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the journal of Design strategies Designing for Billions

Vol. 6, No. 1 | Spring 2013

Vol. 6, No. 1 | Spring 2013 Designing for Billions

Editorial Staff

Guest Editor Carlos Teixeira Executive Editor Matthew Robb Managing Editor Emily Culliton Copy Editor Ellen Keelan Template Design Pure+Applied Graphic Design HvADesign Henk van Assen Loide Marwanga Sarah Eidelson Illustrations Serena Alcamo Daniela Bosco Manuela Celi Valeria Federighi Roberto Iñiguez Flores Laura Mata García Cristina Handal Gonzalez Sonia Manchanda João Tezza Neto Jagrut Raval Rebecca Reubens Martin Woolley Haian Xue

The Journal of Design Strategies is published by The New School in association with the School of Design Strategies at Parsons The New School for Design. PA R SONS

2 West 13th Street, 9th floor New York, NY 10011 Parsons focuses on creating engaged citizens and outstanding artists, designers, scholars, and business leaders through a design-based professional and liberal arts education. Parsons students learn to rise to the challenges of living, working, and creative decisionmaking in a world where human experience is increasingly designed. The school embraces curricular innovation, pioneering uses of technology, collaborative methods, and global perspectives on the future of design. Volume 7 of the Journal, addressing the theme of “Alternative Fashion Systems,” will be published Fall 2013. © The New School 2013. All rights reserved. ISSN: 1935-0112. ISSN: 1935-0120 (online).

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Table of Contents


Carlos Teixeira



Design Strategies Dialogue: Sonia Manchanda, João Tezza Neto, Lou Yongqi, Moderators Bruce Nussbaum and Carlos Teixeira Green Economy and the Challenges of Conservation in the Amazon João Tezza Neto

Daring to Dream: The Origins of the DR EA M:IN Project Sonia Manchanda

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Design and Nostalgia: Idealized Memory and Strategic Design Innovation in China Haian Xue and Martin Woolley





Design as Value Catalyst for SME s in Emerging Contexts: The Case of Guadalajara, Mexico Manuela Celi, Roberto Iñiguez Flores, and Laura Mata García Incremental Open Spaces: The Case of Dharavi, India Daniela Bosco, and Valeria Federighi

Serena Alcamo,

Holistic Sustainability Through Collaborative Innovation: The Rhizome Approach Rebecca Reubens




letter from the dean

It is a pleasure to present Volume 6 of The Journal of Design Strategies, which under the title “Designing for Billions” explores new opportunities for design in the context of emerging markets. Increasingly today, market and social actors including entrepreneurs, activists, investors and policy makers are coming together to envision and implement initiatives promoting broad-based prosperity and sustainable development in various locations throughout the developing world. And within emerging markets such as those of India, China, Mexico, and Brazil, designers are playing important roles: working with social activists to increase the efficacy of their missions; helping entrepreneurs develop new forms of socially inclusive enterprise; advising government agencies in the creation of incentive mechanisms that preserve the planet’s biodiversity; and leveraging the energy and enthusiasm of students to advance the aspirations of ordinary people in regions that today remain among the poorest on the planet. One project in this last category, the DR E A M:I N initiative described in this volume, provides an especially compelling illustration of how design can help identify needs and realize dreams around the world—above all the dreams of basic security, economic opportunity and education shared by everyone, yet still denied to millions of people, particularly in many developing countries. I’m proud that this innovative initiative, co-directed by Parsons faculty member Carlos Teixeira, has been recognized by Metropolis Magazine as one of six “Game Changers” for 2013. As always, I am very grateful for the ongoing support of the Karan-Weiss Foundation in sponsoring the Design Strategies Dialogue transcribed in this volume, as well as the Journal itself. That support allows us to continue to explore the multiple intersections of design-driven innovation and business strategy, in the developed world and beyond.

