Thursday, 14 January 2010

design: by all? - day 1, afternoon

this is the second part of my notes about the event about design promotion and design policies in the european union, organized by apci under the competent coordination of jean schneider on 11 and 12 january 2010. see the first part on my previous post.

territorial living lab, sicily:

tll sicily, a regional partnership for territorial innovation, was the theme of the first presentation of the afternoon, presented by jesse marsh, from the atelier studio associatio, italy. his talk begun showing the contrast of the last decades fiascos of the big telecom industries (like video on demand in the 80’s; wap in the 90’s; umts in the 00’s) with the later socially driven achievements in blogs, social networks, wikipedia, facebook.

using this new kind of technological platform, with fast prototyping methods, pervasive infrastructure and social networks, you can more easily get people involved in planning. but just getting people together is not enough – you got to have structured models assigning each one’s role on the process: who are the actors, what are the roles (and rules) to be played, where to get the funding (which might not necessarily be financial). in this sense a living lab is a multi-stakeholder partnership, involving available ict r&d (from universities, multinationals, smes) together with society (represented by associations, ngos, citizen groups) and local or regional authorities.

according to the speaker, tll sicily uses a virtuous partnership model, where actors are entitled to propose projects which will involve the others, generating a snowball effect (or a virtuous cycle). in this sense it is bringing territorial capital together, as much as in the dott cornwall programme presented earlier, where a blank page is being filed by each citizen.

then, if you are not going to tell people what they need, you have to provide them with proper tools to express and be heard.

today's innovation thinking is moving from building infrastructures to building networks. and also from sectorial policies to territorial policies, requiring new instruments to accomplish these tasks. regions have the responsibility to be creative and provide a demand-driven innovation policy. the european union has the role of providing legitimacy to design profession, and the new emerging role for designers is that of working at the level of policy planning.

(i have posted below an interesting set of four slides taken from the presentation with thoughts about a new role for regions, regional innovation policies, trends in innovation thinking and finally, a new role for design in this context. - click on the image to view it enlarged in another tab or window.)

the cudillero living lab – a fisherman’s experience

next speaker of the afternoon was salvador marques, head of the fishermen union from cudillero, spain. it was one inspiring example from someone that embraces the practical aspects of it as a doer, not a designer or a thinker. salvador is one of those community leaders that everyone described as fundamental partners to make it happen. he and his fellow fishermen from cudillero living lab share a spirit of environmental conservationism, knowing the importance of keeping their business in a scale of traditional fishing. his village has 100 square kilometres and less than 6 thousand inhabitants, and fishing represents 26% of local economy. it is a beautiful region, and the village is always facing the sea, as salvador commented showing the picture of the port square in the format of a horseshoe.

with their 60 boats and 950 fishermen they sold one million euros at fish auctions in 2008. but threatened with the changes in the world economy, they decided to invest in the quality and optimization of their production. their fish goes from the fish lines to the market in less than 24 hours. to distinguish themselves from others who freeze the fish on their boats, they have hired a consultancy to develop a system which combines gps monitoring system and a rigorous automatic control of the boats getting out and back in the port. the buyer receives by mobile messaging system information about the catches before the boat arrives at the port.

to communicate it, they developed a brand strategy focused on the quality and a geographical label, assuring the origin of the merlus they fish. this quality and territory label granted them a better price in the market.

gisele raulik, chairing the table, emphasized that in the way this project was planned and managed it has assured added value without interfering with the traditional craft of fishing, and it should be a lesson to designers dealing with other raditional sectors.

community engagement at newcastle:

philip joyce was the next speaker, talking briefly about the experience of the city of newcastle, that with the leadership of the city council, brought together several local actors – public and civilian – to build strong, active and inclusive communities.

bringing in a different vision of communities, he defined it either by geography, identity or interests. he also talked about the differences between engaging the community and empowering it. according to him, engaging doesn’t mean to have them heard.

city move - how to design the moving of a city?

gellivare, sweden: the local iron mining industry is expanding and the city ground is crumbling under the present buildings… the challenge: is it possible to move an entire society? well, this should be the chance to get a new start!

claess frössén, head of creative industry relations svid, the swedish industrial design foundation, spoke about this moving (in many senses) project, with many different implications. when svid was approached with this challenge, they thought it might be a good subject for an icsid interdesign workshop. these workshops are aimed to solve local problems aiding to develop solutions or methodologies that might be later applied somewhere else in the world.

the city move multidisciplinary workshop was then held in gellivare, from 22 march to 3 april of 2009, bringing designers and other specialists from the whole world to discuss the issue with the local community. there were 200 applications to participate in the workshop, and 38 were choosen, coming from 17 countries, and counting with two full-time process leaders and a small local support team. they got a budget around 700 thousand euros for the project, and established a knowledge centre on how to move a community. they questioned traditional methods of moving that were already being applied, like moving whole houses – there is no sense in moving an old wooden house to a new location!

as a result from the workshop, there were four cornerstone with strategies for the organization, communication, attraction and planned environment.

this is a great case study where design and design methods were applied to change the concept of relocating a community, and shows that design thinking can be used in any scale. other conclusions were that the user need to be involved in the process, not only focused in it, and that complex problems needs a complex mix of competences – cities need designers and brand managers, not only architects.

undoubtedly there are many places around the world that could learn a lot from this experience, and I think specially in my own city, rio de janeiro, with the frequent problems it faces, either with the tragedies of land sliding or the challenges of moving the communities living in the favelas to better and safer places.

closing the first day:

gisele raulik, from design wales, hosted the closing debate of the first day, with an insightful view of how the traditional, government-led approach of policy making is giving way to grassroots initiatives, user-centered and community level programmes.

nabeel hamdi remembered that we left behind not the great projects we’ve done, but the path to other great projects to come.

andrea siodmok endorsed this idea, saying that at dott they always talk about next practice rather than best practice – the later being a vision of the past, while the next practice, well, it’s the next thing to do!

she also pointed that the unique thing that design brings is to connect things from concept to results, and with design the ink is never dry – you’re always up to do new things, to view it in a different way. and that design is a great methodology when times are changing.

michael thomson, former president of beda (the bureau of european design associations), commented that design thinking should be brought into education in the same way that mathematic is taught, enabling young people to develop creative thinking for life.

No comments: