Design critics have been debating about the meaning and role of Design since its inception to education and popular culture. It seems that with every generation of theorists, writers, critics and educators, a new wave of concerns and doubts arise with an extra dosage of sensitivity to social, economical, political, and environmental challenges. The 1970’s marked the first series of design manifestos, acting as a guide for designers to work with a clear conscience and not submit to corporate or political dangers. Over the years, the consequences of such propaganda led to the birth of new disciplines such as critical design, design for social impact, design activism, social design, and humanitarian design amongst a variety of equally ambiguous terminology where the difference between them and the actual impact it brought to the world became increasingly more obscure.
Soon enough, the seemingly heroic actions of many designers failed and new critics were eager to point fingers and blame the American and European Designers for thinking they can save the poor third world countries (one laptop per child, project H’s Hippo Roller …etc.). Although their intentions were good, there was still a lot to learn. Nowadays, the era of Design-Saving-the-World has come full circle and is being embraced with new principles, that are not as blinded by Designers’ need to desperately prove their capabilities beyond the realm of aesthetics. One particular set of guidelines is from Prof. Anthony Dunne, who is currently head of the Design Interactions program at the Royal College of Art in London. He makes a very poignant comparison between Old and New Design as follows: