Design for Development (D4D) is a social design initiative where graphic design students and faculty leave our studios to work in the field with artisans, farmers, and organizers on locally defined projects. Bringing together people from diverse communities and disciplines, we design creative, innovative, and sustainable solutions for social, cultural, economic, and environmental problems.
We believe design is a tool to empower people and change the way we think.
The value of our process is beyond the products we produce—it is what we cumulatively share, exchange, and learn with all of our partners. Projects we undertake are rich opportunities for innovation, development, and a positive impact for all. We work to leverage these values.
Our philosophy is to work with people as partners, without hierarchies and titles, with mutual opportunities and benefits, and to create positive and open interactions.
But we can only really do this through personal interactions – in other words fieldwork– that build deeper, more meaningful relationships. Understanding increases as we work through complexities because working together in the field allows us to ask questions, observe, and have conversations – even about those things which may later relate or inform our work. So this is different from a normal design process, with meetings billed by the hour. Here we spent 10–12 hour days working together.
D4D is a co-design lab of María Rogal. My design research over the past 15 years has focused on co-design and dialogue, together with horizontal methods and decolonizing concepts, in an ongoing effort to address power imbalances, particularly among Indigenous and marginalized communities.