Designers-Thinkers and the Conscience of Design

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The tension between artistic expression, the ideal product, and the inevitable compromising that is required through mass production has been powerfully verbalised and illustrated by two world famous designers from geographically distant design cultures: Kaj Franck (1911–1989) and Enzo Mari (1932–2020). Both designers speak about design priorities and essential functional forms with a purpose. Both 'moralist designers' have been named ’the conscience of design’ by their colleagues for their critical voices on design practice expressed towards a professional environment, which had become too superficial. What does conscience mean in design cultures today? Is a superb moral backbone sign of a ’design inquisitor’ as Alessandro Mendini wrote on his Domus editorial “Dear Enzo Mari” 40 years ago, when he defined him as the conscience of the professional community?
This study on two critical ’thinking designers’ (considered important for their moral messages on design ethics, a responsible way of working and communicating in design) is a part of a comparative study on design approaches in two different design cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Culture(s): Cumulus Conference Proceedings Roma 2021
EditorsLoredana Di Lucchio , Lorenzo Imbesi, Angela Giambattista, Viktor Malakuczi
Place of PublicationRome, Italy
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 978-952-64-9004-5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventCumulus Conference: Design Culture(s) - Rome, Italy
Duration: 8 Jun 202111 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameCumulus Conference Proceedings Series
PublisherCumulus the Global Association of Art and Design Education and Research. Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture
ISSN (Print)2490-046X
ISSN (Electronic)2490-046X


ConferenceCumulus Conference
Internet address


  • design philosophies
  • thinking designers
  • design approach
  • design principles
  • design ethics

Field of art

  • Design


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