This is hot potato – a topic I may not have any right bringing up, yet it is a topic of conversation, gearing up for action, that we 100% need to have. As a white, British individual, I acknowledge the privileges I have been afforded. However, I also recognise the responsibility that comes with these privileges, particularly in the realm of design. This article aims to explore the concept of decolonising design, a topic that has recently gained traction in the design community. Yes, this blog post is a snapshot of a time and place, something to mark the flow of the tide against in years to come.

An abstract image of school gear on a gradient for a blog post about whether to learn web design or not

What is Decolonising Design?

Decolonising design is about challenging and deconstructing Anglocentric and Eurocentric thinking in design practice. It’s about acknowledging that Western society has been built upon the colonisation of other nations, and that we exist within a system of privilege and oppression. It’s about recognising that design today often perpetuates the status quo rather than disrupting it.

Decolonising design is not just about diversity, although diversity is a crucial part of it. Diversity is about bringing more people to the table, while decolonisation is about changing the way we think. It’s about acknowledging the colonised self that conforms to mainstream standards and the decolonised self that challenges these standards.

Why is Decolonising Design Important?

Decolonising design is important because it acknowledges the diverse experiences and perspectives that exist in the world. It challenges the idea that there is a single ‘correct’ way to design, and instead promotes a multiplicity of design approaches that reflect the diversity of human experience.

Decolonising design is also about justice. It’s about acknowledging the harm that has been done through colonisation and working towards a more equitable future. It’s about recognising that we are an extension of the land-metabolism that is the planet, not the other way around.

How Can We Decolonise Design?

Decolonising design is a complex process that involves both individual and collective action. As an individual, it involves introspection, examining unconscious biases, and understanding how they affect our perspectives on our culture and other cultures. It involves learning to be anti-racist and inclusive, which is a lifelong process.

As a collective, decolonising design involves changing the way we think about and practice design. It involves challenging the status quo and imagining something beyond the current system. It involves recognising and taking responsibility for harmful modern-colonial habits of being.

Decolonising design also involves making space for diverse voices and perspectives. This can be done through inclusive hiring practices, creating safe spaces for dialogue and debate, and actively seeking out and amplifying marginalised voices.

To Sum Up

Decolonising design is a journey, not a destination. It’s a process of continual learning, unlearning, and relearning. It’s about recognising our privileges, challenging our biases, and working towards a more inclusive and equitable design practice. As a white British designer, I am committed to this journey. I am committed to using my privilege to challenge the status quo and amplify marginalised voices. I am committed to decolonising design.

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