One look at the work of these extraordinary people shows that socially responsible design already has a long history:

TIBOR KALMAN (1949 – 1999)

Tibor Kalman coined the idea of a „designer as an author“. He challenged designers to think for themselves and encouraged anti-capitalist projects. He was also one of the signatories of the newly released “First things First manifest 2000″. Tibor’s work changed the designer’s perspective and their role in culture and society. For a decade he was a moral compass and agent provocateur like no other. In 1999, after Tibor Kalman’s early death, the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) wrote: “Of the two names that changed design in the ’80s and ’90s – Mac and Tibor – one changed the way we work, the other the way we think. The former is a tool, the latter was our conscience.”


 EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK TIBOR, Perverse Optimist: “fuck committees (I believe in lunatics)



It’s about the struggle between individuals with jagged passion in their work and today’s faceless corporate committees, which claim to understand the needs of the mass audience, and are removing the idiosyncrasies, polishing the jags, creating a thought-free, passion-free, cultural mush that will not be hated nor loved by anyone. By now, virtually all media, architecture, product and graphic design have been freed from ideas, individual passion, and have been relegated to a role of corporate servitude, carrying out corporate strategies and increasing stock prices. Creative people are now working for the bottom line. […] Find the cracks in the wall. There are a very few lunatic entrepreneurs who will understand that culture and design are not about fatter wallets, but about creating a future. They will understand that wealth is means, not an end. Under other circumstances they may have turned out to be like you, creative lunatics. Believe me, they’re there and when you find them, treat them well and use their money to change the world.”




»Wealth is a means, not an end.«


CV: Tibor Kalman was born in Budapest in 1949 and fled to America with his family in 1956. In 1968 he took a job as a display-window decorator with Barnes & Noble. In 1979 he founded the design studio M&Co., one of New York’s most famous studios for over 2 decades! In 1990 he took the editorial job for the editions 1-13 of the magazine COLORS, which caused furore the world over with the photos of Oliviero Toscani. In the book, “COLORS – the Kalman years” he is quoted as saying: “I’m not against beauty, it just sounds boring to me.”





VICTOR PAPANEK (1927 – 1999)

A visionary, Victor Papanek was already preaching in the 1960’s that the talent of designers should not be wasted on “things the world does not need”. Through their education and their differentiated perspective, designers have the potential to change the world.
His book “Miljöu och Miljonerna” or “Milieu (=environment) for millions” published in 1970 and the extended, American version “Design for the real world”, is a must-read for every designer! The book has been translated into 23 languages and is the most sold design book in history. The concerns voiced in the book are more relevant today then they ever were.


The book begins with the following sentences:
“There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few of them.” or this “… by creating whole species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath, designers have become a dangerous breed.”


1. Do you really need that thing, or did advertising persuade you that you would like to have it?
2. Can something else that you already own, serve the same purpose?
3. Can you share it with someone else, borrow or rent it?
4. Can you buy it second hand?


 »Designer must knock on doors, that have never been opened.«


CV: Papanek was born in Vienna and fled to the USA where he studied product-design and architecture.
He was a design-philosopher and an advocate of socially and environmentally sustainable design of products,
tools and infrastructure.







Fuller was one of the first to understand the functioning of nature as systemic functioning and used systemic forms of nature as (role-)models (Cradle-to-Cradle)
He asked questions about the meaning of human life and set down his thoughts in the “User Manual for Spaceship Earth”, in which he talked about the sustainable use of our spaceship earth. “Wir sind alle Astronaut. Wir leben in einem wunderschönen Raumschiff, genannt Erde.
He investigated and propagated the sustainable furtherance of our civilization through technical progress, so as to “avoid the cosmic bankruptcy of mankind”. He also showed how spontaneous cooperation could improve our lives (Collaborative consumption).
Due to his multiple talents and his unbroken interest in the nature of things, Fuller has been referred to as the “Leonardo da Vinci” of our time.


»The best way to predict the future is to design it.«


CV: The US architect, engineer, designer, philosopher and author, born in Massachusetts in 1895, was the founder of bio-morphic architecture. When he was 32 years old, his five-year-old daughter died from a lung infection and he went bankrupt. Close to suicide, he decided to view his life as an experiment. He wanted to find out, how a single person could contribute to changing the world for the better. He started a diary in which he recorded his life in 15-minute intervals. For 50 years.


© TIBOR: M. Nyytäjä for AIGA, © BUCKY: F. Blocher for the Kansas City Star, © VICTOR: R. Conran for Pantheon Books