MIT Institute of Design

Design As a Global Profession

Internationally the 1980's and 90's saw design being perceived and accepted as a process that may be employed to resolve specific problems of not only production and marketing but also the human environment in general. By the end of the 20th century design has become a truly global activity. Today one almost feels that the core of design activity is straddling two seemingly opposite poles. On the one hand, design should remain a true heir to the global design movement in, the best sense of the word. On the other, it must hold out an equally powerful potential to assist each community and culture to know, experience and express its own identity. This contradiction is in fact only superfluous. It disappears when one learns that the process of solving a design problem cannot even begin unless one has a thorough understanding of the needs of the ultimate user or user group. Not just material needs but equally important, psychological, socio cultural and symbolic needs.

In this first decade of the 21st century design is again poised for a change in its image and complexion. Some say that designers way of thinking will play an important role in influencing the attitudes of leaders and opinion makers not just in design related fields but in other walks of life too. One thing is certain; whatever the nature of the change, it will overwhelmingly depend on how design thinking can affect the lives of those in our country who are still deprived of basic amenities that are essential to make what we call "living with human dignity" possible.