A case for humanism in the digital age

April 2017

We live in an exciting era of unprecedented technological and scientific revolutions: augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, nanobiology, nanotechnology…. and it seems that sometimes we’re veering towards an all-encompassing love and trust of technology, and further away from humanism. Humanism, as in believing in the value of human beings and thinking about how to develop their qualities and improve their condition.

But on a smaller scale, and from a designer’s perspective, what really changed recently (since the mid 1990s really) is how computers, mobile devices and the Internet have made visual content king, facilitated the processes of creation, and has generated vocations in design in exceptional numbers. It’s now easy to create beautiful images and graphic work, without the painstaking process of designing with a pencil, a Rotring and a “French curve”, and refining the drawing of a letter with a scalpel on tracing paper (yes, this was still happening in the 90s).

Today’s revolutions hold many promises and point to an exciting future full of possibilities. We just think we need to keep human beings at the center of these revolutions. We believe that more and more, we’ll see that humanity needs design, but design needs humanism.

Humanism, as putting human interactions at the center of creation:

We believe real relationships between people have created the best work in the world: relationships between designers and decision makers based on mutual respect and a truly open mind to imagine great ideas and make them possible, relationships between mentors and mentees, of mutual enrichment between the young dreamers and the experienced masters of their craft, relationships between designers that inspire and create a healthy competition, an emulation that pushes everyone beyond their best limits.

Humanism, as a reference to Humanities – the study of Literature, History and the Arts

We believe that design needs to be nourished by a ground of culture upon which you create brand identities, brand content, or just brands that are meaningful and have character, depth and singularity.

One of the reason why Steve Jobs created a company like no other, is that he believed design should have a human touch: “the reason that Apple is able to create [great products] is because we’ve always tried to be at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts.” Today’s and tomorrow’s designers should strive towards this ideal of the polymath or the man of universal knowledge, the ideal Renaissance or Enlightenment man, men like Leonardo Da Vinci or…Isaac Newton who appeared in the very first Apple logo!

Humanism, as a belief that the human hand (with awesome technology at its service) can create designs that will be more long-lasting, touching and memorable than any algorithm ever could.

I kid you not – logo generators exist.

We can talk for hours about the excitement and promises that holds this scientific and technological progress we’re witnessing, we just think a little more humanity in design, in consumer-facing industries, is absolutely crucial to make your brands intelligent, cultured and inspiring. And this doesn’t come from a formula.