World Interaction Design Day, our global initiative in partnership with IxDA to show the world how interaction design can improve the human condition, will return on September 24, 2019, and this year the theme is Trust and Responsibility.

To truly capture the theme, we needed a visual identity that told the story of IxDD and got people energized by the topic, so we reached out to award-winning creative and multi-disciplinary designer Tré Seals. Since design operates at the intersection of the humanities and technology, and humanity entrusts the work of designers in order to function in modern society, we want to convey the increasing, and ethical, responsibility for designers to put their user’s needs first. We asked Tré to dig deep on what this responsibility means for him.

“I thought a lot about how we, as creatives, make ethical decisions when developing a visual solution,” Tré explains. “I realized that the processes involved in machine learning are a mirror image of human thought processes. That’s why the identity system is a three-dimensional mind map, with all the depth of the process, and the simplicity of the solution. I chose a series of light/warm and dark/cool colors to create a variety of gradients that show the beauty and uncertainty of future technology.” In this post, he talks us through his designs, gives us an exclusive insight into his process, and shares what trust and responsibility mean to him as a designer.

An illustration of one of the font considered in the visual identity and branding for the themes of 'trust and responsibility' at IxDD 2019.

Creating a visual identity for the idea of ‘ethical decision making’

As with every project, this one started with a lot of research.

“Research is the basis for every decision I make,” Tré said. “More often than not, history informs my final decisions, so that’s where I started. I began researching the philosophy and metaphysics of truth. But no matter what solution I developed, the idea was just too complicated, and I realized that I needed to think more broadly.”

Tré then remembered taking a creative writing class during his senior year of college.

“Our very first assignment was to write a poem about a color,” he recalls. “This project is a bit like that. It’s much easier to brand a physical product or service, but to brand an idea is a completely different ball game!”

Tré explored how designers and developers understand trust and responsibility, but he realized that everyone has a different idea of these concepts.

“With that in mind, I realized that I needed to look at the big picture, which in this case led me to the concept of ethical decision making.”

A collection of various fonts and typefaces with notes on how specific elements demonstrate a connection to trust and responsibility.

Once the ideas began flowing, he began doodling and making mind maps — which eventually became the IxDD identity.

The IxDD masthead was created in font design app Glyphs, while the identity itself was built out in Illustrator.

What does trust mean to you, as a designer?

For Tré himself, trust means everything.

“My clients put a lot of trust in me,” he explains. “They trust that their investment in me and in my company will pay off for years to come. I also trust myself. I trust that I am capable of exceeding my client’s expectations. And I am responsible for maintaining that trust.”

Emerging technologies like AR, VR, AI, and voice UIs only further complicate matters of trust in design — it means designers need to continually tap deeper into fundamental issues of communication and human relationships with technology. This year’s IxDD theme challenges the interaction design community to explore trust and responsibility in their work, workplace, communities, and beyond.

“We are operating in an era plagued by dishonesty and misunderstanding. However, we work in an industry that has the potential to better the world we live in. That’s why trust and responsibility play such an essential role in 2019,” said Tré.

“As designers, these issues come down to transparency. It’s our responsibility to give our clients a better understanding of what it is we do. It’s our responsibility to educate clients who don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s our responsibility to teach them why free fonts are bad for business, what stock photography is, why good design takes time, how design is an investment in the future of their business, and explain what their hard-earned dollars are going towards. Transparency, that’s our responsibility as designers, and if we fulfill that responsibility, we can earn their trust, do our jobs better, and maybe, just maybe, change the way they see the world.”

The visual identity for World Interaction Design Day continues to evolve. Next on the list is an Instagram takeover of @adobedesigners, but Tré doesn’t want to give too much away. You’ll just have to wait and see.

How to get involved with IxDD 2019

Last year, the global design community came together at 90+ events in over 37 countries to celebrate the first-ever World Interaction Design Day. For information on how to get involved this year, visit the website and sign up for email updates.

If you’re reading this post in the future, be sure to check out our IxDD 2020 announcement.