Celebrated since 1995, International Design Day commemorates the founding of the Council on 27 April 1963. Until 2020, this event was celebrated as World Design Day.
International Design Day is an opportunity to recognise the value of design and its capacity for effect change. On this day, we challenge designers to reflect deeply on the well-being of people within their local environments, and to find innovative solutions to local needs by using design as a vehicle to honor diversity and transcend borders.
2021 theme: design for each and all
The theme of International Design Day 2021 is ‘Design for Each and All’. The collective human family is made up of many different, intersecting types of people. How ‘each and all’ humans encounter the designed world depends on varying degrees of equitable access to certain material realities, spaces, and experiences.
Starting in 2021, the event formerly known as World Design Day is now being celebrated as International Design Day (IDD) is an opportunity to recognize the value of design and its capacity for change in the world -- and to celebrate the birthday of ICoD!
The goal of IDD is to challenge designers to reflect deeply on the well-being of people within their local environments, and to find innovative solutions to local needs by using design as a vehicle to honor diversity, transcend borders, and improve quality of life. Marking the anniversary of ICoD’s establishment on 27 April 1963, participants worldwide are invited to gather, innovate, and live out a moment of design by organizing public events and initiatives.
The theme of International Design Day 2021 is 'Design for Each and All'. The collective human family is made up of many different, intersecting types of people. How ‘each and all’ humans encounter the designed world depends on varying degrees of equitable access to certain material realities, spaces, and experiences. The designs that designers create can bring joy, spread information, promote education, grant access to healthcare, and provide knowledge and well-being. It is a fundamental part of the designer’s job to understand how the interplay of social, economic, environmental, technological and geographic factors may grant or block fair access in certain contexts—and to find new ways to let more people ‘in’.
“All people deserve to live in a well-designed world”. Living well and flourishing, supported by objects, places and systems designed to support and encourage this, is something every being should be able to access. The concept of ‘universal experience’ is more often than not, inadequate for most. Designers—whether they are aware of it or not—not only provide improvements to life situations but also often control access these benefits. Design for Each and All is about noticing all the parts present, giving care and attention to a broad range of human variation, relations and environments. More and more, things like family bonds, status, income, whether a person is able-bodied or not, whether they live in the global North or South, shape an ever-changeable design journey. As part this transformative designing process, there are some guiding questions that might lead to more design for each and all:
• How can design shape how people live well and flourish?
• Who is/are ‘each and all’ and what is the context?
• How do I think about ‘just’ and ‘fair’ access in design?
• How does design build a better—more inclusive, fairer— world?
IDD 2021 ACTIONS
Here are some kickstart ideas:
01 For Designers: Discuss and share ideas on social media
We encourage you to post about issues relating to the theme on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), including how design grants and prohibits 'access', how the design process can better consider 'each and every one' including marginalized groups and non-traditional targets, how designed environments, designed objects or design communications might not be adequate for parts of their intended user groups are forgotten. Share with us your historical tidbits, or inspiring stories, the advocacy work of designers that have or are inspiring you. Post and tag us so that we can see and share your stories. Posts can include: personal stories, historical information, inspiring anecdotes, issues in the headlines that highlight the need for professionalism in design, forgotten figures in design history and their contributions. Please note that the use of the ICoD logo is not permitted without the approval of ICoD.
Here’s how to submit:
— Twitter: tag @theicod #IDD2021
— Facebook: join the IDD Group and post your stories
— Instagram: tag @theicod #IDD2021
Please note that only posts that follow the IDD2021 Design for Each and All theme will be shared.
02 For organisations: Virtual Events around the theme
The 2021 theme has many sub-themes that could be of interest for design organisations to explore. These could include:
— diversity in design teams and how that improves outcomes
— accessibility in design
— how design controls access to services, spaces,
— hostile design
— the effects of geo-political factors on design
— the effects of socio-economic factors on the suitability of design solutions
— groups that are excluded or omitted from user-research
— health care effects of exclusionary design
— much more…
We encourage our Members and other design organisations to create digital events (Instagram live interviews, on-line conferences or talks, Zoom gatherings or anything else you can come up with on the theme.
ICoD Facebook (IDD event page)2020
2020 theme:be professional!
For World Design Day 2020 our theme was “Be Professional!”— a reflection on the designer's role, not only in designing, but in our greater responsibilities towards humanity, the planet and culture.
In its last iteration as 'World Design Day' the 2020 theme was Be Professional! challenging designers to reflect deeply on the state of the profession. Many people claim to be "designers”. But what is the distinction between a 'designer' and a 'design professional'? If we maintain that design is not just a job, but actually a profession, like being an architect or a doctor or lawyer, then we must also accept the responsibilities and obligations that come with it. Being a design professional is not merely a title. The designation implies adherence to a code of professional behaviour; it implies obligations towards society and being professionally bound not to cross certain lines.
Designers have an important impact on the built environment and thus on the quality of life of many people as well as the planet. They need to be aware of the impacts of our actions and the responsibilities we have, collectively, in carrying them out professionally.
