I guess the real question is, "Can design touch someone's heart?" This is the question Stefan Sagmeister asks his design students, and they believe it can. In this article written by Carolyn Sienicki for CommArts, she addresses the design issues seen by Sagmeister and includes some of her own ideas.
She quotes Sagmeister: "It's a pity that the majority of what we do is promote or sell products for clients. I have nothing against selling. I do it too. But I also think design can do so much more. It can inform, delight, provoke, support and simplify someone's life…So much of what designers do is technically very good, but it leaves people cold and has little meaning in their lives…most designers don't believe in anything." She sides with him in "attempting to bring a sense of humanity back to design and remind us of our individual power as designers." We are the ones who can make or break a product and how well it serves humanity. We are the beginning of the process. We should be the ones determining whether the product is healthy for humanity and the environment and if not, we need to find alternative choices that serve as they should.
Sienicki, referring to design students, writes that we must "first identify [our] passions, then look outside the school to identify unmet problems—from small-scale to large, from day-to-day to long-term—and create solutions that combine their passions with their design skills…It is a way for designers to work proactively, to contribute more of their creative thinking, and to get more satisfaction out of how they make their living. When students (and professionals) identify something they care about, they are more passionate about it. When one's personal interest, strength and passion come into play, the design solution is stronger because the designer has more conviction. Both the conviction and the design come from the heart." Design with a purpose is our call to action. If we design just to pay the bills, we'll keep having outrageous bills because our designs only serve the market, not humanity and/or nature. We have to learn from our past mistakes—the mistakes of the designers before us—building our inspirations from theirs, and with work, perseverance and intention, we can begin to design in such a way that design touches someone's heart everywhere.