Design Democracy Evolution #design #community #news

The Early Days

That heading cracks me up. I have to use “Days” because it’s only been 5 months since Design Democracy was born, and yet it feels like a lot has happened. When I first set out to create this community, I really had no idea what or how it was going to take shape. I just had a vision for bringing people, not just designers, together to talk about design. This was not limited to just graphic design though — I envisioned architects, fashion designers, interiors designers, landscape designers (not landscapers, those are different), and industrial designers coming together to share what we’re all passionate about.

At the time, my company, Bureau 149, was very keen on social media and networking. We believed, like a million other agencies, that social media would revolutionize the advertising and marketing industries. That companies needed to understand the value of the new tools that were hailed by the media because if they didn’t they’d be left behind. So Design Democracy was initially an experiment that we had hoped to build a case study on. It’s become so much more than that.

It was exciting to create this, but I wanted to do this on my own without the help of my company. This was going to just be my pet-project because I didn’t want to dilute it with commercial interests. Design Democracy was going to be my baby. I personally fund it as well as devote my personal time to managing and participating in the community. And I will continue to do so for as long as it is within my means because I love the community.

In case you wondered, Design Democracy’s purpose was to do more than just share what is still most commonly shared online — tips, fonts, tuts, assets, tools, etc. Those are all well and good, but I wanted this community to be more about why design is relevant and why it is vital to not only commerce but culture as well

Here and Now

So, here’s an update on what’s happening now. Well, as you can see, we’ve finally got more than just a “bug” or avatar representing the community (i.e. the interlinking DD). We have a logotype, a positioning statement, and a tag line. My background is in branding, advertising and design and I tend to think like all three whenever I work on something. It’s not enough for me to do just one. They all work in concert as far as I’m concerned. The tag line went through two iterations before becoming what it is now.

The first time I cracked it out it read, “Bringing the Value of Design to the Masses. Join the Movement.”

It seemed appropriate at the time. After a while, I thought that it came off a little too strong and arrogant as if we, as designers, are the shit and everybody needed to listen and watch. Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t like pretentious designers that scoff at others they perceive to be less capable or talented. That’s just not my style. 

So then, I went to the community to share the second iteration:

“Sharing the Value of Design, Ethics and Inspiration with the Masses. Join the Movement.”

What I wanted to communicate here was two-way communication first and foremost. The first tag was like, “Let’s show the world what we got and make them understand.” In contrast, this tag sent a friendlier message and included ethics and inspiration. The motive behind the first tag stemmed from a frustration my company felt towards clients who just didn’t seem to get it. They didn’t see the value of what we were doing for them as designers. But after a while, I began to see from the interactions I’ve had with designers on Twitter that it is more about sharing.

The new tag line, “sharing value, ethics and inspiration” is Zen-like. 

It says what needs to be said without saying anything more or less. I dropped the “Join the Movement” part because it just sounded too much like there was a revolution happening. No, no revolution happening here. Just good people. I also dropped the bit about the “masses”. I’m like, “No duh, Arnold, of course it’s going to the masses, it’s online you idiot and your on Twitter.” I did throw in a qualifier in the site heading to show people what the site is as well as what it does. So, there it is. My rationale behind Design Democracy in a nutshell.

I’m excited by what has happened and seeing all the new faces of friends and colleagues. I enjoy seeing people build relationships. This, to me, is what the community is really about. If our profession is going to stand a chance at achieving the respect and recognition as a such, then we must have solidarity while encouraging innovation. 

I should mention that we’ve also got a partner in another online community. One of the fastest-growing design communities and, as of this writing, the largest one on Twitter for chatting about all things design — DCTH, or Design Twitter Community Hours. You can follow them on Twitter (@DCTH) and visit their website. They are run by a great set of people. In fact, DCTH is the vision of Chad Engle (@chadengle on Twitter), a design innovator from West Virginia. It blows my mind what he and his clan are doing.

The relationship is still fairly new and much needs to be done to formalize how the two will work together. But for now, it’s just fine with me to give them props and promote their weekly chats on our community site and on Twitter and vice versa. But trust me on this, once I get through all the big projects I’ve been swamped with for the past 3 months, look for our communities to heat things up.

In Retrospect

What started out as an experiment to build a case study has evolved into a place where I can meet great people and share everything about design. I love design because things that look good and work make life enjoyable — whether it’s a car, a mobile phone, a website, billboard, home, or shoes. Good design can be seen everywhere. I don’t think we’ll ever see a day when everyone gets design. It’s just not gonna happen.  But we can do what we can to educate those who decide to work with or employ us.

One last note, before I close. Whenever you possibly can, experiment please! Find your niche. Break out of the box even if it may draw criticism. Critiques are useful anyway; they help us improve. You should be afraid if no one criticizes your work because that means they don’t care. I’m not talking about the idiots who just love to bring people down and talk shit. I’m talking about people who offer thoughtful advice and suggestions to help you improve your skills and thinking.

Heartfelt thanks goes out to all who have become a citizen of Design Democracy. I haven’t met all of you yet but I will. Please continue to share work, ideas, and anything else you wish. It’s an open community and there is no right or wrong.

If you would like to pick my brain about things, you can email me at designdemocracy [ dot ] ws [ at ] or just follow me on Twitter (@StandUP4Design).

Posted via email from Design Democracy

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