Interview with Barbara Corti • How to design for positive social change and innovation

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Architect, creative director and teacher: Barbara Corti is a visionary who firmly believes in the importance of the relationship between ethics and aesthetics.

She likes “unfinished houses, those that still have boxes and rooms to fill in and walls to paint” and “intelligent design, which can add cultural value as well as the expression of taste”.

Graduated in architecture, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director in communication agencies and for five years as a digital product director at Condé Nast Italia, while gaining experience as a consultant and mentor for several fashion startups. At the same time, she has played an active role in international projects in the field of human rights and the International Development Law Organization, addressing the subject of the conception of human rights in developing countries.

We asked a few questions to Barbara Corti to deepen together her journey and the role played by creativity as a tool for change in society.

Barbara Corti

Ambra Crociani
Ambra Crociani
Ambra Crociani

How do you advocate for change in society?

I am not a politician, I am not an activist. So what gives me the authority to think and work on human rights and find a way to include them in creativity? The answer is in that often overlooked word “human”. I am a strategic designer who tries to integrate the best of communication, planning and design techniques into opportunities for a better life, and I try to do so in every project I do or participate in.

How would you describe your creative process?

My approach is to develop new forms of creativity and design thinking and to be aware of the responsibilities of creativity as a framework for social action. A lot of people worry that aesthetics kill ethics, that inclusion kills profit, that human rights kill creativity, but I don’t think that’s true at all. It’s just not true that designing something ethically diminishes the richness of the design. Rather the opposite.

How has your work evolved over time? What important discoveries have you made?

I started working as a designer many years ago and have done several projects as a creative director, as an architect, designer, illustrator, from business markets to international non-profit organizations nonprofit who work on human rights issues on behalf of people without constitutions and social justice. I learned a lot from these incredible experiences. I learned, for example, how the proper use of radio advertising in some African countries can help publicize the new rules of a democratic constitution. I also learned how creativity can help assert women’s rights in developing countries and how these stories can teach managers to incorporate diversity into their business practices.

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