On FRiday March 1st 2013, the Desmeemers were invited to the Lebanese American University to talk about their design process during the three months of the Desmeem project. The teams informed the design students about the research methods they used, the challenges they faces along the way, and the outcomes they achieved through human-centered design. On behalf of the MENA DEsign Research Center, we would like to thank LAU and the Desmeemers for this truly informative and inspiring event!
During December 2 workshops were held in AltCity concerning migrant workers in Lebanon. At the end of which an exhibition and a Community Day was established on December the 16th. The workshops were developed in collaboration with Migrant Workers Task Force, AltCity, Joumana Ibrahim, and a group of Graphic designers who dealt with infographics. The exhibition design and concept was developed and implemented with the help of Doreen Toutikian, Director of the MENA Design Research Center, since it is one of the center’s goals to contribute to design for social change in the Arab World. Moreover, having worked with migrant workers on a previous Desmeem project, Community Day with the aforementioned partners is a good way to follow up with the latest updates and concerns regarding this serious challenge that affects the country profoundly.
On Community Day migrant workers from many different communities plus Lebanese and other nationalities came together in AltCity to share food, stories, laughter and celebrate the end of the year’s classes.
The Two Exhibitions of the Workshops are:
1) Lens on Life: A series of photo essays created by migrant workers using their mobile phones under the guidance of Ann Megalla and Dima Saber
2) Visualizing Migrant Rights: A series of infographics depicting the lives and rights of migrant workers in Lebanon produced by graphic designers under the guidance of Joumana Ibrahim.
In addition to the 2 workshops, AltCity is also displaying a series of infographics by Visualizing Palestine depicting some of the human rights violations conducted in Palestine.
This whole exhibition has been made possible through the help and support of the MENA Design Research Center, the Netherlands Embassy in Lebanon, the Migrant Workers Task Force, and numerous volunteers.
For more images click here, courtesy of AltCity.
The first MENA Design Research Center project, which was a cultural probe kit called Konfikit (2010), is now published in the globally acclaimed 2nd edition of the book ‘Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner’s Guide to User Research’. The 600- page text book is written by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky, and Andrea Moed, and published by Morgan Kaufmann Publishers (an imprint of Elsevier).
Excerpt from Back Cover: Observing the User Experience is a groundbreaking, comprehensive resource for user experience research. For over a decade, it has helped readers better understand what their users want and need from their products and whether users will be able to use what they’ve created. This second edition improves upon a classic, adding new methods and approaches to meet today’s challenging and diverse research requirements.
—Christian Rohrer, Manager, User Experience Research, Yahoo!
We would like to thank Elizabeth Goodman, for contacting us and finding our project suitable for the book, our client Toufoula, and all the illustrators and designers who contributed to making the Konfikit a beautiful research method.
On Sunday October the 7th, Director of the MENA Design Research Center -Doreen Toutikian- invited past Desmeem Participants to join in a panel to discussion: Open Design. Along with Elena Habre, Rawad Hajj, Giorgio Roberto Uboldi, Dima Boulad and Andreas Mueller, they discussed how a designer can play an important part in society by contributing to social and environmental issues.
The Desmeemers explained to the audience the different design research methods they used, and how their understand of design changed within the participatory process they developed with their project stakeholders. Then went on to infer how the Desmeem project has affected their current situation. Andreas and Giorgio returned to Lebanon to further develop some of their projects, Rawad won the Seeqnce challenge for his new social venture, Rikbit, and Dima continues to develop new initiatives for the community with the Beirut Green Project.
This discussion showed the various scopes of the designer outside the commercial sphere, and presented the audience with examples of some socially conscious efforts that are made possible within the world of design and social innovation.
Finally each designer discussed their own definition of Open Design. To Rawad, design became everything; to Elena is was the breaking of disciplinary boundaries: to andreas, he wanted design to be open for more than just designers; to Doreen, it is the founding of the MENA Design Research Center.
We would like to thank all the participants, sponsors, volunteers, the wonderful DESMEEMERS, the workshop givers, the designers, and all the partners for making Beirut Design Week 2012 a truly memorable first step towards making Beirut the Design Capital of the MENA region.
On March the 31st we kicked off DESMEEM. All the designers -Lebanese and European- as well as all the NGOs gathered at the Nasawiya Space in Mar Mikhael Beirut to meet each other and decide on the themes and teams. DESMEEM director, Doreen Toutikian, hosted the event and then explained about the detailed three-month program, the requirements, rules, and upcoming major events. By the end of the day, all the teams were formed and enthusiastic discussions filled the space. With a definitely positive outlook to the project, the DESMEEMERS then moved on to Chaplin, a bar just next door to enjoy a relaxed evening with their new teammates. The teams will meet with Doreen every Saturday for group discussions and feedback . There will also be weekly workshops to enhance the work of the designers given by various designers, researchers and educators from the Middle East and beyond.
Since all our organizational design is based on the design thinking process, we believe that iteration is a very crucial step towards the most optimum outcomes. Last week we had posted the 10 themes that the designers will be tackling throughout DESMEEM. We then asked our audience, partners, and potential designers about their opinions and suggestions. So we came up with a new and improved list of 10 themes.
Brain drain was added to the list and the Arabic Language removed. We figured that there is a lot being done in terms of Arabic typography in the region and there might be other issues that designers are not tackling at all. We changed social integration to migrant, as our aim is to figure out better way to involve migrant workers in our society and not to handle Lebanese sectarianism. We altered ‘finance’ into ‘personal finance’ because this initiative deals with creating a personal awareness and understanding of finance to the average person. We changed ‘politics’ to ‘democracy, because this cause is not about specific political parties as many assumed, but more about understand human rights and the roles of the people and the government. We added experience to healthcare, so that it is clear that we are not dealing with the design of surgical or hospital equipment as much as we are dealing with the entire patient’s experience in a hospital. Waste control is now sustainable consumerism, because it englobes an issue more holistically. Energy and water were added due to requirements from NGOs who voted on it’s importance and priority for MENA ecology and environment. And finally, noise pollution and urban space were joined together as it came to our attention that the solutions resulting from this team should take both aspects into account.
Lastly, we are now recruiting NGOs, institutions and companies that would like to take on one of the initiatives. They will be providing the design team with support in terms of resources, research data, PR, and general consulting.