Designing For Good: A Designer’s Hippocratic Oath

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The Designer’s Oath brings together designers from disparate disciplines and backgrounds to create collaborative Oaths that speak across design practices and organizations. The traditional boundaries of design are quickly expanding, and our code of ethics needs to be as flexible and easy to redefine as the process of design itself. The Designer’s Oath must become a tool that is applied to the process of design to ensure that the end result does good.

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1. I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant: I will respect the hard-won knowledge of the human condition of those designers in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such empathetic decisions as are mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the people, all measures that are ecocentric and holistic avoiding those twin traps of behavioral manipulation and pure profitability.


Jake Wells, Donovan Preddy, Brian Peppler
Empathy Lab


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2. I will remember that the best design sprouts from the user’s understanding of their own needs, not the designer’s dreams, assumptions, or aesthetic preferences. I will endeavor to uncover the true problem my clients are aiming to address.

I will not hesitate to say “this is not a problem design alone can solve,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed to deliver quality solutions.

Georgia Guthrie

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Most especially must I tread with care in matters of fashion vs. innovation. If it is given to me to better a life, all thanks.

But it may also be within my power to adapt a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.



Ciara Taylor and Samantha Dempsey are experience designers at mad*pow.

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