4.0 – DRAW meeting and City Dialogues
1st ever HEL-CPT DRAW meeting took place in one of the really well sprawled CPUT buildings. Francois, one of the CPUT students who started up a non-profit design agency (awesome idea by the way) presented us some of his cases around the world. A really interesting idea, among many, was a concept of a temporary shelter that can grow into a permanent house. The idea was a basic blueprint to bamboo frame and cloth cover, that can then serve as sort of the boundaries of harder materials to make the hut into a house. I have to admit that it’s an idea that we also once played with, with my Spanish friend in Helsinki – Jose – who has an NGO called Friends of Western Sahara. Jose works with Western Sahara refugee camp, one of the oldest in the world that now has its third generation inhabitants. I will link these two brave souls together – with me – and let’s see if we could combine this passion. Teemu Leinonen gave us a more detailed presentation about the co-designing project for a hospital ward. The presentation brought up some deep sensitive humane issues, like sickness and death. Ashraf talked about how designers sometimes tend to overlook the harder issues, and by that would be sort of designing for a better scenario than is true. Teemu told us though, that they did for example talk to people with terminal cancer and the hardness of that aspect to co-creation. The question of how to die well arose, which to me Ashraf gave a good simple philosophical answer: to live well. Alistar threw an open question to the design community present, that we should share our experiences of co-creation processes, where we have found it hard to work with some groups or individuals, for the community to better understand what creates that barrier to co-create. My two cents to this is that simply, if there is any hint on the individuals working with you in the process that you overstep their line of expertise the friction to collaborate will come up. Once, years back, when I was doing my BA thesis project I interviewed a bunch of professional designers about their ethics, moral and societal responsibility. Back then, it wasn’t that big of a trend as it has became now due to our climate and economic, and somewhat social crisis – although it was a big issue in Papanek’s and Fuller’s 60’s. Anyways, I executed most of the interviews in outside office spaces, like cafes and bars. Only one interview was done in an office, where I could immediately see an resistance to join my mission of more ethical design. And I strongly believe that the opinions were also circumstantial. The situation in these co-creation or even collaboration moments where there is clear resistance, it of course might be from several different reasons, like lack of trust to the professional facilitating the co-creation, lack of feeling of ownership in the project – shortly what is in it to me, or like me posing change to people in middle of their day to day work – was somewhat taking a dump in their sandbox. And no one likes that, obviously.
City Dialogue event happened at the at Cape Town Civic Center – also called Half Moon by the locals, or so did we hear. Alexander Stubb gave a talk about the importance, or 5 good points about hosting World Design Capital, which one of the good thing was the promotion of a city and country brand. It’s of course to us so apparent that Finland is almost a synonym to design, and Helsinki being the capital it must be the zero ground of things happening. But now that I’ve been here for few days and have really had a good glimpse of the design community and projects going on, the realization that we really are not the only ones making the best out this process called design – these guys are awesome here! Of course Finland has a history of high aesthetics, unbelievable sense of beauty in simplicity and function and material usage bar none, but this sort of new breath of social and open design clearly takes place in all fronts and countries. After Stubb, our Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen talked about Helsinki and even showed a picture of the last years Monocle magazine cover, where on a bright yellow sticker it told everyone that Helsinki is the best city in the world to live in – or was, since Monocle has found already their new favourite. Who cares I like Helsinki, and I actually even like what Jussi has done with our city. If you don’t share my view, take a look for example what the city youth department is doing, now with a lead of the best possible man to have those shoes – Tommi Laitio, in Ruuti –project. Jussi also mentioned Ravintolapäivä, urban gardening at Kääntöpöytä, Kalasatama development and so on. I suddenly feel very proud to be a citizen of Helsinki.