"To fulfill design’s promise, the most important shift we need to make is letting go of the entrenched mental model of design as the point of itself; as the end product rather than as a means to something greater. Makers are justifiably proud of what they make, and can come to view the artifact as the answer. There is a tendency to view the site, the poster, the logo or the product as the purpose of design when it is not. We will only make design a force in creating the future if we see it not as an end in itself, but as a tool, a medium, a lever in a process of ongoing transformation—and if we take full responsibility for the transformation we engender. “What will we accomplish with this?” is the question we must never forget ask, and to honestly answer. That will be the work of the designer of the future." (Cheryl Heller- Where Design Is Going and How to Be There, AIGA, 1/3/13)
Heller's brilliant conclusion to her AIGA article resonated deeply with me- I am constantly struggling with the current trend of design as a mental exercise, an academic endeavor, an "under theorized" field. There is a reason we are designers and not anthropologists, or philosophers or pure artists. Simply put, we make things. Things that help people. Things that have positive impacts. We don't just sit and talk, we get up and do.
It is far too easy to fall under the siren's call of design as a discussion or a paper, or yet another TED talk. It feels good, and you get a lot of cool people to nod their heads and clap you on the back afterwards. But is that point? Where is the line between self-adulation and the requisite calls to action and responsibility that we as a community must hear every so often?
I encourage you to read the whole article. You can find it here: http://www.aiga.org/where-design-is-going-and-how-to-be-there/