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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ILLUSTRATION, MENA PROJECTS

Looking for the Perfect Character

Before being researchers, we are designers, and therefore aesthetics play a very central role in the production of our research tools. After going over a dozen illustrators in Lebanon, we decided to collaborate with Fouad Mezher, a talented young Lebanese illustrator and animator. The main criteria for the most appropriate character for our cultural probe kits were:

  1. The character should look genderless enough to appeal to both boys and girls.
  2. The character should look hip and edgy to reflect today’s image of ‘cool’ teenagers.
  3. The character should be quite flexible in expressions and movements to convey the attitudes and questions provided in the kit.

We worked with Fouad over a month trying to find the perfect character, and we finally landed on one we could all agree. We are still not sure what to name it, we though perhaps a 3 letter name that can be male and female would work best. Any suggestions are welcome.

 

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