Joel Towers Dean

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Stephan Weiss Lecture Series

Each year, Parsons’ School of Design Strategies hosts the Stephan Weiss Lecture Series on Business Strategy, Negotiation, and Innovation. This lectureship was launched in 2002 to commemorate the life of the late artist and sculptor Stephan Weiss, husband and business partner of the fashion designer Donna Karan. Weiss co-founded Donna Karan International in 1984, and was instrumental in every significant venture the company undertook: launching and structuring new brands, most notably the Donna Karan Beauty Company; signing new licenses; establishing in-house legal and creative departments; devising its computer design technology; orchestrating the company’s initial public offering in 1996; and negotiating its sale to the current owner, LVM H Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton. In Spring 2009, the School of Design Strategies became the formal host of the Stephan Weiss Lecture Series, and inaugurated a new format for the lectures, the Design Strategies Dialogue, featuring the pre-eminent design theorist Ezio Manzini in conversation with the distinguished cultural anthologist Arjun Appadurai. Recent Weiss lecturers and Dialogue participants have included Anna Valtonen, Rector of the Umeå Institute of Design at Umeå University in Sweden; Nigel Snoad, an expert in disaster relief, crisis management and humanitarian interventions; Natalie Jeremijenko, director of the Environmental Health Clinic at New York University; and Yochai Benkler, Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard University and codirector of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


letter from the editor

It is estimated that in 2012 the world’s population reached the mark of 7 billion people, an impressive growth from a total population of 1 billion in 1800. Combined with the emergence of a middle class concentrated within the borders of a few developing countries, such as Brazil, India and China, this phenomenon is generating imbalances of supply and demand for goods and services worldwide. Indeed, the emerging markets and growing consumer classes of Brazil, Russia, India, and China—the so-called BR IC s—are transforming the global economy, stretching the limits of current production models and systems. The rapid changes occurring in these markets offer challenges to design as well as immense opportunities for redefinition. What is the place of design and the role of designers in this changing context? As we witness the impact of these changes, what questions should we be asking in order to better understand underlying dynamics and steer decision-making toward positive outcomes?

FROM DEVELOPING NATION TO EMERGING MARKET In order to work effectively within these shifting parameters, we must first understand the factors that determine a nation’s position in the global economy. To put the notion of “developing economies” into perspective, consider that for over thirty years, Brazil has been among the world’s top ten economies in terms of industrial output and the export of commodities. What it has lacked is a consumer class. The case is similar in Russia, where despite its longstanding importance as an exporter, the nation is only now moving toward a consumptiondriven economy, after decades under the Soviet planned system. Clearly, what an economy produces —in other words, its gross domestic product— is only one consideration. What about a country’s internal market? What happens when an emerging nation becomes a nation of consumers? India and

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China combined account for half of the world’s population; where are the goods they will increasingly demand going to come from? As nations move from exporting to importing, their people begin to have a voice. Consumers set the terms for what they want, what they will pay for, and hence what will be produced. In India and China, for example, massive demand for clean, high-quality water has created a market for water purifiers and bottled water. In just a short period of time, purchasing water in these forms has become habitual for millions of people. What are the consequences when this and other consumer behaviors multiply? Our design methods currently lack the sophistication, speed, and scalability to operate with maximum effectiveness in the context of the world’s diverse and complex emerging markets. It’s one thing to design a product for global use and another to design for consumer markets in India, China, or Brazil, each of which are going to demand localized, context-specific solutions for niche markets of millions of people. At present, we have neither the tools nor the organizational capacity to meet that demand. As we design for emerging markets, we need to understand the social and cultural patterns that are unfolding, reshape and redefine how we practice design, and determine how to connect to other systems to handle growing complexities. In doing so, we need to ask ourselves a number of questions, beginning with the ones outlined below. DESIGN FOR A CHANGING VALUE CHAIN As an increasing number of multinational corporations look to China, Brazil, and India for opportunities for rapid expansion, the question of resources remains. Do these countries have the resources to support the doubling or tripling in size that many corporations are seeking? And how are corporations responding to market pressures to design fair trade products and services? Corporate expansion in emerging markets requires local capillarity, including the use of resources, such as small farms, that are currently limited. A tremendous amount of innovation needs to happen, not just in terms of the final product


but in terms of the way in which products are designed and produced. In particular, addressing inadequacies in global value and supply chains needs to become a major focus for designers. In turn, by redesigning production, we can help people in developing countries invent new ways of consuming and, indeed, new ways of living that are sustainable and sensitive to local needs, traditions, and aspirations.

Our design methods currently lack the sophistication, speed, and scalability to operate with maximum effectiveness in the context of the world’s diverse and complex emerging markets.

DESIGN AND CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY Multinational corporations are not alone in seeking opportunities within emerging markets; major in-country corporations have established themselves in the BRIC nations as well. Indeed, in many cases multinationals are arriving only to find markets already dominated by domestic concerns whose principals have the advantage of knowing the local channels, culture, and supply chain. What type of design training should business leaders from emerging markets receive? Are in-country leaders, particularly business leaders, aware that the impact of their decisions is not just local? Increasingly, the ways companies produce, outsource, and distribute products have global implications. Decisions made in China are essentially multiplied by billions, and the repercussions are felt from the U.S. to Europe to Africa. We’re accustomed to networking and learning from each other within the U.S. or European nations, but to what extent are we educating, discussing, or learning from business leaders in emerging markets, and how aware are these leaders of their new international position?

