MENA PROJECTS

MENA Design Research Center discusses ‘Open Design’ during SHARE Beirut

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.

 

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DESMEEM, EVENT, MENA PROJECTS, SOCIAL INNOVATION

DESMEEM KICK OFF

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.

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DESMEEM, HOW WE WORK, MENA PROJECTS, SOCIAL INNOVATION

DESMEEM THEMES: Re-Adjusted

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.

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DESMEEM, MENA PROJECTS, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Presenting the 10 DESMEEM Themes

DESMEEM is a three-month collaborative project between 40 Arab and European designers aimed at creating solutions to social and environmental issues in the Middle East and North Africa. The project, which will start in April 2012, will be conducted by 10 teams of designers, each dealing with a certain theme. The themes include public space, noise pollution, public transport, financial awareness in Middle eastern culture, waste control, education, healthcare, politics, social integration and issues surrounding the Arabic language.

While some themes are general crucial issues within Middle Eastern societies, others are systems which present design issues on a smaller scale. The grounds for selecting these ten themes are based on a wide scope of observation and demands from the public. Moreover, the versatility of the list encourages the direct interaction of design with other disciplines that entail very concrete parts of people’s lives. Furthermore as an example, this means that the designers in the healthcare team will have to work with organizations such as hospitals, private clinics, or  insurance companies in order to understand their systems and create perhaps more efficient patient-doctor experiences.

Once the DESMEEM designers are selected, presentations of each theme will follow in order for them to learn about the issues that surround it and form the necessary teams.

Application deadline for DESMEEM is the last day of February 2012.

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EVENT, MENA PROJECTS, SOCIAL INNOVATION

DESMEEM Website & Application

The MENA Design Research Center has initiated Desmeem, a design project where European designers will come and stay in Lebanon for THREE months and work with Arab designers and non profit organizations to create better solutions for social and environmental issues in the Arab World. The final outcomes of all the teams will be exhibited and the best designs will be sponsored for production and implementation. To  view the website and learn more click here on the image below.

“We created Desmeem to promote the awareness of design as a multidisciplinary problem solving tool for social and environmental issues and to show the benefits of multicultural collaboration for such projects. By uniting nonprofit organizations and designers to work on common causes and help each other in reaching innovative solutions, we are extending the role of design in the Arab World. Moreover, we would like to encourage design education in universities to adopt such methodologies in their curricula and invest in exchange programs between Lebanon and Europe.” -Doreen Toutikian

To apply and become part of the project click on the image below.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, RESEARCH METHOD, SOCIAL INNOVATION

KonfiKits: Results & Insights

Summer has almost come to an end, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. We spent those 3 months getting to know kids from all over Lebanon and exploring their secret worlds, which they gladly shared with us. They gave us so much insight through their interactions with the KonfiKits, and introduced us to concepts we were hardly aware of with regards to their interests, worries, likes, dislikes, and lifestyle habits. Some answers surprised us, some made us laugh, others were very touching; in all cases sharing experiences with these tweens reminded us of what it feels like to be 10, 12, or 13. It became clear that due to technological advancements and over-exposure to media, many things had changed. These issues opened up new questions and topics to be further tackled.

Currently we are filing all the data we have received and we will be writing an official report to hand to Toufoula regarding our findings and suggestions to move forward with a design solution for better health awareness for Lebanese Children.

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DESIGN RESEARCH, MENA PROJECTS, RESEARCH METHOD

Introducing: The Konfikit

After months of preparation, the Konfikits, which are the first cultural probe kits designed by us as a form of research with kids in Lebanon, are finally ready to be distributed. We at the MENA Design Research Center are now the KonfiAgents, that will visit children between the ages of 10 and 13, explain to them how to use this kit and then come back in a week to recollect them. The process, results and insights collected within this project over the course of the summer will be documented online. If you know children who would be interested to take part in this great project, that will be a very useful tool in understanding our culture’s youth, and that is also much fun, please feel free to contact us.

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