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As our world oscillates between URL and IRL, building connections goes beyond our traditional understanding of what’s tangible—becoming anything we can interact with, including the virtual world. Fresh out of one of ArtWorksTO‘s Workforce Development workshops, I was fired up and ready to explore all layers of this thought. As I made my way home—observing the people, places and ads across Toronto’s cityscape—I mulled over a concept I was familiar with that many panellists and attendees discussed at great length: Co-design as the solution.

This begs the question, what’s the problem? Panellists Kadon Douglas of BIPOC TV & Film and Sean Lee of Tangled Arts described it flawlessly during the workshop. “People have different access points to everything, including but not limited to power, resources and opportunities,” said Douglas. Lee followed up: “We’re not born understanding equity or how the world is built. We’re still working from a space where access is an afterthought. We must rethink how we can commit to an equitable and more inclusive world.”

Equity and inclusion aren’t a response; they’re disruption. And disruption isn’t an after-effect; it’s thought leadership.

So, where exactly does co-design fit into the mix?

Also known as participatory design, co-design is an approach that requires creative teams to explore both the ask/problem and the deliverable/solution collaboratively—something we do regularly at Media Profile by way of agency-wide brainstorming sessions. Because our lived experiences impact how we approach our present and future, they also have a hand in how we build solutions. Having a finger on the pulse of our respective communities is a skill set in and of itself—one that can’t be replicated.

Jumpstarting every production process with diversity of thought widens your vantage point, resulting in the best output possible. By treating all members of the creative process as equal collaborators, we can fill the gaps between stakeholders and the end-user in a meaningful way—it’s in these gaps that the best design and copy are born. The human experience can and should permeate every stage of the creative process. This approach sparks innovation and allows us to practice inclusivity as much as we preach it.

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Janu Yasotharan
Associate Creative Director

#PassportToMP: Go Jump in a Lake
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