DESIGN, SOCIAL INNOVATION, AND IMPACT INVESTMENT What new types of investment funds are being created to promote social innovation? Who is investing in the research and innovation that will enable these new global value chains to be designed? Most venture capitalists and angel investors wait for entrepreneurs to struggle through the ideation process before they commit to investing. Rather than funding innovation at what I call “phase zero,” these investors focus primarily on scaling up, acquisitions, and mergers. Design is possibly the best-equipped discipline for addressing the open-ended questions encountered at phase zero, and for reinventing the ways people consume on a scale of billions. However, the funding of internal corporate departments and consulting firms is currently insufficient to support the type of innovation that is necessary—on top of which, designers may not yet be ready to take on problems of this magnitude. An additional difficulty regarding funding is its increasing contingency on impact. Foundations are redesigning their business models to attract new types of investors, such as angel investors and venture capitalists. In doing so, they are learning that giving money without insisting on accountability and results may lead to undesirable consequences. From operating primarily in a philanthropic capacity, foundations are moving toward demanding specific outcomes, despite the fact that adopting this venture-capitalist mindset may actually conflict with their original mission and vision. Similarly, venture capitalists and angel investors are beginning to put criteria of social development or social return on their investments—but by which standards is this social impact to be measured? DESIGN, SOCIAL ACTIVISM, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP How can the motivation of social activists be leveraged through design in ways that increase the power and durability of their influence? How can entrepreneurs more effectively tap the energy and creativity within developing-nation communities, creating wealth and raising living standards across all layers of the social “pyramid”?

Numerous entrepreneurs are currently involved in BR IC markets, and many of them may be finding good solutions to problems such as these. However, most are working too slowly and on too small a scale to respond adequately to the complexities they face. Scaling up the individual work of these entrepreneurs is a major challenge. It’s important that an abundance of entrepreneurs exists. But what is equally important is that we nurture them by developing and orchestrating systems for collective work, open innovation, and collaboration among individuals from corporations or organizations with similar aims. Design can help advance that agenda. DESIGNING FOR BIODIVERSITY How might the enormous biodiversity in developing countries such as India, China, and Brazil become a source of broader-based prosperity through the development of local, small-scale production units? Can we achieve sustainable scale through the development of well-networked, small-scale productionto-consumption systems, while at the same time preserving the social fabric and cultural heritage of the communities in question? And how can design contribute to this process?

The ways companies produce, outsource, and distribute products now have global implications.

CONCLUSION Asking questions like these is a first step toward developing a systematic, replicable, and reliable technology of innovation that will allow us to measure and improve solutions. As we consider the role of design in the context of global value chains, this inquiry forms the basis for the development of models that can be disseminated and appropriated, furthering our ability to train, educate, and innovate.

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OVERVIEW OF THIS VOLUME This issue of The Journal of Design Strategies examines recent convergences of design practices, entrepreneurship, activism, philanthropy and venture capital in emerging markets around the world. Section 1 includes a transcript of the Design Strategies Dialogue held at Parsons in October, 2011, a panel discussion involving three leading figures

Investors are beginning to put criteria of social development or social return on their investments—but by which standards is this social impact to be measured? who are working to promote these convergences: Sonia Manchanda, co-founder of Idiom Design Consulting in Bangalore, India, and co-developer of an open source innovation platform called DR E A M:I N ; João Tezza Neto, Director of Science and Technology at the Brazilian nonprofit organization Sustainable Amazon Foundation and developer of a payment system that quantifies the value of environmental services benefitting local residents of that Brazilian state; and Lou Yongqi, Associate Professor and Vice Dean of the College of Design & Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. Manchanda and Neto each also contributed a separate article detailing their respective endeavors; for his part, in the panel discussion Professor Lou presented an update of his Chongming EcoCommunity Project, which aims at revitalizing rural villages in China (and which was extensively described in a previous issue of this Journal).1 What these three have in common is their vision and strategic capacity to design innovative value chains leveraging local and global capabilities in order to create well balanced, socially responsible, and sustainable production-to-consumption systems in some 1 Lou Yongqi and Clarisa Diaz, of the world’s rapidly “Enabling Society: New Design Processes in China; The Case emerging markets. of Chongming,” The Journal of Design Strategies Vol. 4 No. 1, Spring 2010.


