Design for social change

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More Hugs How DesignI recently was catching up on my reading with the Spring 2016 issue of How Design magazine (I was reading the print magazine. I love the texture of the pages, and this magazine has various types of textures on the pages. Seriously. Glossy, thick, raised parts to a page). This magazine is dedicated to exploring the world of design, and it is a treasure of inspiration and design excellence. The Spring 2016 issue was the International Design Annual, exploring How Place Plays as Role in Creativity.

This particular issue (Volume 31, issue no. 1) had a really great interview with Ken Lo, owner of Blow, a design agency in Hong Kong. Ken Lo is also founder of a graphic project titled More Hugs. I personally love this project idea. The world needs more love and hugs. And this is even more apparent with the recent world events, such as the shootings of young black men and police officers in the US, and terrorist attacks globally.

“The action of a hug has so many meanings. When you hug someone you are connected with them. You become one. you press your heart against their heart. So More Hugs is my project to spread this icon. This symbol should be applied to so many problems like discrimination or disagreement. We are different people. We have different religions, believe different things, but we are together in the same world. I will always choose to make people happy. Because you don’t need to make people more scared or sad. There is already enough of that in the world”.

Wenzlau, Grant. “More Hugs.” How Design Spring 2016: 34-39

There certainly is enough things or actions that make us scared or sad. Working in a public library in a busy downtown city, I can see this on a daily basis as well. I see the sad and lonely. The library is a refuge and safe place for those who do not have somewhere safe to go. All sorts of different people come through our doors. It is so easy to put someone down and to not think kindly on them.

But just imagine if you changed your mindset and felt compassion for that person. I’m not saying you need to physically give everyone a hug, but what if you gave them a mental hug? Can you feel your heart lighten towards them? Maybe share a smile?

I feel inspired by Ken Lo’s work. He is demonstrating one of the things I love about art – how it can be a medium for social change. A visual image can pack a lot of meaning into it. A dancer can exude so much emotion it brings you to tears. A musical composition can make you so happy (and not just Pharrell William’s Happy song).

Design is another way to spread a message and raise awareness of the populace to issues that effect us all. I would love to see his project take off, and be seen around the world.

What do you think? Can more hugs change the world?

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