Cover: Johnathon Strebly, ico-D President, in Shanghai

Message from the ico-D President

If there is anything I’ve learned over the last three decades of being involved in design advocacy, is that nothing can be done on your own.

As Canada’s only national professional design organization, GDC has done a wonderful job of making our nation’s design community aware of issues and opportunities. The way we do this is to stay aware as to what is happening in the design world around us. The International Council of Design (ico-D) has given our members this window into the world, to better understand design and its impact on our communities.

If we are to be socially conscious and contribute to the cultural and economic well-being of our communities, we must both participate in and listen to what is happening in the world around us.

It has been a busy two years learning and contributing as President-Elect of the International Council of Design. Since becoming President just last month, I have already had the honour of presenting our organization in Kochi, India, and most recently in China at the Shanghai 10x10 Global Summit.

With Pradyumna Vyas, Päivi Tahkokallio, Freeman Lau, Srini R Srinivasan and Chi-yi Chang in Shanghai, China.
With Pradyumna Vyas, Päivi Tahkokallio, Freeman Lau, Srini R Srinivasan and Chi-yi Chang in Shanghai, China.

Two days of presentations and dialogue with colleagues from nine other international and national design organizations provided opportunities for sharing values and celebrating our differences as we all work towards positive and stronger design impact for our communities within our global village.

A humbling surprise at the event was being presented with a Letter of Appointment as a Distinguished Professor of the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts by Executive Dean, Wang Dawei.

The future is uncertain as this year begins in a precarious balance, and as creatives and designers, we have the accountability and obligation to do better for our world. I look forward to more opportunities for dialogue, and more importantly, actions from our international community.

We must define what it means to be a design professional, articulate our obligations and responsibilities, and further develop our ethical cannon and professional standards of conduct. As influential as we are in creating modern messages, products, spaces and services, so are we complicit in the negative impacts of modern consumption.
A robust ethical design culture is required, for the benefit of our communities and to enable design to achieve its potential to improve the quality of life for all.

ico-D believes that it has come time to change the relationship between producers, designers and end-users. Instead of being the servants of producers, we believe that designers better serve by being the ambassadors of the end-users, using their capacities to better respect long-term needs, cultural heritage, and the environment.

You are the ones to set the tone for the future of design, we cannot wait for someone else to do the work. Keep your journey in design focused on ensuring our world is a better place to live.

GDC is a member of ico-D, the International Council of Design, a world organisation for design professionals. Johnathan Strebly, GDC national Past-President, was elected ico-D President in December. He is the fourth President from GDC to serve in this important role. Previous ico-D Presidents include Walter Jungkind, Jorge Frascara, and Robert L. Peters.

More About ico-D
ico-D is a non-governmental international voice for design. It is a non-profit, non-partisan, member-based network that leads creatively by facilitating dialogue between design platforms including professional, educational and promotional categories.

Its vision and core values are manifested through ico-D initiatives carried out in collaboration with Members, who makeup an expert, multidisciplinary network of organizations, designers and stakeholders.

Members of ico-D have current perspective on contemporary contexts, and an eye for collaboration across disciplines and with diverse global and local communities. As an interface between the community of professional designers and the wider public, ico-D promotes design excellence, and upholds the importance of design as a key medium for social change.