How can design build a better world?
Over 1,000 creatives will discuss the most pressing issues of today during the annual festival What Design Can Do, held at the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam on 3 June this year.
- It's Nice That
- 9 May 2022
Design has many roles, but most crucial is its ability to build a better world. From the climate emergency to social justice, design has the power to address the most urgent issues of today. This is the focus of What Design Can Do, the 10th edition of a design festival taking place at the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam. On 3 June 2022, over 1,000 creatives will come together in a jam-packed programme filled with talks, exhibitions and workshops from a roster of creatives, activists, policy makers and start-ups.
The festival also arrives after a three-year pause due to the pandemic, so what better way of lauding its return than with an inspiring event highlighting the actions needed for a more sustainable, fair and equal future? Leading these conversations is an impeccable line-up including fashion designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal; architect Marwa Al-Sabouni; designer-activist-academic Julia Watson; Pussypedia founders Zoe Mendelson and Maria Conejo; photojournalist Kadir van Lohuizen; digital fashion designer Amber Jae Slooten; designer Bruce May; environmental policy advisor Yvo de Boer; film director Josh Fox; designer and Pentagram partner Eddie Opara; plus more to be announced soon.
It’s no secret that the world is currently at a tipping point, so what exactly can design – and festivals such as WDCD – do to tilt it back on its axis? “At WDCD Live 2022, we’re bringing change makers from radically diverse disciplines together, to unravel the knot from every direction,” says WDCD co-founder and creative director Richard van den Laken. “From designers and diplomats, to activists and architects – we’re going to have the skills and thinking power needed for lasting change, all in one room. There’s real power in that.” As a result, there are three main focus points to the event. The first is climate change. Undeniably one of the most pressing issues of today, the realisation of breaking away from ‘business as usual’ has been brought to the fore – especially over the pandemic. “Can design redefine its own relationship with consumerism, waste and value? And how can we make a circular future not just accessible – but enticing – for people from all walks of life?” These pointers, as described in the release, will be discussed in length throughout the festivities.
Additionally, topics of gender, design and power will be explored throughout the programme, as it dives into the ways in which the world can “rebuild the table from scratch”, the release adds. Topics such as the gender pay gap, biases and injustices will all be discussed, alongside how design can be used as a tool to advocate for the rights of women, non-binary, trans and queer communities. Social justice is the third pillar of the festival, with talks looking at how just one per cent of the planet’s population is responsible for twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50 per cent. “And yet they do not equally share the burden of its consequences,” as stated in the announcement. The programme will therefore thread the links between each of these topics and invite participants to transform their creative skills into activism.
One of the speakers who will be joining the WDCD roster is Marwa Al-Sabouni, an architect, author and international speaker from Syria. During her talk, she’ll discuss how the spaces we inhabit can reflect and transform our values. This means looking at the ways design can maintain peace in a city, and how, if a city space has been damaged, to rebuild a sense of safety, belonging and beauty. Not only has she written widely on these topics – with words published in her debut book The Battle for Home (2016) – she’s also an expert in Islamic architecture, resulting in a practice that’s rooted in the social, political and spiritual history of Syria. Highlighted in her work is the discourse that cities and buildings around the globe can be healed through design and urban mindfulness. “All the threads of human settlement meet at the crossroads of architecture,” she writes. “Political and economic forces are embodied in our buildings, and they can be both advanced and held back by architectural forms.”
Above all, Marwa believes that we should move away from “replication” in design and towards one that’s created for belonging. This way, the world’s cities will be reimagined for those that live in them, responding to “the local identity, to the local context of climate and materials and, most importantly, to local social patterns.” These impactful and necessary topics will be addressed on stage during WDCD, alongside many influential discussions from the programme. Head here to buy tickets and learn more about the event. Tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis, so be sure to grab yours while you still can.
Sponsored by What Design Can Do
What Design Can Do is a nonprofit organisation that seeks to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, fair and just society using the power of design. WDCD started in 2011 in Amsterdam and is initiated, curated and organised by creatives.
What Design Can Do: WDCD Amsterdam Live 2022 (Copyright © WDCD, 2022)