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Understanding of Ethics In Design

When we sat down to interview Ana Grigorovici of Uncommon Goods, she excited an epiphany in our relationship with design. Grigorovici reminded us that “everything is design” because almost everything is designed

Illustration by Arianna Cristiano

“Every interaction is designed, our outfits are designed for different occasions from interviews to parties. Someone once told society that different types of clothing are fit for certain occasions etc. From technology to architecture to fashion, these are the fabrics of society and they are all designed. Asking why design is important is like asking why water is important – our lives are made of design!” 

If therefore, everything is designed it must mean that design has an effect on everything and vica versa. In recent years, focuses on acoustic design have risen especially since the surge in working from home during the pandemic. Things in the office or home that don’t take acoustic design into consideration – and therefore make loud and disturbing noises – can have a huge effect on our mental health and concentration levels. 

Fortunately, many designers, like Ana, are taking considerate design under their wing. Uncommon Goods literally formed together because each member wanted to “provide the third sector with better design. None of us wanted to design for things that weren’t helping society or the environment. We also wanted to co-design with clients who also design so that we help others find a solution for something beneficial.”

Companies like Quiet Mark certify household and acoustic products based on their noise pollution levels. If a product is Quiet Mark certified then it is a product that promotes good acoustics and therefore great mental health. 

Quiet Mark recently surveyed 2,000 British adults for its National Noise Report. The results show that 52% of people would factor noise into their future employment decision and 28% would prioritise working from home due to its quieter environment and ability for more concentration. For this reason it is paramount that the soundscape of a working environment – be it at home or in the office – be one that encourages productivity through sound or their lack of in some cases.

You would also be surprised how design in the office and workplace can influence things like diversity and equality. Now that we shift into a WFH (work from home) and office work hybrid, a desire for comfort in the workplace is of growing importance. 

Vicki Mantle is Head of Sales at Muffle, an online shopping acoustics site. In a podcast feature she stated “as we shift into this flexible working lifestyle, people don’t want a static workspace because in two years time people want to still be able to utilise the products they have. Hence the popularity of pods on wheels and moveable screens. Designers and architects are having to become more creative in their approach to designing a work space.”

Creating a flexible workspace where mobility and comfort are prioritised, maintaining a rigid sense of hierarchy is challenging. Comfort and portability force employers and employees alike to meet at the same level regardless of their background, race, class, gender identity or sexuality. Of course, design cannot, unfortunately, erase these inequalities and it is always the responsibility of those in power to pay due respect and avoid any discrimination but design can help create a space that encourages equality. 

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