Interview with Jayson Zaleski: Design Educator and Communication Designer

This week’s Designing for Good Interview is with Jayson Zaleski, a Communication & Design faculty at OCAD University and partner at creative collective Kolor

DF: As a designer, how has design impacted the cause or organization you are involved with?

JZ: Designing for clients, institutions, organizations, and companies that I have worked with in the past has generally brought an additional layer of understanding and focus of these institution’s clients/causes/audiences/research focusses, in part, as a result of the design processes that are implemented within the development of the project. After development, when design research and development has been implemented, the results of the process generally fosters an increased awareness of the issues and people involved as a result of the more strategic and clear-sighted design-related improvements within the overall framework, whether that be aesthetic, communicative, strategic/infrastructural, or programmatic/systems related.

DF: Do you feel that non-profits, social enterprises and grassroots initiatives can survive and compete for attention with the visual branding of large companies?

JZ: I believe that they have adopted many of the branding strategies that corporate institutions have used in order to widen their scope, and this has had both positive and negative impacts. If the name of the game in survival is obtaining as much market share as one can in order to advance one’s cause, then branding and design programs serve the function.

DF: In your opinion, should all designers have some sustainability or social conscious in their practice and philosophy?

JZ: I believe that the definitions surrounding “sustainability” still require more clarification in order for designers to respond accordingly. If, for instance, an industrial designer legally requires only 3 percent of a reclaimed or reused material within a mass produced product to be labelled as “green”, then I think there are gross loopholes within the system. Clarification around many of these topics and definitions, which by the way can be highly polemic, is required in order for all actors involved to be working on a level playing field.

DF: Do you think that a physical storefront (or space or studio) dedicated to offering design services for “good” would be a useful idea?

JZ: Any organization dedicating itself to “doing good” is advisable, and would no doubt positively benefit communities and the social institutions therein.

DF: Are there any non-profits or social causes that you would identify as examples of good design having a positive impact overall? Do you know of any causes, movements, groups or non-profits specifically that lack great design, and could benefit from some assistance should the services be provided?

JZ: One of the most intriguing examples of a design company devoting itself to social causes is a Slovak firm called Dizajnna Kolesach. They have a design program titled “Design on the Wheels” whereby they devote a stated number of weeks per year to exchanging design services for room and board from organizations who cannot pay for professional design services. In their words, “We went to uplift the visual culture of the surrondings of Slovakia with the slogan: ’you pay, we camp’.”

About The Author

Daniel Francavilla

Daniel is a graduate of OCAD University's Graphic Design program. He is the founder of Now Creative Group, and is inspired to make positive change through design and youth organizations like ACCESS and Speak Up for Change. Follow him on Twitter @Francavilla and @NowCreates.

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02 2012

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