FTF Manifesto – Our take

Following our seminar with Neil Angove on the subject of the FTF Manifesto and what it represents, we were asked to consider its message and expound upon our opinions. The reason for doing this was to come to understand our own beliefs regarding the subject of the importance of its message. The issue being social responsibility and commercial success and where we feel we sit on the spectrum of their importance to us.

We were divided in to groups of 4-5 and asked to use our graphic communication skills to communicate a persuasive message to educate and possibly change the minds of viewers and asked to select a particular audience for our campaign, based on whhich we thought would give us the most positive reaction and contribute the most to change.

In our group, we decided on a structured working method. Our first task was to conclude how we all felt about the FTF Manifesto, if it was wrong, what could we do to improve upon its work? I personally, feel the the manifesto is, in principle at least, a laudable attempt to reject a merely commercial role for designers and educate readers about the true potential for change design can be. However, the wording is a problem to my mind. There are clearly a great deal of designers happy a prosperous with successful careers, designing for commercial companies. The manifesto appears to write everything they have worked to achieve as worthless and unoriginal. A piece of design, regardless of its purpose, can be beautiful.

As a group, after discussion, we found we largely agreed on the FTF manifesto; a good message, executed poorly and in a way that would alienate many. Our first design decision, then, was to create a work that would be less aggressive, a simple nudge in the direction of sustainable and socially responsible design.

We then set about the task of how to express this, what format would work best for conveying our message?

  • Messages on paper towels
  • Road signs
  • Legal Graffiti Stencils
  • Messages of Public floors

These were all ideas we played around with, but in the end I convinced the group to make use of the road signs idea. My line of thinking was that road signs are universally recognizable to everyone and were carefully designed already, to be clear, eye catching and readable. We could also make use of their actual meaning. I felt that using a dead end sign would convey the limited scope of commercial design and be a powerful message.

There and Back Again Lane Bristol, England, UK

My peer came up the the idea of using a green arrow sign to illustrate the continuity and strength of sustainable design, a direction that would, in time lead to a good place, when eventually, hopefully designers would all work with the FTF Manifesto’s message in mind. The fact that it is green, a universally recognized colour for sustainability and environmental awareness is an added bonus.


Using these signs as templates, two of our group set to work on creating our design in Adobe Photoshop,  while all of us contributed to the final design through critiquing their work.

Finished Piece

I was pleased with our finalised design, given that we had just part of an afternoon to create it. I am satisfied we covered every aspect as we had planned to and conveyed exactly the message we wanted to in exactly the way we wanted. We have yet to determine exactly what format it would be implemented in as real world piece, either as a poster or as actual metal street style signs on walls. But we believe it would work either way.

We included the message underneath and carefully poured over the wording to create a message that would make people think, was entirely devoid or imperative and would, with luck, nudge them to be curious enough to scan the QR code to find out more. The QR code is a real one, it leads to the http://www.whatdesigncando.com/ page. A socially active design group who work to use Design for the betterment of society. Supporting causes and raising awareness through their design.

A lot of pressure was put on us to complete this brief in a short amount, but I am satisfied that, as a group we rose to the challenge and produced an original and effective piece of design.



Author: David Rothwell

I am a Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan School of Art and Design If you like any of my work, have feedback (good or bad) or would like to get in touch, please do

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