In this excellent article in Seed Magazine, Paula Antonelli talks about the power of design in governance, citing examples from the past of various political regimes that have used design consciously in their approaches to governance. She writes,
Attentive as it always is to human needs and limitations, as well as to well-being and progress, design can be instrumental in dealing with identity and pluralism in countries that have seen large waves of immigration by helping to reconfigure hybrid communities using new, open-ended symbols of belonging; it can help governments deal with pressing social issues ranging from an aging population to obesity to emergency displacements of large groups of people because of catastrophes, man-made or natural; it can support policymakers in their attempt to prototype new models for health-care systems and other large infrastructures; it can serve as an interface between science and policymaking by helping integrate innovation into people’s lives and steer behaviors in the right direction with interventions that are delicate, sensitive, and inspirational enough to make a big difference.
She talks about moving away from the traditional view of design as the rendering of surfaces and patterns, and to view it instead as
not as a mere aesthetic or functional tool but as a conceptual method, based on scenarios that keep human beings in focus, with the means consequently allotted in elegant, economic, and organic ways to achieve the imagined goals. Even though design alone will not solve everything, it will, as always, help create and implement effective solutions that are attuned to human nature. Several countries are experimenting with this approach. For instance, Singapore has a permanent design council consisting of international and local experts advising ministers on matters ranging from sustainability to health care. Korea bets its competitive nature on design by not only supporting the promotion and diffusion of its products, but also by relentlessly lobbying to host large global events such as Seoul Design Capital 2010 and by building transdisciplinary design schools. Malaysia’s Design Innovation Center is supported directly by the president and the prime minister. These countries believe that design can support their economy by incorporating innovation and also heighten their cultural status on the global stage. Oddly enough, some of the countries most lauded for their design sophistication, such as Italy and Japan, feature the most design-obtuse governments.
Read the rest of the article here.