Designing to Live:
The Value of Inclusive Design in the Future Society
Prof. Ricardo Gomes, IDSA
How do designers work with communities, respond to constraints, and maximize ownership by users and other stakeholders? Designers promote exemplary projects with an emphasis on participatory design, universal design and social responsibility.
Design expresses the economic, social, political and cultural complexion of our society. It renders an image of the conditions of our society and the communities that directly profit, or are contingent to its benefits. In this sense, it communicates a vast amount about the priorities and values of our society. Nigel Whitley’s Design for Society (1993) critically asserts this observation in an attempt to establish a foundation for a more socially-responsive development of design. 
the principal role of the designer was to increase the sales and profitability
of a product. However, in today’s society there is
a paramount need to broaden the awareness of the designer with respect to the
economic livelihood and sustainability, of urban inner-city communities in
America as well as emerging nations.
I believe the physical features and aspects of inclusive design are improving the quality of life. Well-being is only the beginning: Infrastructure and facilities programming offer opportunities for earning income which, in turn, enhance the general economic health of a community. But, the most important element for success is commitment by all, resulting in a true sense of partnership. The benefits are that people obtain an improved, healthy and secure living environment without being displaced. Experience has shown that urban upgrading projects are associated with strong social and economic benefits.
My-point-of-view affirms what the renowned economist-philosopher and author of Small is Beautiful--E.F. Schumacher--believed when he called for a reassessment of the role and status of design in society. Schumacher states: “What is at stake is not economics, but culture; not the standard of living, but the quality of life” (Shumacher in Eliahoo, March 1984, Designer Ethics in Creative Review, 44
The physical features and
aspects of inclusive design in improving the quality of life and well being is
only the beginning:
Infrastructure and facilities programming are offered to increase income earning opportunities and the general economic health of a community.
The most important element for success is commitment by all: the city, the community, and the families. A sense of partnership must be developed among them. Secondly inclusive design must meet a real need - people must want it and understand the value.
Implementation will require getting the institutional arrangements right:
> give incentives for agencies to work with the poor,
> keep everyone informed and coordinate between
> define clearly the roles of the various agencies.
> keep upgrading going, sustainability concerns must
be a priority in financing, institutions, and regulations.
The benefits are simply that people obtain an improved, healthy and secure living environment without being displaced.
Recognizing title and security of tenure makes a positive contribution to both the economic prospects of the poor, as well as to the national economy. Experience has shown that urban upgrading projects are associated with social and economic benefits that are particularly high.
Designers must enhance their value and broaden their influence in our society. This may be achieved if we are able to meet the challenge to find ways to mobilize the necessary resources to promote the creation of job skills training, mentoring, and capital recycling in low-income communities. This effort could be further facilitated by conducting a workshop/symposium that addresses this issue. The workshop/symposium could be sponsored by industry and local design offices. Additional professional design and business organizations, such as IDSA could endorse the idea, and act as an executive advisory board for the planning and development of such an event.
Decisions are Based on Universal + Sustainable Criteria
Over thirty years ago the artist Richard Hamilton wrote a book entitled, Popular Culture and Personal Responsibility in which he defined an ideal culture as, “one in which awareness of its condition is universal” (Popular Culture and Personal Responsibility, 1982/1960, n.p.).
design can be achieved by focusing the
efforts of designers to develop products and environments that will be more
inclusive--as opposed to preferential--in enhancing and facilitating the areas
of urban community
development. Basic universal design principles advocate designs that can benefit the widest range of users in areas such as public health, recreation, housing, skill building, education, and business development schemes.
The late Selby Mvusi, a prolific Black South African industrial designer wrote in 1963:
“The truly excellent designed object is not the object that is rare or expensive....This rightness of form and function before and after the object is made is both individual and social. It is in this sense of that society and culture intrinsic elements of design.
We do not therefore design for society or for that matter design in order to design society. We design because society and ourselves are in fact design.”
“We do not design for living.
We design to live.” 
How do designers work with communities, respond to constraints, and maximize ownership by users and other stakeholders?
Promote exemplary projects with an emphasis on participatory design, universal design, and social responsibility.
Find ways to mobilize the resources to promote the creation of job skills training, mentoring, and capital recycling in low-income communities. Designers can influence change and redefine the priorities and values of our society through such indirect methods.
workshops and symposia that address these issues...ones that are ideally sponsored
by local industry and design offices. Additional professional design and
business organizations could endorse the idea and act as an executive advisory
board for the planning and development of such an event.
 Nigel Whitely, Design for Society, Reaktion Books, London 1993, p. 158
 Rebecca Eliahoo, Designer Ethics, Creative Review (March 1984), p.44
 Richard Hamilton, Popular Culture and Personal Responsibility (1960) in Collected Words (London, 1982)
 Selby Mvusi, Design for Developing Countries: selected readings, 1963, South Africa, reprinted, Dr. Nathan Shapira, University of California, Los Angeles, 1991