A group of designers, editors and activists have launched a new campaign calling for a more inclusive design industry. Named Design Can, the initiative both outlines how the industry needs to change and equips individuals with the resources and strategies to make that change happen. According to statistics issued by the Design Council last year, the industry is currently 78% male and 87% white, dramatically out of step with society at large.
The Design Can website, which launched yesterday (12 August), champions emerging and established talent from a diverse range of backgrounds, genders and abilities, and highlights articles, videos, podcasts and events that explore the topic of inclusion. It is community generated, with users suggesting people and content to appear on the site. The hope is that the Design Can platform will show a broad picture of the creative industries, as well as acting as a valuable resource for people organising talks, events and exhibitions.
The identity for Design Can was created by recent Central Saint Martins graduates Not Flat 3. Featuring a ‘can’ motif, the visuals pun on the campaign’s name while hinting at the “hidden potential waiting to burst into the forefront of the industry.” The choice of typefaces echo a global approach, including Recoleta from Mexican foundry Latinotype, and Yoshida Sans inspired by the Tokyo subway system.
The idea behind the campaign was first conceived in 2018, growing out a frustration with homogenous speaker line-ups. The steering committee includes designer Yinka Ilori; Icon editor Priya Khanchandani; Ella Ritchie, co-founder of Intoart (a Peckham-based studio for artists with disabilities); Ansel Neckles and Steph McLaren-Neckles, who founded of creative studio Let’s Be Brief; and Richmond University associate professor of creative and digital culture, Dr Jane Norris. It has been developed by London-based creative communications company Zetteler.
Yinka Ilori says, “Design is a powerful tool and I believe it can change the world but we need to switch it up massively and bring in some new tastemakers from diverse backgrounds.”
Intoart’s Ella Ritchie adds, “People with learning disabilities are rarely thought of as cultural producers in the design industry, which is a missed opportunity for everyone. Design Can reflects our values as a design studio and collective of people with learning disabilities; we champion an equal platform for emerging designers.”