Section 2 details four recent projects of designers working in developing-world contexts. In the first, Haian Xue, doctoral candidate and design researcher in the Department of Design at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, and Martin Wooley, Associate Dean of Research in England’s Coventry School of Art and Design, describe efforts to revitalize an iconic bicycle brand in China through a design-based appeal to Chinese consumers’ nostalgia. Manuela Celi, industrial designer and researcher in the department of Industrial Design, Arts, Communication and Fashion at Milan Polytechnic; Roberto Iñiguez Flores, Associate Dean of Architecture and Design at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Guadalajara, Mexico; and Laura Mata García, PhD candidate at Milan Polytechnic and visiting researcher at Aalto University, outline the process and results of a case study they conducted in Guadalajara that sought to identify ways design can help valorize and leverage the territorial resources of Mexico in locally owned handcraft and furniture design firms. Architects and design researchers Serena Alcamo, Daniela Bosco, and Valeria Federighi present the results of extensive research conducted on the often highly creative but frequently undervalued use of “informal” (non- or quasi-legal) space within the Mumbai slum of Dharavi. Finally, Rebecca Rubens, industrial designer and PhD candidate in the Design for Sustainability subprogram at the Technical University of Delft, outlines a design methodology oriented toward collaborative, sustainable innovation that she is developing, and describes a complex, 14-day workshop that she organized with local craftspeople in Ahmedabad, India, as a trial and application of the methodology. Taken together, the diversity of these initiatives and cases shows that, just as the countries on which they focus represent some of the most rapidly emerging markets in the world today, so too do they exhibit an emergence of new theories and methods by which sustainable innovation will be understood and actualized in the coming decades. And they show that designers have much to contribute to this process.

Carlos Teixeira Guest Editor, The Journal of Design Strategies Volume 6


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Design strategies Dialogue: sonia Manchanda, joĂŁo tezza neto, and lou Yongqi MoDeraTors:

Bruce nussbaum and carlos Teixeira

figure 1: Lou Yongqi.



In order to build expertise on the topic of “Designing for Billions,” in October 2011 Parsons’ School of Design Strategies hosted a day-long symposium at its New York City campus. Three distinguished guest speakers—designers Sonia Manchanda from India and Lou Yongqi from China along with Brazilian economist João Tezza Neto—were invited to present their unique innovation strategies combining design, management, entrepreneurship, education, finance, activism, and public policy, framing these strategies as responses to the unprecedented scale and speed at which social and economic transformation is happening in the world’s emerging markets. In addition to presenting individual reports, the three invited guests also participated in a panel discussion organized and moderated by Carlos Teixeira and Bruce Nussbaum, faculty

Something happens when you talk to people about their aspirations: they become more focused. members at Parsons. Central to their discussion was the DR E A M:I N project, a design-driven open innovation platform developed by Manchanda and Teixeira. The DR E A M:I N initiative challenges the notion that future thinking should be informed by people’s needs, instead seeking to explore and leverage people’s dreams. The project launched in India in January 2011, when a total of 101 college-age “Dream Catchers” traveled with their mentors some 25,000 kilometers across the country, capturing on video the aspirations of thousands of ordinary Indians. One month later, the DR E A M:I N project brought together 30 national and international leaders to help develop a vision for India through design. During a four-day “conclave” in Bangalore, thousands of Indians’ dreams were discussed, analyzed, and grouped by entrepreneurs, business leaders, design and creative thinkers, venture capitalists, policy makers, and financiers, in order to propose transformative changes for India. The DR E A M:I N conclave sought to bring global design expertise to bear in fulfilling the shared dreams of Indian locals.

The intention was to create intersections among the dreams of diverse individuals and the thoughts and actions of leaders across a range of sectors. In 2012, the project was replicated in Brazil, in partnership with six universities. BRUCE NUSSBAUM I attended the DR E A M:I N conclave in India and was swept away by its energy and enthusiasm. It was frame-changing. Our established methodologies and ideas of design thinking have been the paradigm for over a decade, but in India there’s a different methodology. For one thing, students—traditionally ignored in grand design projects because they’re still in training—are unleashed and become an essential part of the process. Looking at dreams as opposed to needs is a brilliant breakthrough. Something happens when you talk to people about their aspirations. Ask people what their needs are, and they’ll give you a list; ask them about their dreams, and they may only have one or two—they become more focused. Compared to needs, dreams are very important to people. I find that incredibly powerful, and hugely optimistic. By winnowing those dreams down to just a few, you can begin, as we did, to come up with plans to fulfill them. The process becomes simplified, open, and can be done on a huge scale. In an era so often suffused with negativity, this model represents a rethinking and a reframing that’s essentially hopeful. However, as wonderful, provocative, and thoughtful as dreaming may be, we’ve yet to realize those dreams. What are the major obstacles you see in executing your plans? What happens next? Who’s going to resist and who’s going to help? What do you expect to see in the next two years? Lou, let’s start with you.

