Tuesday, 3 December 2019

design & development: the book

its been a long time (five years!) since i’ve last posted here. with so many different options of content sharing, blogs have seem to lose momentum. but considering it as a repository of some of my ideas, it is fair to keep it rolling for a while more. so here are the updated news about a (extremely significant) part of what has been keeping me busy: a book about design policies.

launched in brazil in the end of 2015, it was initially published only in portuguese (with the title - design & desenvolvimento: 40 anos depois). but the day has finally come to release an english version of it, from which i share my note to the first english edition:

the subject of design policies is slowly growing to be broadly discussed, although most of the time from within a design practitioners’ and design enthusiasts’ bubble. public administration is gradually embracing design from another perspective - using design thinking to develop programmes and services. lawmakers and government executives are still distant, frequently without a real knowledge of design and its potential. governments (and designers as well) seem to be contented by design promotion actions or programmes, which are frequently wrongly accepted as a design policy. from this prospect, this book intends to be a contribution to the debate of design policies nourished by past experiences and reflections, but also from current practices - as in europe and china, for example.

the book was originally meant in hindsight of a document produced in the seventies by the united nations industrial development organization, unido, within the context of a partnership with the international council of societies of industrial design, icsid. this partnership resulted in a document discussing design as a driver of economic growth, prepared by gui bonsiepe in 1973, and then summarized by the unido secretariat in 1975 as the basic guidelines for policy of industrial design in developing countries. both documents were made available for this book by unido, and are reproduced here as appendices. although originally aimed at developing countries, after these four decades of unsettling growth of wicked problems, this theme deserves to be reviewed and discussed thoroughly. design might play a very significant role when approaching contemporary problems such as rearranging urban spaces, urban mobility, tourism, immigration, housing, violence, and environment among others. these - not so new - wicked problems prompts to a whole new perspective on design and public design policies that goes beyond the original context here. the perspective of the “third world” economy (as it was known at the time) might offer insights to understand and perhaps solve problems of any size economy - especially if we consider the aspects of local or regional problems. it is time to exercise empathy towards someone else’s problems and to reflect under different scales and measures, and design seem to be the perfect instrument for it.

mugendi m’rithaa, former president of icsid (currently the wdo, world design organization) saluted the book as “the most important contribution on this field in the last ten years” (cited in the final remarks of his interview in the chapter - design in africa: i participate, therefore i am). in brazil the book was awarded twice - initially at the objeto:brasil international design award in may 2016, and then later at the same year at the mcb (museum of the brazilian home) design awards of 2016. the jury of this later has acclaimed the book as “a theoretical and academic milestone, with potential to change the current practice and understanding of design.” after the successful launch in portugal with conferences in three design schools in 2016, the book was selected in 2017 to the exhibition brasil: hoje at mude, lisbon’s museum of fashion and design. the curator, frederico duarte, highlighted in the catalogue: “the first and indispensable book on design and development in the portuguese language.” in 2018 the book was selected in spain to be part of bid, the ibero-american design biennial, in madrid. in the same year was published an e-book edition in portuguese to make it more accessible, at the same time that this first english edition started being prepared.

gabriel patroci­nio & josé mauro nunes, lisbon, september 2019

[ the e-book is available for amazon kindle and other platforms ]