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Design Can: A Manifesto for Disrupting the Status Quo

The Design CAN manifesto questions how the design industry can remain relevant when it fails to reflect the community it serves. It asks designers and stakeholders to confront their prejudices and eliminate discrimination – racial, gender, and disability. The Design CAN website is part manifesto, part resource list, and part checklist for those wanting to join the #DesignCan campaign. The combination makes for a compelling challenge to the design community, and a helpful tool for designers taking up that challenge.

Design CAN was launched in the United Kingdom in August 2019, and has a steering committee headed by Priya Khanchandani, editor of Icon Magazine, and Sarah Mann of the UK Design Council. While the platform originated in the UK, it has relevance for designers globally. Although their listed events are in the UK, the resource list of podcasts, articles, and videos is sourced internationally. Since the website solicits the resource submissions, new resources are constantly added.

The checklist, labeled “You Can”, lists 10 “practical tips” for steps designers can take to work towards diversifying design. This isn’t a checklist of simplistic platitudes; the first tip on the list is “recognize your privilege.” The list goes on to ask designers to make some hard choices, such as standing aside when someone from an underrepresented background might be a better choice for a certain project.