Posts Tagged ‘Design’

What Does Designing for “Good” Mean?

Despite its increasing popularity today, “designing for good”, also referred to as “social design”, has existed since the early Modernists established the concept of “good design for everyone”.

However later in history, the focus of design shifted toward consumerism and desire, due to industrialization and mass production. Today, with economic situations changing rapidly and consumers becoming more critical of their governments and corporations, the idea of social responsibility and design for good is well on its way to becoming mainstream – now even with large corporations on-board.

In many ways it is up to designers to maintain this positive movement and continue to practice social design. Adrian Shaughnessy explains that practicing social design for the common good, essentially, means “questioning what we do and who we do it for.” Although easier said than done, it is the way of the future, as designers must shift their focus toward ethical and socially responsible practices and products.

Evidently it is natural for humans to help one another, and contribute to the greater good. In terms of graphic design specifically, the meaning of “designing for good” must be defined. An article on Elefint Designs’ blog about design for good specifically explains why the social sector needs a new vocabulary. Elefint explains that the word “good” is used very frequently in the areas of both design and non-profit work. For example, GOOD Magazine and Mashable’s Social Good “have helped elevate the definition of good in the popular consciousness to mean ‘with a greater purpose’ or ‘meaningful.’” There are alternate meanings of the word “good” however, explained online:

While there is the risk of confusing it with the definition “effective” (in fact we are about to write an article on “good marketing” that means “effective marketing”) and while “the good sector” sounds a bit funny, we can mitigate this problem by combining “good” with other words, such as “for” to come up with a clear meaning. “Design for good”, “marketing for good”, “architects for good”, etc. are all great ways to clearly signal a commitment to the greater good. This definition ignores causes and tax status, and could be applied across the social sector.

Essentially, “good” is used in relation to a positive future, one that allows a sustainable world that supports everyone.


11 2013

Logo launched for Scarborough Civic Action Network

As described in a previous post about the progress, a new logo was designed for the Scarborough Civic Action Network as a deliverable for the Designing for Good thesis, as an example of what would be produced from the centre. For background information on the logo design process, click here.

Despite the effectiveness of the Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN) in extending its reach throughout Scarborough and facilitating civic engagement over the past ten years, the organization did not have a logo to identify their work.

SCAN wanted a logo that represented connecting people and ideas across Scarborough, and the positive growth and change that develops from these connections. They also wanted the logo to reflect that the civic engagement work undertaken in Scarborough has ripple effects throughout our communities, Scarborough and the City of Toronto.

Jessica Roher, Coordinator at SCAN during the process, explained that “the logo developed by Daniel Francavilla reflects the positive impact we can have when we make a concerted effort to contribute to improving our communities.”

“While we wanted SCAN’s logo to be professional and clean, we also wanted to ensure that it reflects that we work with communities at the grassroots level to make civic engagement fun and accessible. Capitalizing the word ‘Scarborough’ while writing ‘civic action network’ in lower case, allowed us to balance the formal and informal engagement that we do.”

In addition, the organization required flexibility because the Scarborough Civic Action Network is known by most in the community as SCAN but has previously been referred to as ‘ScarboroughCAN’.

A logo was developed along with three alternative variations to be used in certain situations. The main logo, displayed above as the finalized design, will be applied to SCAN’s documents and marketing materials, beginning with the website (currently being developed). Along with the logo, a typographic style and colour scheme were provided to the organization for implementation.

“We wanted to make sure that our logo could be adjusted so that variations could be used for different events. Daniel developed a logo that allows for this flexibility but is consistent,” Roher explained, ”We are really excited about our new logo because we know it will help us extend our reach further and be more visible in the community”.

Colin Hughes, Chair of SCAN, stated:

“We are very pleased and excited about the new logo designed by Daniel Francavilla for the Scarborough Civic Action Network and extend to him our gratitude and congratulations! The new logo gives SCAN an unique and fitting visual presence and is especially needed to make fuller use of social media to outreach and connect with the community on civic issues and civic involvement.”

It was a very positive experience working with the SCAN team and developing a logo for an organization that is making real change within Toronto.

Organizations interested in design services can contact


04 2012

Interview with Zahra Ebrahim: Creativity Architect, Designer, Community Activist

This week’s Designing for Good interview is with Zahra Ebrahim, a creativity architect, community activist, professor at OCAD U – and the Founder and Principal of archiTEXT inc, a Toronto design consultancy and think tank.

DF: As a designer who has also worked with non-profit organizations and community groups, how has design impacted the initiatives you have been involved with?  

ZE: There are a few dimensions. In my work, I get to use design (architecture) as a tool to introduce kids to what the idea of being a creative is. It opens them up to the idea. For example, my studio is currently facilitating a project where kids are building a building right now and they’re seeing community come together through the design process, bringing architecture to inner suburbs, exploring models of economic development, and enabling them access to a traditionally inaccessible discipline. If you give the responsibility of design to people that would not necessarily have access to it, you are making the seemingly impossible possible. Design is a tool to enable people, and is also a mobilizer.

DF: What are your thoughts on how your organization or project (or one you know of) would function with poor, default, unthoughtful design and branding?

ZE: The problem is people are willing to accept mediocre design. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with ReThink Breast Cancer. When I was asked to get involved initially, I was impressed by their attention to design. By valuing good design, they invest in an authentic representation of their organization. A designer clearly did their due diligence, because a visual was created, that I (an outsider to the organization) can connect with. So when I interface with them visually, it helps establish a stronger relationship.

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?

ZE:  Yeah. There are some really great examples. In a perfect world, a Graphic Designer doesn’t give better work to the corporation. What comes out is a representation of the process of engaging with the organization. A designer creating for “Not Far From the Tree” vs. “Ford” should have the same quality. There’s no competition. Design is supposed to be consistent.

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

ZE: It’s like acting – if you have it, you have it. For some of us it runs in our blood stream, so to mandate it would be counter-intuitive. For those that need to develop a socially conscious thread to their work, it is about finding an authentic connection to something that deeply affects them. What’s also changing is that people are more scrutinizing. There’s more choice. A client may not be looking for a socially conscious twist, but to have it makes you more attractive to work with. Now, that’s what gets the edge. A colleague of mine always says: “Volunteering is to the 90s what going to the country club was to the 70s…”

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

ZE: Organizations need good visual identities. What a storefront does is provides access to it. How do these organizations find out about this plea? How do they find you, how do they interface with you? Go into communities that don’t have any access to design. It’s all about how they find you. It’s about access. Bridging the design community with those in need of good design.


04 2012

Quote Poster Series: Designing for Good

A series of posters based on the quotes from both the Interview Series and the Designing for Good Video for new graphic designers.

The above gallery consists of JPG files. To view the full-size poster or download the file, simply right-click and choose Save Linked File as.


04 2012