A Question of Ethics

What are my personal values as a designer? Who am I designing for? How will my designs reflect my own values?

These are all quite daunting questions, but considering them now will of course help shape my work today as well as in the future. During lectures, I have gravitated towards taking notes, whilst on the adjacent page, I mind map how this then relates back to my own thoughts and design work.

OMI Jewels

I consider my time working in the auction world, adhering to import/export law and CITES regulations, encompassing current topics such as ivory and fur.  I think to my upbringing – The foundation of my ethics, morals and values.  My childhood was liberal, both my parents worked in politically-winded public service jobs. I was free to explore, make mistakes and encouraged to be individual and independent. There were never really any expectations, other than to be happy.

When I was young, my parents grew and harvested as much of their own produce as they could. And my mind wanders to food, I love cooking and run a local supper club. Although I try, If I am honest it’s not always possible to buy organic, fair trade, free range, locally-sourced produce. But I expect the labelling to be transparent, I always look for traceability. In a wider context, my ethos is to perhaps buy less but better quality – I apply this to food, clothes, shoes, furniture, etc. So, how do I align this with my own work?

If I first consider vitreous enamel, I have sourced a lead-free enamel from a local manufacturer and supplier, when handling I have adhered to all the health and safety. But have I really thought about the energy that is required to power the kilns? I then look at the mild steel I have been using, I have an understanding of fair trade silver and gold, but I should also be applying this to base-metals. I am considering using found materials in my work, I need to recognise that the material may be sensitive, and in a digital world the footprint is much bigger and of course has longevity. I next turn to the interviews I have been conducting, asking individuals about their sentimental jewellery – I have responsibilities to adhere to data protection. The key point here is I need to act responsibly throughout the design process.

I have also started to contemplate the potential waste I could create, and recall Zoe Robertson’s RE:Animate necklace, made from salvaged granulated polymer.

robertson-z-2

There is a huge amount to scrutinise to ensure ethical considerations are embedded throughout my working processes – From design to realisation and beyond. My starting point is to establish a sustainable framework to support a consistent code of ethics throughout my work and a mode of recording this.

 

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