The most topical conversation in design is about ethics

After going on different types of design events, it seems quite obvious that there is one topic that seems relevant in all aspects of design: ethics.

In technology+empathy Design Talk, Nelli Lähteenmäki spoke how designers should consider the impact their service has, already before designing it. She mentioned Tristan Harris who has founded a non-profit initiative Timewellspent with a mission to reversing the digital attention crisis and realigning technology with humanity’s best interests. Rolling Stone –magazine named Tristan as one of “25 People Shaping the World” in 2017. Btw, have a look how you can take control of your own (possible) addiction here. I changed my screen into a greyscale straight away! 😀

Capture from Timewellspent

Carla Camilla Hjort from Space10 raised conversation about designers responsibility to design empowerment rather than addiction. She stated that “the secret of change is to focus your energy not to fighting the old, but on building the new.” It seems that future living lab Space10 is in someway Ikea’s way of changing their own brand image into being more sustainable, innovative and ecological but I do not see it as a bad thing, when an initiative like Space10 raises important conversation and shows an example to every other giant company like Ikea.

In the last IxDa-meeting, a community invited everyone to join a bee with an aim on building a guide that integrates children’s rights into the design process. The registration for the event is now open on: The topic is hot, especially after Facebook launched its’ messenger app for kids.

Capture from

Studies have repeatedly found that social media sites can damage the emotional wellbeing of heavy users, especially younger people. In this interview, Facebook executive admits: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. You are being programmed”. Mark Zuckerberg responded by stating that “I’m dead serious about this. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profit.”

In the global service design conference in Madrid, one of the intriguing keynote was about closure experience, Ends. Joe Macleod’s keynote can be seen here. It touches the subject of design ethics also.

All in all, the subject of ethics in design is not going away, it is here for a reason. The power of design is evident, it can change the society, therefore it comes with a great responsibility. Joana Casaca Lemos talked about everyone being an expert of their own experience, and that designers should empower people to use design as a tool to make an impact in their own life. She talks about design as a method to make others to flourish. Same topic emerges in Ethical Design Manifesto by Indie Team. It argues that the only way to design for a diverse audience is to have diverse groups designing for themselves.

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Rob Girling, cofounder and co-CEO of Artefact, designers of USAFacts and StoryboardVR, sums it up in this article about the future of design:

“– the discipline of design will be forced to think about the outcomes of our work in a much more long-term context–literally what future do we want to create and more importantly try to avoid.”

This blog post was written by,
Emmi Kinnunen
SID student


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