Designing for the Greater Good
If you're a student, or a young designer building a client list and a career, you've probably given more than a little thought to how to position yourself and your work in terms of the increasing emphasis the world of design is placing on social responsibility. Perhaps you already take on pro bono work for worthy local social, environmental or political organizations and causes. While engaging at the local level is very important, also worth considering are the many cause-driven design contests that operate at a national or international level, notable among which is the annual Good 50×70 poster project.
Now in its third year, Good 50×70 is backed by such heavyweight design organizations as ICOGRADA and AGI, and has as its goal providing a way for designers to create posters that can be freely used by participating charities, such as Greenpeace, UNICEF and the World Wildlife Association. For the 2008 iteration designers submitted posters (sized 50x70cm) in response to seven briefs: Child Mortality, Global Warming, Human Rights, Hunting, STDS, War Victims and Water Scarcity.
The international jury, which included such names as Massimo Vignelli and Woody Pirtle, recently revealed its selection of 210 of the cream of the 2,710 entries. Those top 30 entries for each brief will be exhibited in Milan this June at La Triennale gallery, as well as being published in a catalog containing comments from the jurors, available for purchase at the exhibition and on the Good 50×70 site.
The winning entries can also be browsed on the site and are well worth checking out. While you might expect much of the work to rely on overly-dramatic imagery to get across the messages of these briefs, many of them respond to these explosive topics with thoughtful design solutions. For example, the message of the Human Rights brief, endorsed by Amnesty International asks: "Is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights worth the paper it’s written on?" I'm shocked to say I had never heard of this, despite it apparently holding the record for being the most-translated document in the world. The Declaration is a fascinating read, although also a discouraging one given how little progress, if any, we've made since this was ratified in 1948.
I found it rewarding to browse the range of responses to this and the other briefs. For example, compare the literal and negative interpretation in the upper poster by Natalia Delgado, of Mexico, with the stylized and positive approach below by Fabio Gioia, of Italy. Both very effective, but worlds apart.
Hats off to the organizers of the Good 50×70 initiative.