Studio & Entrepreneurship – Week 9: Core Characteristics, Ethics and Theory

Week 9 Lecture & Resources

Thoughts on Resources & Lecture

Design Ethics

In this week’s lecture, Robin Howie of Fieldwork Facility talked about the having a sense of responsibility as a designer:

“We do have an ethos in the studio that design is a role of citizenship. Basically what that means is before I’m a designer, I’m a person and I’m a citizen of London, of the UK, of Europe, of the world, but for me the idea of citizenship is way more interesting than a citizen.

“Citizenship, to me, really is more of an active role. You have to be proactive you have to do something. Design as a role of citizenship basically means to me that you don’t have to try and save the world with every single project, but what you should do is you should be leaving the world in a slightly better place. To have a simple code of ethics, we try to act as a role of citizenship in all of our projects.”

I definitely agree with the idea that we do have a duty to – where possible – enhance our communities and environments through a considered use of design. In my own practice, I have become increasingly conscious of the impact my creative output can have on the on the world I live in. As such, I try to do what I can to find ways to minimise waste and to choose options that won’t harm the environment. In addition to this, in the future I would like to continue working with organisations that help to make a difference, be it to their geographical area, the environment in general, or to people’s mental health.

According to the Fieldwork Facility, “design can create conversations and have an effect in the social fabric that we live in. The studio’s work aims to create dialogues between people, objects, ideas, materials and places, these dialogues aim to enrich the lives of those who experience them.”

Design that provokes conversations can be incredibly powerful. Sometimes it can be as simple as highlighting an issue that has been overlooked and deserves further scrutiny, or encouraging people to engage with something.

Plants not Pollution is an urban environment project Fieldwork Facility undertook in Hammersmith, London, to improve the space and air quality under the Hammersmith Flyover. Taking inspiration from the likes of William Morris (who once lived in the area), they created supergraphics/painted murals and enhanced the area by adding greenery to absorb, or counteract some of the pollution. Judging by the photography, it really makes a big difference visually to the previously drab grey concrete. It also strikes me that the studio’s ethos is actually quite closely in tune with the values upheld by the Arts & Crafts movement, of which Morris was a key figure.


Values-led Business

“Certified B Corps are for-profit businesses that meet the highest social, environmental and transparency standards as well as having legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” – ustwo

I had come across the concept of a B-corp before, but I was interested to hear more about it via ustwo, as well as their reasons for going down the road of getting the certification. It aligns with their mission to “launch products, services and companies that have a meaningful impact on the world,” according to their manifesto.

There definitely seems to be a trend of late for a rise in businesses that are not just about profit, but also consciously make an effort to run their business in a sustainable, eco-conscious and socially responsible way. In the last year or so I have also noticed a considerable number of companies starting to be much more vocal/transparent about how they are addressing issues such as inclusivity and tackling problems like racism and the gender gap.


Workshop Challenge

Design and visually communicate an information graphic, or diagram, or animation that, for you, highlights the effective definition and process of a being a design entrepreneur today. 

For this week’s challenge, it took me a while to come up with a visual idea that could demonstrate what I had in my head. I eventually came up with 6 key aspects or processes that form the basis of being a design entrepreneur, which I have visualised as being like the segments of “pie” that you get in the board game Trivial Pursuit, in infographic form.

Click the image above to view the infographic at full size.

Initially I created this “Trivial Pursuit” style illustration (shown on the right) with icons to represent each aspect of design entrepreneurship, then I built out an infographic to explain it.

Initial concept sketch.

Reflection on the week

At its core, being an entrepreneur requires energy and a certain amount of ambition. Being unafraid to take risks (as well as learning from mistakes or unsuccessful endeavours) and try new ideas or ways of working is important too. I think being passionate about what you’re doing almost goes without saying – this is really key, especially when you come up against challenges, as you are very likely to in business.

The world is rapidly changing place and I see more and more businesses stepping up to take responsibility for their actions – ensuring their endeavours don’t have a detrimental impact on the environment and finding ethical, sustainable ways to operate, something which I feel can only be a good thing.

Other factors which can be seen as an asset to any entrepreneur are good communication skills, flexibility, an ability to foster relationships and a willingness to learn new things. Knowing when to outsource is vital too – be it in terms of gaining insight/knowledge, or skills generally.

Another key skill is being able to see a project through from conception to realisation, but also having a sense of which projects are worth pursuing to the end – and which to move on from if they’re not working. If you want to work with other people, finding partners who share similar values to collaborate with always makes sense too.


References

ALTER, Jessica. 2013. ‘Designers make great entrepreneurs, they just don’t know it yet.’ Wired. Available at https://www.wired.co.uk/article/designers-startups [accessed 03/08/2021]

B Lab. 2021. ‘B Corporation.’ Available at https://bcorporation.uk/ [accessed 10/08/2021]

Fieldwork Facility. ‘Plants Not Pollution.’ Available at https://fieldworkfacility.com/projects/plantsnotpollution [accessed 30/07/2021]

ustwo. 2021. ‘ustwo is a B Corp!’ Available at https://www.ustwo.com/b-corp/ [accessed 31/07/2021]

WILLIAMS, Megan. 2020. ‘B Corp: Good for Business?’ Creative Review. Available at https://www.creativereview.co.uk/b-corp-good-for-business/ [accessed 31/07/2021]