Does Design Save Lives? / by Heather Dunmoyer

I've heard it before, "design saves lives." It's a bold statement. One that promises human life and this notion of a "savior." It's a term I've grappled with and rolled around in my head for so long that it's beginning to cumulate into a great upchuck of response. 

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them." —Albert Einstein 

The boldness of this statement is jarring. When considering the word design and boiling it down to a pulpy concentrate, it contains the essential vessel, the mind. Albert definitely knew a thing or two about design, and the reality is, we all do. Design is second nature to mankind. We are constantly designing. We create spreadsheets to design a schedule, in a program that was designed by someone, using a computer that was also created by man, you might have been sitting in a chair that at one point was concepted by the thought of a designer—it is a never-ending design process. Design solves problems but these problems begin with us. 

We are designers. Every one of us. It's a huge responsibility to fully capture the thought. As designers, we have the power and ability to create a system, model, structure, etc. that can either improve or burden. We must constantly re-invent the wheel, or even scrap the wheel idea altogether and develop a new one. Maybe a jet or a way to teleport, or maybe a billion other solutions. Design is power and with great design, comes great responsibility. The challenge before us is abandoning all humility and claiming self-righteousness to brand our design. Design is not selfish, but rather a new way to share and encourage creativity. Excellent design provokes new ways to think. 

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking. — R Buckminister Fuller.

Design is a valuable tool. One that if shared effectively, can result in problem solving ideas that can go beyond expectations and even save a life. We are constantly faced with problems, and design is evolving just as fast as these problems propagate. Giving us the responsibility to challenge our way our way of thinking to solve these sometimes life-threatening problems. So take up your tools, and do good. Design well, and challenge yourself to a new way of looking at the problem at hand.