The ways in which the practice of design intersects with that of wellbeing are as unique as each discipline. The concept of wellbeing is not simply a spiritual or esoteric practice. It is a very real and rigorous ideal for finding balance, health and stability in one’s life and creative practice. Following this logic, wellbeing is as much a practice of the mind as it is for life. When we see it as a through-line in creative practice, it offers a way to integrate and balance the relationship between one’s business, culture and community.
There are many incredible creative organisations and individuals whose practices offer excellent examples of what can happen when the concepts of wellbeing meet creativity and design. The creative professionals we would like to introduce you to are all working with and for their communities from the desire to move towards a paradigm shift. Read on to learn a little more about the variety and depth of practice that occurs when great design joins forces with the culturally stimulating concept of wellbeing.
Originally published in the Shillington Post 09—The Wellbeing Issue.
Naj Austin is the founder and CEO of Somewhere Good and Ethel’s Club, two social enterprises centring people of colour through a focus on art, community and culture. Ethel’s Club is an online and in person social and wellness club, with the brand ethos of “For Us, By Us”.
The organisation’s work focuses on celebrating and bringing together POC through events, workshops and social initiatives. To continue this cultural renaissance with people of colour at the forefront, Naj developed and launched Somewhere Good—an alternative social media platform specifically for championing the work of black and brown creatives.
Finding balance in your workday as a designer can often feel like a juggling act of competing priorities and that’s where Andy Wright, one of Australia’s design heavyweights, comes in. He’s been making waves with three unique projects that focus on wellbeing.
Streamtime is a project management software which encourages healthier creative businesses. The program can cater and adapt to the particular user, offering a fully integrated platform to manage all your business needs.
Never Not Creative is a community organisation and podcast that focuses on the subject of wellbeing. With a focus on foregrounding community and conversation, NNC works to improve the wellbeing of everyone working in the creative industries.
Last in this mighty trifecta, Mentally Healthy is a biennial industry survey investigating changes within the design industry, with a focus on mental health. Following the initial 2018 findings, Never Not Creative and UnLtd joined forces to launch the Mentally Healthy Change Group, working to approach and overcome mental health issues in the design industry.
Need help defeating procrastination and becoming a veritable Jedi master of productivity? We all know a little accountability goes a long way and Side Project Sessions steps up to the plate every time. The methodology is the brainchild of Madeleine Dore and aims to help people carve out space and time for those projects, big or small, that they have been putting off. Initially started as an events series, SPS has adapted into a shared methodology, assisting people to make the time and commit to their projects.
Not satisfied to stop there, Madeleine produces several podcasts set to switch up your mindset by connecting you with how other creatives are finding their way through the minefield of everyday creative practice. In the Routines and Ruts podcast, she interviews creatives about the ups and downs of living a creative life, normalising the experiences and offering a touchstone for anyone who might need some relatable content.
Centring human-centred design, Theo + Theo is a future-focused brand innovation and design studio supporting organisations to develop innovative products and services for a positive social impact.
A project which offers a perfect example of their innovative approach is the development of Cora, an empathetic AI for post-injury psychological first aid which the Theo + Theo team developed for TAL, a leading Australian insurance specialist. Developed with a foundation in community-based support, the Cora platform guides people through their recovery journey, following an integrated back-to-health program.
Sabrina Dorsainvil is a civic designer, artist and illustrator who works as Account Director of Civic Design, in the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Her vast practice, ranging from playful drawings and public art to strategic design and urban development projects, delves into complex issues such as housing, urban design and human rights, responding creatively to strengthen and initiate connection within communities.
Her 2019 mural Allston, I really love you!, was created in collaboration with DEAF Inc., the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Massachusetts State Association of the Deaf. This community-focused project invites locals to connect, encouraging a celebration of diversity and the local deaf community in Allston, the neighbourhood of Boston in which the mural was installed.
Jocelyn Glei is the host of Hurry Slowly podcast and creator of unique online courses like RESET, focused on guiding people towards better practices around work and life. Overall Jocelyn works to help people find creativity and meaning in their everyday lives.
Bisa Butler‘s incredible quilted portraits blend the modalities of craft and fine art to celebrate and canonise the rich depth of Black life, cultural identity and history in America. Here wellbeing is cultivated with story and creative mastery, to provide greater representation and empowerment of African American communities.
Ruby Allegra is an artist who works predominantly in communicating their lived experience as a queer, gender fluid, disabled person. Their work offers a smorgasbord of colour, wit and humour, infused with a no-fucks given, vibrant creative approach to sharing their story and those within their community through art and design.
Last but certainly not least, designer and Yuwaalaraay woman Lucy Simpson’s practice highlights the history and story of her country and people. A trans-disciplinary designer, artist and maker, Lucy founded her company Gaawaa Miyay in 2009. Her creative process led design practice is focused on creating spaces, branding and experiences which speak to country, cultural memory and notions of exchange.
While this is by no means a comprehensive list, we hope you enjoyed our tasting menu of change makers and culture shakers who are bringing the mighty worlds of art, design and wellbeing together in their practices. Want to read some more invaluable tips and articles about wellbeing in the design industry? Read the Shillington Post 09—The Wellbeing Issue online now or pick up a copy in person at one of our Info Sessions.