What is the highest and best purpose of design?

Micène Fontaine, August 12, 2021

Did you get a chance to think about it? In my last blog post, I left you with this question: What is the highest and best purpose of design? This is a question I was asked a few months ago. Many of us were asked to answer it. I'll share my answer in a moment, but more importantly, below is what stood out for me in Ian Rolston's answer:

"We are the gatekeepers of good, articulated in the environments we create. In the elements we place that tell stories to honour the past, acknowledge our present and celebrate the potential of tomorrow. We designers orchestrate interactions that enhance moments of connection and establish shared values that make life – that make living better. [...] We are problem solvers, storytellers and agents of change that can design the world as it should be." - Ian Rolston, NCIDQ, IDC, LEED GA, ARIDO, Lead Decanthropist, Decanthropy, Toronto

"We are the gatekeepers of good, articulated in the environments we create.

Now, as promised, here is the answer I submitted to the question "What is the highest and best purpose of design?"

"The built environment has always reflected who we are, what we value, and - most importantly - who we aspire to be individually and as one - as a society. That, to me, is design's purest raison d’être. It's about nudging us towards behaving in alignment with our highest values and the version of the future we want for generations to come. We do have a choice. Design reflects that choice. It makes it tangible and holds us to higher standards. 

I see professional interior designers and architects as change ambassadors. We know change is hard, but it always starts with someone willing to think out loud to inspire the rest of us to do things better and do better things. Design professionals like you around the world are that someone. We need your help leveraging the power of design to help tackle societal issues. It's no secret that humanity must find ways to quickly address local and global challenges whose scope, complexity, and urgency are overwhelming. As architects, interior designers, landscape architects, and allied design professionals, you may not have all the answers. But you are beacons of hope, willing to ask better, more challenging questions so we can solve for the right problems. 

The mandate is clear: Design a built environment that fosters peace, diversity, inclusion, and prosperity for all while enabling us to live in symbiosis with our environment. Design is fearlessly asking: What if we could? Design is change. I can't think of a loftier purpose. Can you?"

We are the "problem solvers, storytellers and agents of change that can design the world as it should be." Here is to reimagining tomorrow entirely by design.

:Change by Design

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