A couple weeks ago we posted an article on National Grilled Cheese Day. Hopefully those that read it got a great recipe for a killer grilled cheese. We also included some other crazy holidays but as we researched celebrations in April, I saw that today is World Communication Design Day.
As the communications director here at Signs.com and a bit of a designer myself, I couldn’t help being a bit giddy at the fact that a complete day was reserved to celebrating my profession of choice. My joy must have been clear to the rest of the Signs.com team, as I was immediately volunteered to write an article about the occasion. So, with a bounce in my step, I set off to explore this seemingly wonderful celebration.
World Communication Design Day (previously called World Graphics Day), was started by Icograda. Founded in 1963, Icograda is the world organizing body for communication design. The day coincides with the birthday of Icograda and seeks to “recognize communication design and its role in the world. (1)” I had never heard of Icograda but I figured that they were pretty much like all other trade organizations. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
The Icograda website says, “On this occasion, designers reflect and hope that our global network can contribute to a greater understanding between people and can help to build bridges where divides and inequities exist. (2)” To me, this reads more like the mission statement for a non-profit looking to cure some disease in some far off country than a description of a “made up” association holiday. I must say, I was both perplexed and intrigued.
The theme for this year’s event is convergence, which simply means the coming together of multiple things. According to Icograda, convergence is defined in four ways:
- The technological-digital revolution through computers, the internet, mobile phones making graphics, video, photography, sound, telecommunications and publishing come together and become accessible to all.
- Cross-disciplinary collaboration: bringing together designers from different fields, but most interestingly witnessing designers working with specialists in other fields (anthropology, biology, psychology, undergraduate education, social work, economics, etc.)
- The new macro discipline of ‘expanded media’ consolidating communication design – branding, advertising, wayfinding, editorial design, web design – with emerging sectors – game design, programming, user-experience, interaction design, social media, sound design, computational art, data visualisation.
- Open source creative capital from around the world coming together to create extraordinary collective achievements like Wikipedia, Linux, WorldChanging (open architecture), Kickstarter, and numerous examples of online participatory art. (3)
The idea is that design isn’t what it used to be. Not long ago, designers were compartmentalized into disciplines that rarely interacted. Product designers created products, marketing designers thought up unique ways to sell the products, and user experience designers just laughed because they thought the product was unusable to begin with.
Times have changed and with them so has the scope and definition of what design is. Maybe more importantly, the recognized impact on our society by design has changed as well. The entire premise of Icograda and World Communication Design Day is not to recognize great design, but to change the collective thinking about how design can be used to frame and solve problems in a local context.
Convergence in Action
The most recent example of this shift in thinking is Kony2012. No matter your opinion on the campaign, you cannot ignore the incredible effect that the collective design has had on a mass scale. Everything about the design, from the videos to the website, to the branding, posters and bracelets, has an immediate effect on changing the way that communities worldwide think about an issue. This is convergence at its finest. A societal issue was identified, a design was crafted and executed and millions of people responded.
Knowing the true meaning behind World Communication Design Day is refreshing to me. In a world where we are quick to criticize and tear down our fellow man, at least one industry is trying to fly in the face of conventional tides. So this year, I am going to celebrate World Communication Design Day, not because it’s a day for my profession, but because it is a day to change my world.
You can check out Icograda and World Communication Design Day 2012 here.