Design is a crucial part of modern living. From college prospectuses to adverts on the sides of buses, to social media and beyond, design is everywhere.
But what makes a sustainable and appropriate design? In March, we welcomed graphic designer Sophie Thomas from her own Thomas.Matthews agency to lead a masterclass for the Manchester Metropolitan University-run National Saturday Club and talk to us about how graphic design can influence political and social change.
Sophie got us thinking about what makes design ‘good’. “At Thomas.Matthews, we believe in good design, and, by that I mean design that is appropriate, sustainable and beautiful,” Sophie said.
Sophie asked us to think about today’s political climate and the issues that we face each and every day. Through a series of workshops, we generated a large list of challenges that people encounter on a day-to-day basis. A few of these issues were cuts to education services and the NHS, mental health stigma, homophobia, body image and representation, and environmental pollution.
She asked us to collaborate and use design to create solutions to these problems, saying: “You may feel that you don’t have much influence in political issues, but actually, as a designer, you have a lot of impact on these things whether you feel it or not.
“I have worked with a wide range of people from poets to landscape architects in my own work. Collaboration is a huge part of art and design.”
We then worked in groups to produce potential solutions to the challenges that upset us the most. In a single afternoon, Saturday Club was able to develop several solutions to social issues as wide as homelessness, low-quality council housing, and feeling the need to fit in. With the support of Sophie, we were able to produce a network of practical solutions to each other’s worries.
“As designers, you have a huge role in creating change and supporting a sustainable world,” Sophie said.
Want to know more about Saturday Club?
The National Art and Design Saturday Club at Manchester School of Art is a free project for young people in Years 9 to 11 at school.
Kate Dunstone, Outreach Assistant, said: “Saturday Club is focused on developing skills in all areas of art and design.
“Over the past year we have taken part in filmmaking, 3D, graphic design, animation, photography and textiles projects.
“As well as developing skills in art and design, members have also built their confidence, made new friends and started to consider paths into higher education.”
To find out more about Saturday Club visit http://www.art.mmu.ac.uk/outreach/youngpeople/