world design day 2020: be professional!

Credit: Peter Bankov
Credit: Peter Bankov

13.11.2019 ICoD news

For World Design Day 2020 our theme is “Be Professional!”—a reflection on the designer's role, not only in designing, but in our greater responsibilities towards humanity, the planet and culture.

EDIT: For the 2020 Edition of World Design Day, we are now proposing a "Virtual" celebration in light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Plan your on-line event or participate through social media channels. We can't meet up physically but we can meet up virtually!

World Design Day (WDD) is an opportunity to recognise the value of design and its capacity for change in the world—and to celebrate the birthday of ico-D. 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. The WDD2020 theme: Be Professional! challenges designers to reflect deeply on the state of the profession. This year—on 27 April 2020—we propose activities to honour the great legacy of the design profession with a focus on the things that make us professionals at what we do


Designers have an important impact on the built environment and thus on the quality of life of many people as well as the planet. We need to be aware of the impacts of our actions and the responsibilities we have, collectively, in carrying them out professionally. 

As practicing designers, we need to decide if we consider ourselves 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 we consider ourselves professional, then we must adhere to a set of commonly held principles that we are not willing to compromise. If we consider ourselves professionals then we must consider the impact of our work on more than the client and the individual end-user; we are accountable for the social, cultural and environmental costs of our 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. Please note that the use of the ico-D logo is not permitted without the approval of ico-D.



Here are some kickstart ideas:

01 For Designers: Discuss design professionalism on social media
We encourage you to post about issues relating to the professional aspects of design on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). 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.

Here’s how to submit:

Twitter: tag @theicod #WDD2020
Facebook: join the WDD Group and post your stories
Instagram: tag @theicod #WDD2020

Please note that only posts that follow the WDD2020 Be Professional! theme will be shared.

02 For organisations: Activities to promote Professionalism in Design
Many of our Member organisations have developed Codes of Conduct, Codes of Ethics, and manifestos ranging from simple and concise, to detailed and focused on specific disciplines of design. Create your own Code or disseminate the information within your organisation. You can access our Reading List here.

Create an on-line conference or webinar on design ethics or issues of professionalism in design, create a mentorship programme for young designers, or plan another activity that shines a light on current issues in design practice or issues of professional standards.

We would like to thank Peter Bankov once again for his design of this year's theme poster!



Council Twitter
Council Facebook Group (WDD event page)
Council Instagram
Reading List on Design and Ethics


Credit: Peter Bankov
Credit: Peter Bankov