Wellcome Collection | 7 September 2017 – 14 January 2018
The first major exhibition exploring the relationship between graphic design and health is now open in the nearby Wellcome Collection. Comprising 200 objects including hard-hitting posters, flashing pharmacy signs, and digital teaching aids, ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’ considers the role of graphic design in constructing and communicating healthcare messages around the world and shows how graphic design has been used to persuade, inform and empower.
Drawn from public and private collections around the world, it features work from influential figures in graphic design from the 20th century, as well as from studios and individuals working today.
‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’ considers the persuasive strategies employed in shaping public perceptions around smoking, featuring luxuriant advertising campaigns from the 1980s alongside objects showing the impact of plain packaging and anti-smoking imagery found in formats as small as postage stamps. It also reveals the imaginative educational approaches taken to instruct us about our bodies, from 16th century anatomical pop-up books to 21st century apps, through to comic books advocating safe sex.
The role that design plays in informing and orientating people in medicalised spaces is explored throughout. This includes the use of brightly coloured design schemes in children’s wards to transform the hospital experience and improve patient wellbeing in settings traditionally considered to be intimidating and unpleasant. It also looks at how graphic designers deliver clear healthcare instructions to consumers through carefully designed colour coding systems, written instructions and pill packaging.
The final part of the exhibition reflects how graphic design can empower people and provoke an individual response. Inspired by a contemporary reimagining of Ken Garland’s First Things First manifesto (1964), which called for fellow graphic designers to employ their skills in aid of public benefit, this section will include powerful campaigns focussed on raising awareness of breast cancer, and complex conditions such as dementia, as well as raising organ donation rates.
Are you interested in the world of art and design? This autumn, Regent’s Place is ‘Shaped by Design’. Our event series is brimming with creativity inspired by our relationship with the creative arts. Check out our upcoming events here and don’t forget to share photos of you at them using the hashtag #RegentsDESIGN on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - @RegentsPlace.