Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, president of WDO – World Design Organization, explains the institution’s new cycle.



Photo by Rachel Côté

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design has changed its name to World Design Organization. What were the reasons that lead to this decision?

The new name—along with a renewed vision and mission—reflects the organization’s desire to be more inclusive and collaborative, echoing the evolution and interdisciplinary nature of the practice of industrial design in today’s solution economy.

Who were the authors of the new corporate identity and how was the whole process developed until the final choice?

The new brand identity was carefully developed in 2016 by the Montreal-based Feed – an independent graphic design studio specialized in branding, publishing, and typeface design. In close collaboration with the WDO team, Feed conducted a brand audit to ensure the new identity was perfectly aligned with WDO’s new vision and mission as the world body for industrial design and that it reflected the evolution of the industrial design profession over the last 60 years. Conspicuously missing is the word “industrial.” It has been replaced by a stroke to symbolize the increasing number of disciplines industrial designers call upon to address complex issues, and their efforts to move beyond the simple design of products to ensure a better quality of life for people everywhere through more thoughtful and human-centred design.

This new cycle is meant to achieve what sorts of results?

As the World Design Organization, we seek to leverage our extensive network of like-minded designers from all regions around the world to re-position industrial design as a catalyst for positive change. Our members share a common vision of design’s ability to improve quality of life, and we recognize that the challenges of 21st century living can no longer be ignored. As the voice of industrial design, we have an opportunity to take action on the issues that matter at a global level.

Can you reveal the main goals for the upcoming years?

Through our international programming, we aim to promote more sustainable consumption and production and to advocate design-led innovation that will contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The SDGs are a universal set of 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by UN member countries as a 15-year roadmap to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges, such as poverty, hunger, access to education, migration, climate change and inequality. As the World Design Organization with UN consultative status, the SDGs are a framework against which we can align our work, set new objectives and report on our progress.

What kinds of strategies are going to be developed?

Our objective is to grow our community in all parts of the world and activate them through our international programming, namely World Design Capital®, World Design Talks, World Design Impact Prize, and World Industrial Design Day. Together, we seek to advocate industrial design-driven innovation for a better world. We seek to ultimately leverage our UN consultative status to raise awareness of the power of design in helping to achieve the SDGs whilst cognisant of the prevailing global mega trends such as that focusing on the socio-economic, ecological and geopolitical implications of climate change and that of population ageing

How do you evaluate the current position of designers and design policies worldwide concerning education, employment, working conditions and new business opportunities?

Now more than ever, designers are aware of the impact certain design choices have had on the environment and society in the past, and are eager to be part of the solution. They are emphasizing sustainability, inclusiveness and collaboration across disciplines to reinvent our collective future. In today’s solution economy, there is an important business opportunity for today’s designers and design-led innovation. However, there is need for targeted design advocacy to help raise awareness in the workplace and in society of the crucial role design plays in improving economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life for all.

Designers worldwide form a community that is something to be considered at different levels, either socially, economically or culturally. Why is it still so hard for these professionals to get recognized for their qualifications and specializations?

As an educator, I am keenly conscious of this fact… Indeed it is difficult for the vast number of young designers to gain recognition for what they do and the value of design is not always fully understood in the typical workplace. Young designers have an uphill battle trying to get their designs the attention they deserve. They have a desire to change the world but find it difficult to fit their ideas into today’s social structures. They are looking for ways to collaborate to create change. The WDO will work hard to shine a bright light on the important work being done by this young, socially attuned, energetic and enthusiastic cohort around the world and to make the critical link between good design (its focus on the end-users and the environment in which they live) and good business. After all as the African proverb aptly states: “[s]he who climbs a good tree gets a push” – the WDO is committed to supporting the passions and aspirations of young designers worldwide in their quest to grow their careers and make a lasting social impact…


The new logo of the World Design Organization was developed in 2016 by FEED, a Montreal-based graphic design studio, along with WDO team.