“Questions are more transforming than answers.” — Peter Block
Any common conversation can be divided into three parts: speaking, listening and asking questions. The power of graphic design is generally employed to project information into our culture, fitting almost solely into the “speaking” aspect of communication. Is there a place for using our design skills for asking questions? In this two part post, I will take a look at design that invites comment by creating space for feedback and subsequently design that brings people together through inclusive design processes.
Lets start by taking a look at a brilliant example. Designers A2/SW/HK were commissioned by Tate Britain to create a space for comment at the end of the exhibition. They created a simple space. The walls were lined with cards that read “comment”, each card pinned to the wall with a pencil through the “o”. With comments from the Minister of Culture hitting headlines, the project was a fascinating success which genuinely had the power to stimulate the public into dialogue – which is no mean feat in a modern art gallery.
What so interests me about this project is that it benefits all. Those leaving feedback feel a sense of participation and ownership (sorely missing in the emptiness of a modern art gallery) and Tate Britain receive what is hopefully a picture of their audiences’ opinion. What they would make of their honesty is another matter. In effect, it goes some small way toward empowering consumers and creating more social experiences.
In his popular book Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky the founder of Behance dedicates a third of his book to the power of community, stressing how “…community opens the door to new approaches for old challenges and spurs a more informed and powerful creative instinct.” I believe this is true for our clients too and probably something we all acknowledge through our embrace of social-media integration. Notable in all this is that when content is lacking, or open to interpretation, it would be wise to see what your audience has to say. You never know it might be far more interesting than what you could come up with. There’s no doubt though, it takes risk to reach out.
In our next post we look at a project by Bread Collective and delve into the work of graphic designers who make the most of inclusive design processes.