Tokens of kindness: explorations in design as a bridge for societal gaps
Graphic design has long been considered a profession for people interested in creating glossy magazines, posters, and other ephemera. Can graphic design do more for society? Through analysis of social design, wicked problems, and gift economies, this study aims to begin to understand graphic design as a method to bridge societal gaps. This study uses principles of social design, behavior change theory, and immersive community research to experiment within the local communities of Ames and Des Moines, Iowa. Several experimental methods are explored, such as the use of design to create pockets of kind acts through a pseudo-gift economy, and pop-up booths that attempt to engage the community in a discussion about frank issues through the gifting of food. Although this study starts to uncover valuable information about the aforementioned techniques, more research is needed to refine these methods for use in the professional sector.