Soumitri in 2016

Design is vehicle for change. A Design Project can be a campaign. In a furiously online world I see design projects as either a first step towards a business venture or a campaign that changes the way people think. Design innovations can change the way we deal with ageing and death. Design projects can change the way the world thinks about issues. Design projects can be about improving the lives of ordinary and marginalised people. Below are some of the areas I am currently interested in/ excited about:
  1. How to die well
  2. Ways of dealing with obesity
  3. Imagining a Future beyond Medicine
  4. Ways of Journalling Pregnancy
  5. Design for people with Locked-in syndrome
  6. Proposing a Bio-Dome (a personal diagnostic ecosystem)
  7. Design for living longer
I live and work in Melbourne. In Melbourne there is a lot of energy these days around imagining a healthy future. I engage with this energy.
  1. My design approach focuses upon proposing a future that contains preferred/ visionary products and services.
  2. I am excited by design projects that focus on the small and big challenges facing humanity.
  3. I see design projects as campaigns and so have developed, and therefore teach, the abilities required to prototype design projects within communities.
  4. My current interest is in innovations in healthcare services, where I focus upon de-medicalising and re-contextualizing normal practices to develop new traditions and artefacts in the areas of:
    1. Mental health
    2. Obesity
    3. Ageing
    4. Death
    5. Diabetes
    6. Maternal health
    7. Hearing loss
    8. (Defines the design theme or discourse)
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Flower-lined streets had fewer burglaries

miyazaki street japan image
Flower Power Thwarts Burglars in Japan : TreeHugger

Studies have shown that hospital patients make a speedier recovery when they have a exposure to living vegetation, like trees and flowers. And certainly great metropoli are made even more liveable by their extensive parks and gardens. Now it seems that plants can also deter burglars. Sort of.

Suginami, a district of Tokyo, Japan experienced over 1,700 break-ins in 2002. By 2008 this had dropped by about 80%, down to a mere 390 thefts. This dramatic change is attributed, in part, to Operation Flower, according to a Reuters report.

The project, one element of a larger crime prevention scheme, came about after a neighbourhood watch team discovered that flower-lined streets had fewer burglaries.

Curriculum Design

Just some eye candy on this subject – Papanek’s sketch.
https://i0.wp.com/www.shirari.com/blog/img/needs-wants-papanek.jpg

I made the draft for three curricula – courses in Social Design, Service Design and Social Innovation. I am imagining that at this point the object trajectory of design is one path. The dematerialized is another way entirley.

The difference in the two paths is the focus upon the elite in the former. A focus upon objects, beautiful things and the producer. The latter focuses upon change and upon lives.

2009 project

Theme: Social Innovation and Service Design

My practice is in the area of sustainability – which I articulate as the development of projects that look at material and systemic sustainability in Industrial Design Projects. A lot of these projects are speculative and propositional so located in the future. I work with a set of defined methods and strategies to think through the projects and develop the solutions. In recent years I have seen the amplification of the social dimension in my projects – and I have also seen the outcomes of the projects as social innovations. Often I have seen the projects become new, viable and self sustaining business ventures – which are social entrepreneurship ventures. I campaign for a dematerialised world and therefore privilege service design – which in recent days has seen me move towards interaction design which is needed in the development of and delivery of services.

And …
I see two kinds of students in the studio. One with clear projects ( developed in Research Methods) and others who can; one, quickly come up with a project idea in the area of sustainability, or two, work on a project within my Urban Laboratory research grant project. This latter is titled NGINGO and is a cluster of projects making up a full scheme for a ecologically closed-system university campus – this is a live project.

Therefore the topic spread will look like this:
1.    Individual project
2.    Ngingo Project (12 design projects)
Key aspects
1.    Student allocation: my preferred option is student centered and therefore student selects.
2.    Calendar – Week 3 (end research), week 6 (at risk check) and week 8 for closure (presentation of digital finals), week 8 to 15 is for execution/ making.
3.    Deliverables – digital-model, folio-report, 3D model-prototype
4.    Day – Thursday Morning
5.    Project – Individual project or Themed studio (Ngingo)
6.    Learning Contract – the student specifies their schedule (3-6-8-15)
7.    Online record (developing a byline) – wordpress ( this is web2.0 and develops students’ online publishing capability), firefox with addons (scribefire, delicious, vodpod)
ProBono Design (campaign 1)
Additionally – All students would volunteer for a design submission for a bushfire-safe bunker – full scheme to be submitted in week 2. This is something they do alongside the project – and is something I am doing with Architects for Peace.

Ngingo
This is the subject of a UL grant application and is a cluster of concerns in the area of modelling sustainable solutions. Sitting behind the application is a live project for a university campus in India – thus a potential trip to India to present the work/ exhibit it(sem 2 NID exchange student will work on the exhibition design ).

