Design Can seeks to help diversify the design industry

A new initiative, called Design Can, has been launched to encourage greater diversity within the design industry.

According to statistics issued by the Design Council last year, the industry is currently 78% male and 87% white, figures which are significantly out of step with society at large.

So a group of designers, editors and activists have launched a new campaign calling for a more inclusive design industry, outlining how the industry should change and providing resources and strategies for individuals to support making that change happen.

Designer 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.”

The Design Can website, was launched in August, showcasing 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. It is hoped the platform will act as a valuable resource for people organising talks, events and exhibitions.

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.

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.”

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.



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