EVENT, INSPIRATION, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Design Without Borders Conference & Exhibition in Oslo

On November 1st 2012, Design Without Borders, a 10-year project in association with Norsk Form and DOGA organized an international conference with a curated exhibition of the collected works in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs being a partner of this project, invited over 50 designers, educators and professionals from 20 countries around the world. Two people from the Arab World (MENA) were invited as well: Doreen Toutikian, Director of the MENA Design Research Center from Lebanon and Younes Duret from Morrocco.

About Design Without Borders: ” In the field of both design and development aid, there is increasing awareness about the important contribution design makes towards solving the challenges facing developing countries. The last decade has shown us that designers, in their enthusiasm to act, often underestimate the complexity of the challenges they undertake and create practical but inappropriate solutions. Similarly, the developing communities are often so overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation that they are unable to innovate effectively. The conference Design without Borders – Creating Change focuses on the work and thoughts of designers, organizations and entrepreneurs that have managed to find a way of combining complexity and action, effectively using design to create change in real world situations.”

The Speakers: Leif Verdu-Isachsen (Norsk Form), Cynthia E. Smith( Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum), Tor Inge Garvik (Laerdal Global Health), Sille Askefrø Bjørn (INDEX: Design to Improve Life), Eve Blossom (Lulan Artisans), Elizabeth Palmer (Danish Refugee Council), Ole Chr. Kleppe (SuSan Design), Anna Kirah (Steria), and Nita Kapoor (FK Norway)

The conference was followed by a curated tour of the exhibition which was a collection of products, architecture, and services that have been designed and implemented through Design Without Borders for developing countries over the last decade.

For more info about Norsk Form and Design Without Borders click here. Photo credits: Norsk Form/Kjersti Gjems Vangberg

 

 

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
EVENT, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Last week’s talk at AltCity

Last week Doreen Toutikian gave a talk about Design for Social Innovation within a mini-conference about Social Entrepreneurship  hosted by AltCity in Beirut. As many of the attendees were part of non-profit organizations, and very few of them were aware of how design thinking can help them with creative problem solving; the discussions that followed brought on new possibilities for collaboration. Many of them wanted to learn more about the design thinking process from research and ideation to prototyping and implementation. After further discussions with David Munir Nabti, head of AltCity,  there might be a series of workshops regarding this matter in the near future.

On a more recent note, the crowd was also informed of our new project DESMEEM which will be launched next week, so stay tuned.

Standard
DESIGN RESEARCH, SOCIAL INNOVATION

Why Design Research is Important for the Arab World Now

Photo by Ravy Shaker

The political scene in the MENA region is now at the epitome of historical breakthrough, we are the generation that is experiencing a revolution like none other in our region- on a multitude of dimensions and scales. The Arab Spring has revealed to the world that this region, whose peoples have been forced to deal with ongoing political strife and social conflict for decades, is now fervently undergoing a period of massive change. What is more surprising to the world however, is that for the first time we see the Western world taking initiative from the uprisings of the Arab peoples and re-manifesting that rage towards their own political and social systems. Considering the fact that the Arab world has almost always been the ‘follower’ or recipient of  the West in almost all matters until now, this new age of global activism is creating -in many ways- a new era and understanding  of politics.

So where does design  research come in? To most designers who specialize in social innovation, the answer is obvious and the possibilities are endless. First off, as designers we consider that the implications our actions may have on people should be preferably due to participatory and bottom-up design strategies. This means that we encourage the input of the people involved in the problem being tackled, by learning from them, working with them, and designing for them the right tools that they can use to create change in their communities. It is in fact the smaller circles of change and the meme effect they have on surrounding communities that lead to change in the whole system itself. In other words, designers can perhaps help the Arab communities redefine their systems by being the link between politics and the people. By going into each home and understanding the real underlying issues they face and gathering qualitative data, culture specific and innovative solutions can be formed and implemented.

Design does not promise grandeur illusions of instant solutions that fix all social and political problems simultaneously, but it offers people the empowerment to start making small changes in their communities  and understanding the design thinking process to problem solving. Most importantly, as this understanding of design and designers is a fairly new concept, it brings with it the motivation of a new idea and the enthusiasm of young designers who believe that on some microscopic level, they are saving the world.

Standard
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.

Standard