Steven Heller Interviews Shawn Wolfe
Article by: Steven Heller
Pages 47 - 53


Shawn Wolfe is founder of Panic Now, a satirical design industry made to promote critical thought of current consumerism. He is personally against branding and the marginalization against the “have and have nots”.
His company created a fake promotion called the RemoverInstaller, which had no definable purpose than to contradict its self. Amazingly, Wolfe muses, his fake product could generate revenue if advertised well.

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Responsible Design

When asked what he thought as “Responsible” design, he replies that to be responsible is to be accountable for your own actions. The designer has to recognize production and consumption activity in the market. And, when designing for the people, has to own up to the effects their designs have on the community and recognize them. One has to work toward the “Public Good” to promote thought even if the designer is deemed irrational. He feels that the worst thing a designer could do would be to ignore their influence on the community as a whole.

Art and Design Change Lives

Art helps see the world that you would otherwise ignore. Good design permeates all aspects of ourselves in not only typical design, but also: advertising, fashion, and even architecture. Competition among designers and companies breeds more advertising in more places, in ordinary life. On the upside the majority of the public has “heightened design literacy” and “heightened expectation”[1] .

Wolfe talks about designers having Meaningful Action in which culture is a market place. Even though there is a separation of public and designers he strongly suggests designers reaching out to the public through accessible means to deliver a message. His strongest theme is the weapon of sincerity in that you should be aware of what you are doing is worth the effort.


In his writing Wolfe makes the point again and again that the designer must connect with the audience. All too often the designer does not even directly meet the client face to face and does not have that crucial interaction that would allow for more dialogue. It is at this critical step that the message gets changed over the medium or miscommunication. The designer's intension also becomes scrambled between themselves and the audience, which can discredit a design to make it untrustworthy.


  • Heller, Steven (2003). "Brand Name Dropper", Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne, Citizen Designer.

  1. ^ Heller 2003, p. 51