Part of the
Design United
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Design United


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Even responsible designers are only human
Geke Ludden - University of Twente
About author
Crisis!Editions 2020

Designers can’t help themselves. We are wired to immediately respond to challenges we see. And we love to think that we can apply our skills and our ‘designerly’ ways of thinking (and doing!) to just about anything and everything. The projects in the Crisis! theme show just this; designers acting on the immediate and upcoming challenges they see this crisis brings. 

Among the results of these immediate actions are scuba masks turned into ventilators, more sustainable facemasks, a dashboard that aims to support people in social distancing (which was fully developed within 1.5 weeks!) and a new communication system that allows people to meet while physically distancing. The claims that come with these results are large: “…this adapter saves the lives of many COVID patients”,  “…this could be the future of online communication”, “…this design iterated from a response to an urgent crisis to a long-term sustainable solution”. Looking at these projects and their claims one might conclude that we finally succeeded in educating the socially responsible designers that the field has been dreaming of for many years. But I am not so sure. 

“After all, even designers are only human.”
Geke Ludden

My students in our master’s course on ‘Design and Behaviour Change’ showed a similar action-oriented response after we moved our course online just before summer. They all wanted to work on a behaviour change challenge related to the pandemic and lockdown situation we were in. They clearly felt the need to contribute and to think of solutions for the multitude of problems they saw this crisis immediately brought and would bring in the future. They felt the need to take control and to change that future… to change THEIR future. Urged to do so by the ever more pressing issues that our world is facing. Are these then the socially responsible designers of our dreams or just young people who are striving for the best future they could have? Personally, I think they are a bit of both. After all, even designers are only human.

Related projects
All projects