Role of Design in Society

The way we understand design and the role of a designer in contemporary society is an outcome of the industrial revolution which led to the mechanization of the workforce through the use of machinery. The design as a specialized field of activity has evolved over a period of time. However,  apart from its industrial role we now discuss design within the ambit of cultural, social, and economic phenomena where the designer plays a significant role.

Therefore, the design could be understood as a form of human intervention to make our surroundings more hospitable–the denominators of which are arbitrary and change from context to context. To look at the world from the point of view of a graphic designer, we can develop a visual metaphor for our world within which a graphic designer operates. Since it’s a visual metaphor one sees the world made up of dots, lines, shapes, spaces, and so on. As humans, we occupy space – physical, mental, and virtual. All our interactions take place within these spaces, be it institutional, natural, cultural, sacred,  public, or private.

Designers experience space not as a mere canvas, but as a dynamic entity waiting to be creatively filled. As a heterogeneous entity already layered with concepts, ideas and formulations that is central to the idea of ‘creativity’— urban/rural, ritualistic/secular, utopian/heterotrophic, public, or the private. So space is always creative and so to say “designed”. 

And we as occupants of that space are always subjected to those designs. We as individual or groups or as members of the society are the occupants of this space as well as users of these designs. Design is everywhere. It is around us in various forms such as zebra crossings, barricades, road signs, rituals, and so on. Design, in contemporary society, is all-pervasive, an omnipresent phenomenon. We easily associate design with popular media of correspondence like advertisements, various forms of entertainment, TV serials, pamphlets, posters, signage, and hoardings. 

But have we ever tried to find out why modern cities are designed say in the form of a grid or the kind of drills we go through in a physical education period or say the paraphernalia of security barriers, surveillance cameras, or the array of bumpers in front of ministerial places and government offices? 

Can we see graphic or visual patterns in all of them? 
All of these present us with certain sets of information through various signs and symbols. These designs not only serve the purpose passively and mechanically but there are many layers of hidden meanings associated with them. 

Since a graphic designer is a creator of such designs, one is expected to understand what is hidden underneath the surface, understand the functions of design and their impact and implications at the surface level as well as at various levels of human existence.

Did you know?

Are you familiar with the image on the left page?
  • This is a seal from the Indus valley civilization which has the images of both a full, as well as calligraphic text It(not deciphered so far by historians).

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