At MADE THOUGHT, we believe that creativity is the key to revolutionising human behaviour and reimagining the future. Great design can make people want the right things – which is really the key to driving real change in consumerism. While visionary designers are often celebrated for their contributions to visual culture, they’re rarely credited as drivers of fundamental social progress. But in Britain, the likes of Sir Terence Conran, Sir James Dyson or Sir Jonathan Ive are having the kind of societal, cultural and commercial impact most Prime Ministers can only dream of…
Big businesses can change the world but they’ll need good design to do it.
While in theory we look to governments to lead us, big businesses have a far greater power to either ruin, or fix our future. They’re bigger, but more agile. They’re richer. In the course of exponential progress, they’ve done a lot of damage. But let’s remember that the same ingenuity and ambition that built a climate crisis, can be harnessed to undo it. When industry giants refocus their ambitions on responsible business, and follow that up with real change, immense progress quickly becomes possible.
A new age is coming, with consumers starting to demand better behaviour from brands, and actions that follow through on intent. In this new, more responsible century, we want beautiful and intelligent brands to not only surround us but also to prioritise us and our environment.
Creativity is the engine of business; design is the interface between product and people. The world is counting on a new generation of designers and creatives who use their ability to create desire responsibly – who guide consumers towards a better way by simply making them want the better thing.
We genuinely believe humans have the power to fix the future through creativity, and there’s never been a better (or more important) time to be a designer. To create for a better future presents the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity of our age: to fundamentally rethink our relationship with materials, with quality, with value, with nature, with beauty and even with ourselves.
The challenge for creatives is to come up with ‘long’ ideas rather than ‘big’ ideas. Hardwiring long-termism into the DNA of design is a mammoth but thrilling task. Every brief is an opportunity to make change, and future-proof product for a world that might be unrecognisable to us. To imagine the impact – not just ecological but the human, industrial and behavioural – of our creations, now and forever.
We’ll get there through collective thought and action; collaborating with the greater good in mind, and galvanising our clients to come with us. It’s the brief of a lifetime, and an unprecedented opportunity for designers to collaborate, to open source and share all possibilities, ideas and innovation.
This is our manifesto to redesign tomorrow, making our dream of a thriving planet a self-fulling prophecy.
1 Throw off the shackles and set things on fire.
The future of our planet will be shaped by bold solutions, not piecemeal change. Let’s ignore the status quo and prevailing logic; let’s make audacious creative choices that might shock people today but make perfect sense tomorrow. Let’s be courageous in everything we do, and raise our ambitions to nothing short of world-changing.
2 Transform from the inside
Let’s see every business as an agent for change: we can ignite and inspire them from within. The beauty (and gravity) of working with ‘big business’ means our actions can have giant repercussions. While small might be beautiful, scale means change can happen fast. We can use our seat at the table in a more radical, progressive and inspiring way, and quietly making revolutions happen.
3 Call a halt to greenwashing
Everyone is talking about sustainability, but carefully worded missives that signal intent but not action will get us nowhere. As creatives, it’s our ethical duty and professional imperative not to engage in greenwashing, so let’s interrogate everything and accept nothing without proof. And let’s offer solutions to those over-burdened with reasons ‘why not’ – as designers, our role is to see possibilities where others cannot, and give businesses something meaningful to write on their Sustainability tab.
4 Present new ways of measuring success
Every business must be viable or it will fail. But we’re living in an extraordinary time, where industry leaders are beginning to redefine the metrics of success. From the Business Circle’s reclassifying profit as the fifth priority (which would have been unthinkable even a decade ago) to New Zealand’s recent reassessment of GDP, to the rise of B Corps – a fundamental shift in priorities is taking place. We’re waking up to the fact that purely profit-driven businesses are not going to change the world for the better. Let’s redefine success, and imagine a new ‘luxury’, a new ‘value’ and even a new ‘beautiful’ on the horizon.
5 Debunk the myth of the quick fix
When it comes to throwaway culture, design has a lot to answer for. A ‘Kleenex century’, largely made desirable by design has created a world of branded trash. But those same minds that somehow made disposable acceptable, can do the reverse. We can rediscover the beauty of permanence, of timelessness and forever usefulness. Waste is the worst end of life we can design for… let’s throw ourselves into projects that embrace forever beauty, and ends of life that come about deliberately and safely, without waste or pollution.
6 Harness creativity for good
For decades, design has been a massive accelerator of hyperconsumption, making people desire and demand an endless list of material possessions. Let’s refocus that creativity on finding solutions to the problems we have created. The brief to create change is so exciting - and every designer has it within them to incorporate it into every piece of work they do. We can all be more conscious about the people we work with, the projects we take on and the things we put out into the world. All of us can define and live by our own principles, to make the right choices. Our attitudes and decisions matter. This is the new remit of the creative
7 Redefining the role of the designer
A good designer is one who looks beyond the superficial to see the true beauty in who we are and what we could become. Today, we create complexity where simplicity is the answer. We talk of the ‘circular economy’ as a new idea, but Nature is already the ultimate version. We broke that circle in the Industrial Revolution. Now, as we press forward into the Quality Revolution, we must relearn from Nature. In our man-made world of mass production and sameness, we must remember that every single leaf is unique in the real world. Let us not believe that the answers to our complex problems need to be complex. Complexity delays change. Simplicity will be our accelerator and good design has proven that less is always more, when less is beautiful, and enriches our lives.
8 Find solutions that appeal to all
Sustainable design solutions are often too focused on literal interpretations of what it means to be green. It makes them niche when they should be universally appealing. Let’s eschew stereotypical ‘green’ design and focus on creating solutions that are eminently desirable and beautifully designed. Responsible long-term design is about the creation of a new aesthetic in which the right thing is also the most desirable thing to all.
9 Celebrate thinking brands and businesses
Let’s celebrate the wins: those radical businesses and brands doing the right thing, transcending token gestures and leading by example. When we actively support, spread and build these brands – we’ll make everyone else hungry for the same treatment.
10 We’re in this together
We can all play a part. Whatever you do in the world, whatever your vocation, we call on you now to tap into your creativity and be part of this essential, incredible change. Never feel overwhelmed by the challenge to make a change – all change begins with small steps towards a common goal. We all have it within us to lead by example: real change begins with the person staring back at us in the mirror.
“AFTER THE FINAL NO, THERE COMES A YES, AND ON THAT YES THE FUTURE WORLD DEPENDS.”
— Wallace Stevens