Practicing designers need to decide if they consider themselves professionals. There is a critical difference between maintaining a professional standard and always providing clients with what (they think) they want. Sometimes these two things can be at odds in terms of the responsibilities of a design professional. If they consider themselves 'professional', then they must adhere to a set of commonly held principles that they are not willing to compromise. If they consider ourselves 'professionals' then they must consider the impact of their work on more than the client and the individual end-user; designers are accountable for the social, cultural and environmental costs of their professional actions.
The International Council of Design is today the largest international organisation representing professional associations of designers, across the spectrum of design disciplines. Recognising the increasingly influential role played by designers in the 21st century, against a backdrop of economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges caused by unleashed consumption, the Council realises the urgent need for the design community to re-evaluate the designer’s role and responsibilities. Designers must redefine the meaning of being a professional designer.
We would like to thank Peter Bankov once again for his design of this year's theme poster!2019
2019 theme:women in design
For World Design Day 2019 we wanted to highlight women designers. Designers who create intelligent, inclusive, sensitive design, whether to make big differences or small ones. This year we proposed activities and to honor women designers past and present.
The goal of World Design Day is to challenge designers to reflect deeply on the state of the profession. Design affects the well-being of people within their local environments and offers innovative solutions. Design is a vehicle to honour diversity, transcend borders, and improve quality of life. Marking the anniversary of the establishment of the International Council of Design on 27 April 1963, participants worldwide are invited to gather, innovate, and live out a moment of design by organising public events and initiatives on 27 April of each year.
Women designers are important contributors to the discourse on global change. All over the world women are designing for better health, justice, human rights—in homes and in cities and for the earth in general—actively widening the conversation about what it means to be a professional designer in this time. Women are working in teams, in communities and with governments to find ways to collaborate and have impact. Yet recognised designers remain predominantly men. Design history has tended to overlook the achievements of women. For World Design Day 2019 we want to highlight women designers who create intelligent, inclusive, sensitive design, whether to make big differences or small ones. The Women in Design theme honors and shouts out to remarkable women designers past and present.
British design critic Alice Rawsthorn conducted a day-long instagram takeover on World Design Day (Saturday, 27 April 2019). Those familiar with Rawsthorn's instagram account will know that her posts are researched and full of rich details touching both design history and thought-provoking insights on the state of design going forward. Look back at her observations of the Bauhaus, gender data bias in design and some of the women who have made their mark despite the odds.
In 2019, ICoD was is a very proud partner of the Aiap Women in Design Award. A biennial international award in the space of communication design that was founded by the Italian Communication Design Association, Aiap. One way to increase the profile of women designers is to recognize their work and this Award devotes itself entirely to promoting women designers and making a place for them in design history.
The WDD2019 visuals were designed by the multitalented Russian poster designer Peter Bankov. Working between Moscow and Prague, Bankov also works “between terrible design and beautiful, national and anti-national, West Slavic and East Slavic, European and Asian design.” Founder of Design Depot studio and editor of KAK magazine, Bankov has managed to produce over 800 posters, what he calls his “design opuses.” www.bankovposters.com
Download your copy of the WDD2019: Women in Design poster here:
For more information on International Design Day contact Events Manager Elizabeth Carbonell at email@example.com
2018 theme:kids can too!
The 2018 iteration of World Design Day focused on the younger generations. 'Kids can too!' focused on the spaces where design intersects with the universe of children. There is a lot of hope for the next generations: that they will have the tools to navigate the complex world they will be left, that their optimism and innocence will drive them to make the world better. 'Kids can too!’ expresses our expectation that they will live up to these hopes.
Design is transformative and knowing that the kids of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, early awareness of design as a field of professional practice and of elemental design methodology, is key. Start Young was a hands-on workshop developped for World Design Day 2017 that pushes children to explore their creative potential freely and trust their capacity to solve problems and test their solutions. With Start Young, kids learn to recognise the design around them and the basics of design methodology.
In 2018 the workshop was given by ICoD Members, collaborators and by a handful of international partners including the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires – MALBA (Argentina), Casa Wabi (Mexico), Design Exchange (Canada), the Triennale di Milano (Italy), Open Design Afrika (South Africa), and MUMEDI – Museo Mexicano del Diseño (Mexico).
Designing for Children
Integrating children’s rights and ethics into the heart of the design process, the Designing for Children Guide was created by designers, psychologists, neuroscientists, health care specialists, educators, and children’s rights experts in Helsinki. The aim of this evolving guide is to refine a new standard for both design and businesses and direct the development towards products and services that have ethics and children’s best interests at their core.
The WDD 2018: Kids can too! logo was designed by Peter Bankov (Moscow).
See the recap news story here.
For more information contact Events Manager Elizabeth Carbonell at firstname.lastname@example.org
2017 theme:start young
The 2017 theme was 'Start Young' introducing the idea that everybody should have basic design literacy, starting with children. The Council believes that design is transformative and knowing that the kids of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, early awareness of design as a field of professional practice and of elemental design methodology is key.
