In the 20th century graphic design became a valued tool for corporate America. This was
exemplified when IBM legend Thomas Watson Jr. gave a lecture at the Wharton School
of Business and coined the phrase “Good Design Means Good Business.”
Designers were generally seen as tools of capitalism. Creating brands, packaging, and marketing for consumer goods, graphic designers became an integral part of the free market system by contributing to the creation of wealth in society. Free market supporters believe that this creates peaceful relations and moral behavior.
Opponents feel that our unbridled spending and greedy consumerism has led society to the state of recession where we find ourselves today. The free market system is seen to be contradictory to issues of sustainability and encouraging social and community awareness. All over the world consumption rates are soaring. At the same time millions of people consume barely enough to survive. Poverty is often blamed for environmental degradation. Poverty does tend to affect local environments; however, overconsumption is threatening the entire planet.
Watch the Story of Stuff for an illustrated presentation about mass consumerism.