1.    Ecosphere (6 projects) – AUD in context, description of the campus environment in India
a.    No sewage pipe – extreme water use challenge
i.    Clothing care
ii.    Washing, cooking and cleaning
b.    Zero waste – no garbage out of campus
c.    Energy – self sufficiency
d.    Food – Urban agriculture
e.    Subterranean bunkers – cool room
f.    Transport – No personal vehicles and sharing
2.    Social Innovation (3 options) – entrepreneurship incubator
a.    Food – Local food, student food
b.    Health
c.    Sharing
3.    Car and car sharing (1 option)
4.    Bushfire Bunker (1 option)
5.    Diabetes (1 option)

The opportunities in an Economic Downturn for Designers

I keep hearing of people being laid off – Designers are losing their jobs in the current downturn. So what do they do. I have a few ideas for things you can do as you wait for the economy to turn around:

1. Go back to uni and do a Masters degree. So you get to skill up, retrain, have fun and wait out the downturn.

2. Start a social innovation venture. I have a few ideas for this and have been talking to colleagues about doing a series of workshops to help interested people to get a venture up and running.

3. Start a Blog and write in your free time. In this way you can develop a byline and an online portfolio of thoughts – which will be useful when you go looking for work in time.

4. Do blue sky projects and post them online.

5. Retrain as a Social Innovator, Interaction Designer or Service Designer.

6. Become A Green Loans Home Sustainability Assessor. Follow this link to see more.

Now if any of these ideas appeal to you do comment and we can start a conversation.

Economic Downturn Boosts Work at Home Opportunities – Web Design Melbourne

Work at home opportunities or home based businesses will soar over the next few years. This is not just because people will have to work from home because they have been laid off – had to retire- or feel uncertain about the future. It is because this is the economic trend.

Social Design it is

I have just come back from India. And from Presenting the School of Design vision. For now its all go – and that is really exciting. In short the vision argues for three new kinds of courses:

1. Social Innovation: Where the key focus is upon a people orientated project that uses methodologies more attuned to the social. The vision here is that the problems of the world cannot be solved by technical intervention at the tip of the pyramid only. And trickle down is often ineffectual as it dries up before it gets to the bottom.

2. Service Design: Where the key focus is upon changing existing services which are doing such a bad job of ensuring a decent quality of life for all – or of coming up with new service ideas.

3. Social Design: Where the undergraduate curriculum in design is proposed – as a social one. Where the discourse is post professional – where specializations ought to be seen as things of the past. For specializations were a feature of a technological society – as in compartments and efficient units. In a post industrial society the profession of design too changes and becomes disengaged from the material and technical.

The school vision acknowledges the existence of the two dominant/existing paradigms of design – as the art and design construct and the technical innovation construct – and proposes an additional paradigm the social. Which is a sense makes then the case for the existence of three meta discourses: the 1850s onwards dominated by the Art and Design rhetoric in the words of Ruskin-Morris, then Gropius and Muthesius; the 1950s onwards where the technical-industrial is privileged in the voice of Banham, with Pevsner sitting on the fence; the 1990s onwards where the third discourse emerges in the voice of Manzini and the post-sustainability texts.

Sustainability has a post attached to it as design was to leave the technical in sustainability to the labs, TU Delft and the clusters that went too far into LCA, the quantitative and the rhetoric that was then called eco-design. But as the suits moved in to sustainability discourse – the poetics got marginalised and the aesthtic in sustainability was relegated to the material manipulations. So the ‘save the planet’ brigade in design opted out and found social innovation.

This is succinct picture – just done to distance social innovation from sustainability. Where sustainability is about the dominant discourse and the social is the inclusive marginal.

In short there is a possibility that the discourse of design i about to get a fresh lease of life – atleast in India – in the guise of the social.

Sustainable Innovation: The Organizational, Human, and Knowledge Dimensions

Sustainable Innovation: The Organizational, Human, and Knowledge Dimensions | Discovery Fuel

Problematically, most contemporary patterns of innovation in human social systems and organisations are not sustainable. This prevents people from learning effectively, from recognising and solving their problems, and from operating in sustainable ways. It is arguably why societies, businesses and industries around the world are so unsustainable.

Sustainable innovation is a pattern of social learning and problem- solving that is, itself, sustainable. The sustainability of innovation, moreover, is linked to the sustainability of its outcomes, which manifest themselves in what people produce and do in the world. Sustainable innovation, then, is a necessary precondition for sustainability in how societies and organisations function – the ways they organise, the products and services they make, the energy and resources they use, and the wastes they produce.

As challenges such as demographic pressures, ethnic tensions, terrorism, global poverty, pandemics and abrupt climate change force their way into mainstream politics and business, so we see growing interest in innovation, entrepreneurial solutions and, critically, issues such as how to ensure successful solutions replicate and scale. Sustainable Innovation aims to illustrate that shift. Instead of simply focusing on environmental and technological matters, it views and evaluates innovation-for-sustainability in terms of the human, social and management challenges and responses.