Over the last few years, we have gradually entered a period of social unrest here in the United States. For the first time in my generation, we are seeing protests fill the streets of major cities across the nation; watching nervously as tensions rise amongst nationalities, religious groups, and political parties, and becoming increasingly more concerned as many powerful countries appear to be on the brink of war. Many people sit at home terrified, feeling as though their basic rights and freedoms are in jeopardy under the current tumultuous circumstances. In times such as these, it is the ideas of hope, unity and social empathy are essential to maintaining a functional society. As these issues continue to develop around me, I began to question my role and responsibilities as a designer in the efforts to battle the growing social injustice. I began my early research on the social implications of design and found that according to the US Census report from 2015, over 62% of the United States population live in a major city, and according to a report produced by the United Nations, over 60% of the people on the entire planet are projected to live in urban areas by the year 2030. Knowing these statistics, we can no longer claim to live in a world shaped primarily by nature, but instead in a designed and constructed environment shaped by human beings. In considering this fact, it became increasingly apparent that designers have tremendous influence over the physical and social progress of our world. But design runs deeper than just physical products in our culture, extending to every service and experience we encounter throughout the day. Conversely, although everything in our world has in some way been designed, not everything has been designed well. With this thesis I will address the social implications of interior design and the extents to which the social issues of equality and accessibility are currently being addressed through design. I will introduce the topics of inclusive design and social responsibility as they relate to the profession of interior design, and begin to question how our current module of education seeks to support these ideas of social progress in regard to the growing profession. This thesis will also serve as a reflection on my recent application of this research in an attempt to influence the designers and discipline around me.
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