According to the International Council of Design (ico-D), International Design Day was founded in 1995 by Kim Paulsen, who served as vice president of the organization from 1993 to 1995. The date also commemorated the launch of ico-D on April 27, 1963. It was originally called World Graphics Day, and after a few iterations, it became World Design Day in 2015 (and then International Design Day in 2022).
The ico-D states the mission of International Design Day is “to encourage designers to reflect deeply on the wellbeing of people within their local environments, and to find innovative solutions to local needs by using design as a vehicle to honor diversity, transcend borders, and improve quality of life.” In other words, International Design Day serves as a reminder to creators and their audiences that this field can make the world a better place.
Here are ways designers–and those who consume and appreciate their work–can celebrate International Design Day:
1. Take a creative retreat. From a literary tour of Edinburgh, Scotland, to visiting the art galleries of the Fort and Colaba districts in Mumbai, India, consider booking a trip to one of the most creative cities in the world. Appreciate the vibrant arts scene, the architecture, fashion, cuisine, and youth culture that fuel the local arts. You need not hop on an airplane to take an artsy trip, and it need not be a luxurious getaway. Consider taking a road trip to a nearby bucolic town, a new emerging city, or even a lovely cafe with a view, to get your creative juices flowing.
2. Read about design. The ico-D conveniently put together a list of essays and books that not only honor the history and tenets of design, but design as a profession. The reading list includes articles and think-pieces about the practice of design, as well as tangential topics to show how design affects everything we do. The organization also encourages all pros to read its code of conduct, which addresses everything from sustainability, inclusivity, and even data privacy. One critical rule, for example, calls for designers to “uphold basic human dignity by considering the respectful portrayal of all people, i.e. gender identities, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, awareness of body image issues, etc.”
3. Gather with other designers. Sometimes looking outward is more effective than looking inward. Networking and connecting with other designers, learning about their creative processes and how they translate their passion for design into a source for livelihood could be what you need to elevate your career. According to the ico-D, “Marking the anniversary of ico-D’s establishment on 27 April 1963, participants worldwide are invited to gather, innovate, and live out a moment of design by organizing public events and initiatives on 27 April of each year.”
Interested in getting together with other designers but don’t know where to start? You can always start with LinkedIn, or if you’re part of a design organization, check out their member directory. Or, you can take a non-traditional approach by checking out websites like womenwho.design, which is a directory of accomplished women in the design industry, or arisingtide.design, who has an active directory of API designers working in architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and urban design.
4. Celebrate on social media. Scout social media for emerging artists and designers from underrepresented groups and give them your support, be it with a simple follow, like, or purchase. Sport jewelry or clothing from a cutting-edge label and tag them in a post. Call out a small business or startup with a spectacular logo or storefront and let them know you’re a fan of their exceptional branding. There are endless and easy ways to support designers from various industries on #WorldDesignDay or #InternationalDesignDay.
Follow International Design Day on Facebook here, or on Instagram here.
5. Launch, spruce up, and share your portfolio. International Design Day is a great excuse to revisit the work you’re most proud of, and perhaps finally launch or revamp your online portfolio. Whether you’re an established freelancer, a creative agency, or a design-driven brand, one way to stand out is to opt for a .design domain and e-mail address to communicate your dedication to premium design.
6. Celebrate design in other categories. Designers and artists often run into creative blocks out of fear of not being original enough. One way to draw inspiration from non-competitors is to look to other categories for new trends. Be it decor, artwork, landscaping, automobiles—draw from various sources all around you, and make it your own.
7. Visit a museum and take time to appreciate the public arts. Whether you visit a behemoth like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a natural history museum, or even a historic home in your region, let history influence your future designs. You can also take a few cues from the best contemporary works by visiting a modern art museum or gallery, or even tour a local arts district to appreciate some street art.
8. Encourage kids to participate! Nothing can inspire your work more than teaching future generations the principles of design. Team up with a local school, youth nonprofit, or community center and host a workshop to encourage children to participate in International Design Day. Who knows, working alongside these mini-artists in the making might spark your next creative wave!