The difference between dreams and needs becomes very clear when we talk to the villagers we engage in our design projects. If we ask them, “What do you need?” they might say, “Maybe I need a bottle of wine.” But when we ask, “What is your dream?” the answer is much more systemic and holistic— they dream of a better life, for example, or for their son to come back to the village and live with them.


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The program I’m working on now in the rural areas around Shanghai1 is at least a 20year project, and we’re just at the beginning. Right now, we’re finding that people are supportive and collaborative in communicating their dreams, but the project is still at a virtual, naïve stage. How will attitudes change when we begin to take concrete action? The people who live in these rural communities are very poor, earning about 150 Euros per year. They grow what they eat, and they live a highly sustainable life in harmony with the laws of nature. According to the social scientists on our team, they weren’t interested in nightlife because it wasn’t part of their culture. Then a solar- and wind-powered road lamp was installed that provided free electricity. Suddenly, people began to socialize in the evenings. They were so poor that they couldn’t pay for electricity, but once it was free it changed their way of living. Maybe it’s changing their dreams, as well. Turning to Brazil, João, how do the people you’re working with express their dreams?

a green direction and paid significantly for it. We seem to be incapable of planning for the long term. In my country, where there’s currently a huge dispute between agribusiness and forest preservationists, we need lawmakers to step in and regulate the situation, which I believe can happen in my lifetime. Sonia, what are the most common dreams you’ve collected from the thousands of people you’ve talked to in India? Has your analysis yielded any patterns?


One of our most significant insights was discovering how we keep the people at the bottom of the pyramid down there. Things that are easy for us are difficult for them. We heard stories like, “I wanted to be a pilot, but my father got sick, and now I’m selling drums on the street.” There’s a line on the pyramid, and if you cross it, you’re home. But if you haven’t crossed it, you can be very easily pushed down.



JOÃO TEZZA NETO In order to connect with people, you need to understand both their dreams and their real needs. This isn’t easy, because you bring your own background and understanding. In a sense, discovering people’s dreams is about discovering how we can connect with each other. My personal dream is to live in a world where people’s sense of self comes from what they do and how they live, not just from what they consume. I think this is possible, but it’s going to be a very long process. More specifically, in terms of our present work, my dream is to see the environment valued on a par with economic value. For this to happen, the government needs to make some adjustments. From 1 Lou Yongqi and Clarisa Diaz, a political perspective, “Enabling Society: New Design this can be difficult; Processes in China; The Case of Chongming,” The Journal of Barack Obama tried Design Strategies Vol. 4 No. 1, to move legislation in Spring 2010.


All dreams ultimately come back to the same thing: how am I going to educate my kids? The result is that even simple dreams can be impossible to realize. We met one boy who was as smart as the young people who work at Idiom. He wants to be an engineer, but instead he repairs electrical boards. That’s a scary job for a child. Most likely, his parents are also common laborers, and anything could happen to them. There’s so little value placed on lives such as theirs. There’s a trend now where people who have perhaps lived only in the West want to come to India and work with the villagers, the downtrodden. Naturally, they bring their attitude and their particular knowledge with them. In their honest eagerness to make a difference, they can bring about the loss of

Figure 2: Panelists with Bruce Nussbaum.

indigenous ways, which thankfully still exist in India, and it can be hard to un-change that. If these Westerners could focus on people’s dreams rather than their needs, they could have the meaningful conversation that’s needed. I think it was clear in India that most dreams there involve a lack of access to the basic infrastructure of modern life—security, jobs, education—that the developed world takes for granted. In the U.S., most people know that someone is going to pay for them to live, at least until college. That’s seldom the case in India. There, common dreams focus on the security, health, and above all the education that enable one to have a life. All dreams ultimately come back to the same thing: how am I going to educate my kids?


In other words, I don’t want my children to have the same life that I had. Can they grow up a little bit better?


