Design CAN: A call for the design industry to become representative of the society it serves

How we discuss ‘change’ has changed. The democratisation of communications channels has led to marginalised voices galvanising and gaining momentum in the debate of equity for all. Yet the truth is equity remains a radical concept, and radical action is a demanding process. It can induce discomfort, requires introspection, imaginative speculation and most importantly, reformation.

Knowing what we’re really asking of ourselves is the first step. This is what turns rhetoric into meaningful change — in turn making change so hard to achieve. As human beings, we need answers to these questions if we’ve any hope of creating a sustainable future.

Tackling this task head-on is Design Can: an initiative to make the UK’s design industry representative of the society it serves and making inclusivity a design standard. A small ask you may say, in the scheme of things. Unfortunately, the data proves otherwise.

“When I once asked a magazine editor why he didn’t commission more diverse design writers, including women, he said: but where are they? Design Can will hopefully help us rebut the ‘but’.” ~ Priya Khanchandani, editor of ICON

The Platform

Design Can was conceived in 2018, emerging out of growing frustrations with the lack of progress on these issues. Following these conversations, a group evolved and conceived Design Can as a campaign – made up of Icon’s Priya Khanchandani, designer Yinka IloriIntoart co-founder Ella Ritchie, Let’s Be Brief (Stephanie McLaren-Neckles, Ansel Neckles), Dr Jane Norris and the Zetteler team.

Designed by recent CSM graduates Not Flat 3, the Design Can platform works through five simple sections – read, watch, listen, follow, attend – providing an inclusive view of the design industry. Championing emerging and established designers; highlight important articles, videos and podcasts; and spotlighting events. Ultimately, giving those in the position of organising a panel or an exhibition, editorial etc, a toolkit to help make the industry representative.

The site also features a ten-step action plan: You Can, a simple step-by-step guide on how individuals can take personal responsibility and practical measures that can shape industry for the better.

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