Kids are a blank slate. They are at an age when their view of the world and its possibilities are limitless. As the first generation of ‘pure’ digital natives, today’s kids already feel personally responsible for their own futures: they want to be able to choose and create work that makes a difference in the world. And they will do it in their own, unique way. But how do we prepare young kids to navigate this turbulent world, so they can become sensitive, intellectual, imaginative and practical leaders for tomorrow? Having a designing mindset means being tuned into the invisible things that matter to people and their relationships to each other and the world.
The Council sees the great potential for design to improve the world around us. We know that design changes—for the better—how we live and thrive in everyday environments like schools, parks, workplaces and hospitals. The profession of design and its ethics requires designers to consider context, culture, diversity and specificity before even starting to design, and this has become an essential way of thinking and being in the complex world we live in today.
What if design was taught to children the same way math is: everyday, and on equal footing with science, history and languages? Nearly everywhere in the world, math is considered one of the essential subjects necessary for developing a well-rounded, young mind. The logic is, though many of us won’t become mathematicians, we inherently know math is useful, as it shapes and enlarges our brains in a particular, irrefutable way. In some countries, design is already considered to be an essential subject in elementary school curriculum. The same logic stands: by teaching design to children, they may not become designers, but they will know how to think and be like them. It’s about cultivating and nurturing a designing-mindset. And it’s best to start young.
Partnering with Montreal-based design studio We are Rap, the Council has developed a workshop to introduce design to a whole new generation. The half-day activity is a primer on design with some hand-on exercises to initiate the participants into a basic form of design methodology.
The hands-on workshops will push the children participating to explore their creative potential freely and trust their capacity to solve problems and test their solutions. They will be asked to:
Observe > Analyze > Solve > Model > Test
Partner entities gave the workshop over several days with surprising, inspiring and fun results. The partner organisations for the 2017 iteration of the anniversary event gave the workshop in five languages; in English — at Open Design Afrika (South Africa); in Italian — at Triennale Milano (Italy); in French — at Collège Sainte-Anne (Canada); in Spanish — at Casa Wabi (Mexico); and in Korean at Seoul Design Foundation (South Korea). Kids learned some design fundamentals and then got hands-on with the designing process (to make a chair they could actually sit on)!
See the recap news story here.
For more information contact Events Manager Elizabeth Carbonell at email@example.com
2016 theme:design in action!
One of the great things about design is that it can make such a big impact on everyday life. From the bike paths that make zipping around the city safer and faster, to the telephone that connects you to your friends and families, to the way-finding that helps you not get lost and the high-tech gear that helps you do the sports you like, good Design, meaningful Design, is constantly in Action!—helping, directing, improving, creating.
In 2016, the theme was Design in Action! We invited designers around the world to participate in WDD2016 by sharing examples of design in action in their city or community via Facebook and Instagram! Share photos, videos, illustrations or other representations of the way design is used to make your life better. All design disciplines and forms of expression were welcome.
We invited designers to share by sending us the documentation of what they saw or made: videos, photos, drawings, maps and more.
Go public on local design
We encouraged designers and organisations to organise local talks or presentations about examples of Design in Action!
Take us on a tour
We invited Members to organise a walk with members of their design community, touring their city and surroundings in search of local examples of Design in Action!
We challenged designers to bring people from various disciplines to frame and solve local design problems. We asked them to send us the documentation or showing their communities examples of what great design means to them in studio tours.
Download the toolkit here
See the recap of all the great examples sent to us here.
Questions about International Design Day? Contact Events Manager Elizabeth Carbonell firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 theme:how are you designing today?
In 2015 we asked the question "how are you designing today?". Every aspect of tomorrow is being designed today. By designers. The Council invited designers to reveal their designing process – to uncover how they evolve ideas when designing for our future.
Points of Departure
Designing, at its core, is a creative process aimed to solve a problem according to local context and audience. The process is often invisible and yet typically involves many participants, numerous stages and hidden moments to achieve the final outcome.
The Council asked: How are you designing the future today? How does your unique approach to your process take into account future generations? How do you consider the life-cycle of your design, and its environmental and economic impact? What kind of software, techniques, texts, collaborations and jam-sessions have inspired and enabled you to get there?
World Design Day is driven by Council Members and Community. We invited them to share their own events, initiatives, statements and expressions by sending us videos, photos, drawings. Suggestions for activities included:
- Go Public on Process - organise local talks/ debates/ lectures/ presentations about designing and the value of the designing process.
- Design Together - bring people from various disciplines to frame and solve local design problems.
- Open-Studio Tours to share with the public the environment in which you design, helping them to see the process, the inspirations, the invisible steps, and who is involved.
- Celebrate Designing Processes by working with local governments to recognise World Design Day and highlight the community impact of the profession.
- Document Your Process by expressing your How are you designing today? statement – in any medium.