change. Skyscrapers began in urban areas in the 1880s as a result to the increase of...


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...fluential designs of time. The social response to the design of the iPhone is potent and undeniable. This instance alone provides enough evidence to suggest that, whilst design responds to social change, social change also responds to designs.

Ultimately, considering the nature of globally renowned designs in this day and age; skyscrapers, the wheel, prisons and smartphones, it can be determined that design responds to social change simultaneously to social change responding to design. It can be drawn that both social change and design are dependable on one another and hence form a continuous cycle. The social changes in terms of materials, demands, desires and beliefs on a global scale, have all prompted designs equally as much as skyscrapers, wheels, prisons and smartphones have instigated social change. The analysis and evidence mentioned has made this evident.

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