Designing for Justice

BY CHRISTIAN SARKAR

How do you design systems so that the outcomes of these systems are just?

The Design Justice Network gives us a few pointers. Let’s begin by understanding what is meant by the term “design justice.”

Design justice rethinks design processes, centers people who are normally marginalized by design, and uses collaborative, creative practices to address the deepest challenges our communities face.

The 10 Principles of Design Justice

  1. We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.
  2. We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.
  3. We prioritize design’s impact on the community (and planet) over the intentions of the designer.
  4. We view change as emergent from an accountable, accessible, and collaborative process, rather than as a point at the end of a process.*
  5. We see the role of the designer as a facilitator rather than an expert.
  6. We believe that everyone is an expert based on their own lived experience, and that we all have unique and brilliant contributions to bring to a design process.
  7. We share design knowledge and tools with our communities.
  8. We work towards sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes.
  9. We work towards non-exploitative solutions that reconnect us to the earth and to each other.
  10. Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional, indigenous, and local knowledge and practices.

These principles are a great starting point for any project and should be given far more visibility, not just in the world of design, but also the wider systems of our society – economic, social, political, environmental, etc.

We’re going to use these Principles of Design Justice, along with the Declaration of interdependence as the foundation of The Wicked7 Project.