New Book Illuminates Design's Potential

September 18, 2008 · by DesignIntelligence

One of the most highly anticipated new books among professional practice firms poses a compelling challenge to designers of every kind. “No one with an interest in the field can afford not to read it,” says legendary designer Milton Glaser.

Warren Bennis calls it a “masterpiece,” and John Seely Brown describes it as “a provocative tour de force.”

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One of the most highly anticipated new books among professional practice firms poses a compelling challenge to designers of every kind. In The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything, bestselling author, psychologist, and design aficionado Richard Farson, Ph.D., urges designers to do more than merely satisfy paying clients.

He advocates a new level of design – “metadesign” – that can rectify fundamental public ills by addressing the needs of all people.

Farson asserts a deeply engaging premise in the book: Design can transform the world. It can put right what is wrong in our communities. It can address humanity’s most intractable dilemmas.

Properly mobilized, he argues, design could make a whopping impact on deep-rooted issues such as the ravages of poverty, the miserable state of the American education system, and the failure of criminal justice. It could do nothing short of move mountains.

As global crises mount, metadesigners may be among the world’s most valuable leaders, argues Farson. He encourages designers to engage more actively as leaders, to achieve a higher level of influence on the nature of design and on society. Designers should put themselves in high councils of corporations and government, making policy-level contributions, he urges.

But the road to metadesign is no cake walk. Farson describes the many ways that designers hold themselves back from serving society in meaningful ways. He exposes the evils of protectionism by professional societies, the ruinous results of commoditization, and the insidious nature of awards, for example.

In the end, Farson delivers a powerful message of hope. If we have the courage to embrace design’s unrealized potential, there appears to be no limit to the role it can play in the future of civilization.

“No one with an interest in the field can afford not to read it,” says legendary designer Milton Glaser of The Power of Design.

The Power of Design: A Force for Transforming Everything is published by Greenway Communications and the Östberg Library of Design Management.
 

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