As the dust settles on another demanding year, it’s time to take a look back at the stories that have left a mark on us in the world of design. On this blog, we’ve featured several dozen inspiring ideas, trends and thought-leaders in the past 12 months. Each one is a creative antidote to the chaos and crises of our time—from a primer on cultural appropriation, to a peek at the basketball court of our dreams. Picked by our readers and editors, these highlights are packed with lessons we can all take with us into the new year.
MOST-READ IN 2021
At the start of the year, we explored design’s loaded role in our current ‘take-make-waste’ economy. We took a long, hard look at how our industry has contributed to the ecological mess we’ve found ourselves in, by facilitating excessive consumerism. The good news is that design is also instrumental in shifting narratives and building a better future. Revisit this popular article to learn how creatives are already taking an active role in the transition to a more sustainable system.
In March, we got the chance to speak with Naresh Ramchandani: a prolific copywriter who left the advertising industry with an impressive array of awards, to build a career in “communications for the greater good”. Naresh highlights some important lessons on how “creativity can make us want to do things”. Drawing on his work as creative director of Ungifted and Do The Green Thing, Naresh shows how design is central to making it effortless not to waste. There are some fantastic tips to be found in this interview, a great way to set yourself up for 2022.
The annual Global Strike also took place in March this year. This was the 5th annual strike organised by Fridays for Future, first started by Greta Thunberg and other young activists. Having to adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, with public events in most places prohibited, WePresent commissioned a handful of talented illustrators to design posters that could help amplify the key urgency of this strike. In what became one of our most-read stories of the year, we shared some of our favourite visuals from the campaign.
Back in May, writer Anoushka Khandwala took time to reflect on the ideas discussed during ‘Urgent Conversations on Earth Day’, an event that we hosted in collaboration with If Not Us Then Who?, the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests. In this roundtable, creatives unpacked the differences between cultural appropriation and appreciation. They also explored how the global creative community can do better in the exchange of knowledge across cultures, as well as what new design practices can be adopted to create a greater balance of power.
Our second pick is the forecast we published with four exciting trends that are shaping circular design this year. It all started in January, when we launched the global No Waste Challenge together with the Ikea Foundation. After receiving an outstanding 1409 submissions, we sought to capture the urgent trends emerging in the field of circular design. This will give you both an insight into what issues creatives are currently trying to tackle and inspire you to design your own creative solutions!
The most fitting way to end our highlights of the last year, is a reminder of how influential design can be in shaping our environments. Through creativity and expression we can carve optimism and colour into the world around us. That’s exactly what artist Yinka Ilori reminds us of with his vibrant basketball court taking up space in London’s famous financial financial district, Canary Wharf.