Design as Social Good

Creating a community of design individuals with a passion to help other artists that find solace in social good

Published

December 27, 2020

As artists and designers, we search for a network and an opportunity to build connections. While attending the Wix Playground Academy, we introduce design students to nonprofits that they collaborate with; we call it our Social Good Project to give back to our community while providing our designer's real-world opportunities. The approach to this project always comes with a big heart and high spirits. The designers benefit from working closely with a client that sees the world from a less commercial approach. It is essential to teach artists humility, perspective, and authenticity. Working with the nonprofits' online platform and brand visibility was necessary to spread the word about what they do. We worked with Art in Touch, a nonprofit that only just began during the height of the pandemic, delivering masks to those on the front-line as well as, Oh Hello Liver, an organization that raises awareness about liver disease. My role in working with the students became one of perspective, finding strength in the designers and in the nonprofits they were rooting for. I resonated with Art in Touch and Oh Hello Liver from the emotion they held in their branding - their hearts were in it, and it did not take much to have our heart in it too.


Art in Touch

When waves of uncertainty from Covid-19 began to rise, Echo He, director of Fou Gallery, decided it was time to take action. Through her initiative, Art in Touch, she and her team delivered masks to front-liners, protective gear to People of Color and other vulnerable communities for their gatherings to support BLM movements. They brought flowers bouquets to healthcare workers to brighten their day. But Art in Touch stretches beyond traditional social-good efforts. Along with many other artists during the pandemic, Art in Touch seeks to not only lend a hand but involve social good as a part of their artistic practice. The group of professionals who make up Art in Touch believes that, aside from immediate disaster relief, artists can bring compassion and solace to humankind during times like the Covid-19 pandemic. Their work brought to mind the philosophy of Dieter Rams, a German Industrial Designer, who spoke about design in conjunction with understanding people. He claimed that good design could not exist without social good, honesty, and innovation - three features present in the social solution these creative groups designed.


WIP: Students discussing initial drafts of Art in Touch website

Art in Touch initially recruited volunteers and donors through social media and word of mouth. However, to spread awareness for their cause, they needed a website that encompassed their values — it must be creative, impactful, express compassion, and spark community. They worked with a team of designers — Sejin Park, Allison Yick, Emily Zhao, and Lucie Bole — who brought their vision to life, creating a broader outreach site. To visually express human and artistic aspects, it was important for the design team to keep it focused on shared humanity, particularly in the face of this global crisis. Echo He and her team agreed that it was rewarding to work with designers to see their vision from another perspective and help their community grow by moving their efforts from social media to a professional and attention-grabbing website. With artists who innovate and have a passion for helping communities thrive, coming designers who want to uplift and involve social good in their practice.



Oh Hello Liver

Oh Hello Liver, co-founded by Cynthia Hellen and Ryan Alvarez, is an organization that began as a way for two people to document their experience with illness. It turned into a passion project for Cynthia when her fiancé, Ryan, passed from liver disease. She set out to raise awareness and provide emotional guidance for those going through a similar hardship. As a social entrepreneur and writer, Cynthia had a zeal to help others who were in pain. By teaming up with designers who saw value in lending a hand, designing for the community — Dieter Rams' words resonating through honesty and openness — Cynthia and her designers created a place for the pain to be understood. Trudy Hoang, So Jeong Shin, and Lucia Jang walked us through the site they created for Oh Hello Liver once it was complete in front of all our nonprofits and small businesses, past mentors, staff, and students. With tears streaming down her face, Cynthia expressed how well they captured her mission and how proud Ryan would have been with the outcome. She spoke more about her healing experience while we all listened closely; we heard her voice and felt her words even with miles between us all. An intimate moment for an online world that we adjusted to, understanding our humanity to be a driving force of art and design.



As artists, we understand our value and placement — how we can lend a hand while creating our neighbor's vision. During a troubling time like this pandemic, artists, more than ever, wanted to find ways to help their communities and bring design to the side of social good. As an artist, I understand that my impact is my voice — what and who I decide to represent are in my control. Bringing back the words of Dieter Rams, you cannot have good design without honesty, innovation, and, most importantly, without social good.

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