a well-designed world

For the first time, after decades of efforts, the international design community—including architecture, urban planning and a range of design specialisations—convened to declare a united vision on the role design can, and must, play to ensure a better future.

Signed in Montréal (Canada) on 23 October 2017 the Montréal Design Declaration acknowledges the capacity of design to be a source of creative transformation and an agent for change, advocating for its critical role and responsibility in creating a world that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially equitable and culturally diverse. This initiative — between governmental, IGOs, NGOs and private and civil sectors of society from around the world, demonstrates the value of working in a collaborative and integrated way to foster design for common benefit.

The Montréal Design Declaration proclaims the broad impact of design on humanity and the planet, and the central role that designers can, and therefore must, play. Core messages from the Declaration include:

“…[D]esigners—too long the servants of producers—better serve humanity as the ambassadors of the end-users: the citizens of the world.”

“All people deserve to live in a well-designed world.”

The action phase of the Declaration pursues a list of 20 proposed collaborative Projects, a range of initiatives that aim to: develop a metrics to measure design impact; develop a common and inclusive language to communicate the value of design; launch projects to help raise living standards, healthcare and transit; make design available to low-income populations; and create mechanisms for ongoing, improved dialogue and collaboration with governments so that these intentions become reality.

The ideas presented by the Declaration influence the ideology and strategy of the Council today. The call to reposition design and to transition designers from the traditional role of being at service to the producer—to being at service to the public—has pushed our critical thinking and work to redefine what it means to be a professional designer. To help shift practice and behaviour of designers worldwide, the Council’s updated Professional Code of Conduct and Best Practice documents reflect core values laid out by the Declaration, advocating for the designer’s role and responsibility, at all times, to consider the environmental, economic, social and cultural implications of all design work.