Serving the Under Served


The access to design is “not just a privilege – it is a public right.”

Public interest design can be defined in a few different ways, including:

  • Community design
  • Serving the under served
  • Design for the broader public good

The definition I am most drawn to is “serving the under served.” When it comes to design services, we all know it comes with a price tag (most of the time), and there is a lot of people in the world today that cannot afford this price tag. Just because they cannot afford it does not mean they do not deserve it. If they deserve something, but cannot afford it, how can this be solved?

Public Interest Design is the answer. Public interest practices and designers understand the societal injustices like homelessness, and housing affordability, along with the social, economic, and environmental conditions of where they are working.

“All people deserve design quality that is equal to those who pay for their services.”

In the design community, I believe there are two types of designers:

  1. Those who design for the money.
  2. Those who design because they want to make a difference.

Yes, some people can be both, but these two types of designers have a very different way of thinking. It is the 2nd type of designers in which we see engaging in PID projects. There are so many different ways in which firms across the globe take on PID projects, some for-profit firms with pro bono initiatives and even some non-profit firms have ways, so using the excuse of “I can’t afford to design for no pay” is bogus.

If you are truly passionate about architecture and design, then Public Interest Design should catch your eye. If you are passionate about architecture and design, your motivation is driven by making a difference in the community/world rather than the paycheck that follows. Designing for the under served is one way you can use your skills to make a huge difference.

It is our responsibility as humans to serve one another, and to serve those especially who cannot afford it. So lets all use our talents and abilities to improve our world and communities.

Featured Image: Puyallup Longhouse

More cool PID projects


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