If we could turn all the interviews with designers around the world over the past two years into a word cloud, the biggest word would most likely be responsibility. They all feel a huge responsibility, the designers of these times: towards the public, towards the companies that have chosen them, towards the environment. "Designer who wants to save the world, industry immediately becomes an enemy. And, more calmly, the world too ", says the Assioma of the Red Cross, one of the most caustic haiku designs in Odo Fioravanti's successful series. But behind what may seem like a way of giving oneself a tone, there is perhaps the will, more or less explicit, to convey the new meaning of a profession that has ended up, in effect, making the designer much more than those who apply. an idea to a company, develops it and accompanies it on the market with its name next to (or below) that of a brand.
Years ago we saw the designer become the figure who incorporates the skills of the increasingly emptied company technical offices. Then, we saw him turn into a storyteller, more or less convinced or reluctant. Today, in some cases, as a storymaker. “Making stories” has increasingly become a thread of coherence and identity, not just of quality. It is in this sense that responsibility meets curation, another recurring word, chosen two years ago by Fabio Calvi and Paolo Brambilla for their role in Flos, where they preferred the wording design curator to art director, a choice then also made by Giulio Iacchetti and Matteo Ragni in Abet Laminati: “Our partners must always be attentive to the evolution of the world around us and constantly updated on both technical and ethical issues. They are realities where the attitude to 'work well' at 360 ° is taken for granted and therefore not necessarily communicated, as happens too often in recent times for example when talking about sustainability, a very complex and abused issue without a real reason. In this regard, however, in our role as design curator for Flos, we gave up on very interesting and innovative projects which, however, were not 'sustainable' in their essence. It is no longer conceivable today to produce an object that cannot be completely dismantled into its individual components, thus becoming completely recyclable. It is an exciting challenge that we gladly face, knowing full well how often the best projects grow amidst very difficult rules ”.
For Alessandro Stabile and Martinelli Venezia, responsibility means overturning the script of relations with companies: having failed to find the one with which to realize the dream of a "good", durable, aesthetically appreciable plastic chair intended for large-scale distribution, they decided to go it alone, choosing the subcontractor factory with which to develop the brief. A project that, having found the authors, is now looking for a publisher.
Is producing meaning another way of saying that the designer is an ethical professional? Yes, according to Fernando Laposse, who at 33 is published in the most glamorous magazines with his collections of objects, wallpapers and coverings created by handcrafting corn leaves. An approach that gives hope to the communities of campesinhos brought to their knees by international trade agreements that have emptied local crops of value, the same ones that Laposse tries to put back into circulation with its refined design: "I live the responsibility of being a designer by focusing on improving the environment and the lives of the people I work with. I like to face and devise systemic solutions that empower people in unfavorable situations. One of the key points of my projects is to have maximum transparency and to tell complex stories in a way that is accessible to the general public. I work hand in hand with indigenous communities who would otherwise be excluded from our globalized world, the same one that has hit them hard.
Here, the main threat to the environment is not plastic waste, fossil fuels or excessive consumption, but social inequality. To solve this problem, we need radically different creative solutions that responsibly generate alternative sources of income. In reality the problem is simple: if you are starving and the only way to get money to access basic human rights is to cut down the trees on your land, you will - anyone would. I believe part of the solution lies in responsible young people who think globally, acting locally in a disruptive way from below. The radical change will not come from the big companies, they say that big ships are difficult to reverse ”.