Editor’s blog

We know that good design can change lives for the better, which makes it doubly sad when someone dies plying their creative talent to benefit others. 

The tragic death of photographer Tim Hetherington in Libya brings home just how close to the edge photojournalism – a subject we focused on in this week’s issue (DW 21 April) – comes. At its best, it is a supreme example of how creatives can have a positive impact on societies by drawing public attention to the realities of war and other social crises.

Tim Hetherington
Tim Hetherington (pictured right) and American journalist Sebastian Junger documenting the film Restrepo

Hetherington, who died aged 40 in Misrata alongside fellow photojournalist Chris Hondros, was totally committed to his work. He was honoured in Design Week’s Hot 50 earlier this year for the Sundance award-winning film Restrepo, made with US journalist Sebastian Junger and charting the year the duo spent in 2007 embedded with US troops in a hillside in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. They were on an assignment for Vanity Fair magazine.

Hetherington was nominated for inclusion in the Hot 50 by Garrick Hamm, creative partner at Williams Murray Hamm and himself a film-maker. When news emerged of Hetherington’s death, Hamm penned this short tribute for us:

‘He was a Liverpool lad, who worked for Vanity Fair. I spent some time with him in New York last year. He was clearly a gifted photographer, but [also] a calm, charming, chap, whose bravery eventually cost him his life.’

Our thoughts go to Hetherington’s family and friends and the many people whose lives he touched.

On a happier note, our congratulations go to the winners of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design’s latest 24-hour Inclusive Design Challenge. A team led by Nestlé’s Ben Mortimer took the Judges Award for a smart-phone game, Street Wheels, where players mount wheel-based transport like prams, skateboards and wheelchairs to steer their way through hazardous urban streets.

Wheelchair Arcade
The Collective Team
The Collective team

So confident was the team, which included wheelchair user Simon Grisdale as its ‘design partner’, that it changed its name at 2.30am, half way through the challenge. The original name The Collective was abandoned for CSJ – the Centre for Smoother Journeys – in the hope of cashing in on the idea. Strange things patently happen under the pressure of 24-hour challenges, which are fast becoming to design contests what quick-fire Pecha Kucha acts are to ‘show-and tell’ presentations.

10 Collective
10 Collective

Congratulations too go to the all-female 10 Collective, led by Gemma Dinham, which worked with visually impaired artist Sally Booth to create Memo – a personalised card-based service to help partially sighted people use automated teller machines more easily. The team of four freelance graphic designers won The People’s Choice Award, voted by their fellow challengers.

Credit Card
Ticket Machine

Two great things came out of this year’s Inclusive design Challenge. On the one hand, inclusive design edged closer to the mainstream with ideas such as Street Wheels. On the other, designers from across the world who probably hadn’t previously met came together in five teams to meet the brief.

Win win? I reckon so. 

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  • Garrick Hamm November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    My short note doesn’t do Tim’s life justice.

    Tim used his craft to show the rest of the world people suffering in conflict.

    When we parted company after the New York Art Directors Club last year, most of us were going back to our fancy studios and frothy coffee. Not Tim, he was off to another war zone.

    I can understand why he did it (he cared so deeply) but I don’t know how he did it. How did he get to be so brave?

    He will live on through his pictures and film, in the knowledge that he was a creative who actually made a difference.

    A big guy, with a big heart.

    My thoughts go out to his family.

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