Design is an extension of who we are as we represent ourselves to the exterior world. It is important for designers to understand the significant role that design plays in creating identities that both appeal to and meet the needs of the general public. In this way, design becomes a service directed towards meeting the real aspirations of people.
This point was never more obvious to me than when I was working in Uganda this past summer for UNICEF. I was in the unique position of having studied and lived in Uganda for 7 years of my youth. Then, as a graduate student, I found myself back in Kampala, Uganda in the summer of 2014 looking at design through the lens of a graphic designer. I noticed numerous opportunities where designers could positively influence business growth and development.
In particular, I was interested in how design could be used to enhance profitability and social impact. When people interact with well–designed products and services, the experience sensitizes them towards the value of excellent design. From my research, I discovered that a unique Ugandan identity of creative expression is gradually emerging that appeals to both global and local markets.
This led me to the key question of my thesis: “How can I use design to augment experience, enable access, and gracefully reflect the core values and mission of a company or an institution?” Even though I understood aspects of the Ugandan culture, I still needed to research the process of design in Uganda and how Ugandans view design. I researched the culture, economy, and a number of companies including their potential to meet customer values and needs.