CARLOS TEIXEIRA What sort of organizational models are needed to address this issue? The organizations involved in the projects we’re discussing aren’t simply private design offices; they’re complex, hybrid organizations. Tektao, Lou’s firm in China, for example, is intimately connected to a public university. Fundação Amazonas Sustentável (the Sustainable Amazon Foundation) works with entities ranging from the World Bank and the Brazilian Development Bank to private banks, universities, and individual citizens. In such multifaceted partnerships, what happens to intellectual property? Who owns the ideas and ventures that come out of these dreams? And how can governance be structured within complex organizations to deal with the logistical and social challenges inherent in attempting to design for billions?

The Sustainable Amazon Foundation is an alliance between government and large corporations. This presents certain difficulties. On the one hand, government lacks the flexibility and capillarity to respond to the


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project’s participatory process, in which we provide a budget and the communities themselves choose how to invest. Corporations, for their part, in addition to being risk-averse, require an enormous amount of transparency and accountability. The alliance began because the government, recognizing the need to evaluate the forests and preserve a balance in the face of agribusiness’ growing role in forest management, turned to corporations for their help. That was a difficult decision politically, as is the ongoing delegation of responsibilities that the alliance requires. One innovative way we’ve worked with various factions is through the formation of a foundation council made up of representatives from government, the private sector, and social movement organizations. The council has absolute sovereignty over the foundation, which itself maintains political neutrality. This mechanism has been hugely successful, and the technology is currently being exported to Mozambique, Peru, and elsewhere. But government involvement was the necessary first step.

Who owns the ideas and ventures that come out of these dreams? It’s important too to note that the models institutions adopt for governance vary based on their particular social, cultural, and economic situation. One of the biggest problems we find in many Chinese universities is that even as investment is made into new building, they don’t budget enough for professors’ salaries. Because of this, most professors at the colleges where I teach need to have a second job at their own practice. My studio differs from most in that four years ago I established an independent research unit made up of students and a fulltime international staff. This provided the structure to support my own dream of building connections between rural and urban



societies. Since then, my vision has changed from a business model of merely providing services, which may be expendable depending on clients’ needs, to one of providing holistic solutions. This changes the nature of the relationship between the designer and the stakeholder. If I work for you, I have to give you want you want; if we’re partners, we have equal footing. This enables design to take a much more proactive form. Different structures can also be a response to different ways of doing things, much of which is cultural. Typically, the Western way is to devise a road map of budget and participants, and to realize that plan step by step. In China, on the other hand, there’s a belief that chaos fosters creativity and innovation, so we start with efforts to motivate possibilities. It’s an active process, like boiling water. Only then do we begin to think about how to structure and manage our ideas to move them forward. For example, my university recently signed an agreement with Aalto University in Finland to create a double master’s degree program in International Design Business Management (IDBM ). But the agreement actually stated that the program had already begun. As I explained to my colleagues at Aalto: “If we’re ready, we’ll start it. But if we’re not ready, we’ll start it.” In other words, if we wait until everything is ready, it will never happen. “Everything” is never ready. This ties in, I think, to the issue of intellectual property. Illegal copying is, of course, a major industry in China, where it’s known as the sanzhai culture. While I don’t encourage the practice, I do believe that it offers certain benefits, and in fact we recently organized a discussion on that very topic. Sanzhai is actually a good example of how business and creation and science and technology can combine in a positive way. For instance, one sanzhai manufacturer recently developed a copy of a mobile phone designed for the elderly, but they altered the chip to create enhanced functionality for

visual impairment. In this case, innovation isn’t about creating something from scratch, but rather about building upon that which already exists in order to develop solutions. We discovered, in our efforts to find a model for DR E A M:I N , that many businesses have adopted a hybrid structure, with one part designed for integrity and another part for skill. Typically, a not-forprofit is not designed for skill. Similarly, a for-profit runs the risk of losing its integrity, of selling its soul. The balance we struck in DR E A M:I N turns out to be an interesting emerging model. MANCHANDA

Part of what the DR E A M:I N project is doing is creating a large database that gives people access to billions of dreams. But you don’t have control over how this information will be received and utilized. Someone with resources and know-how could activate and monetize a dream very quickly. What happens then?

and funding, we clearly need to consider the different cultures involved. In some countries, such as Brazil and China, the government funds a lot of these activities through the taxpayers. That’s not going to happen in the U.S. Similarly, many American and European models simply don’t hold in cultures like those of India, China, and Brazil. Even the notion of intellectual property itself is a Western one. When I asked Professor Lou how to pronounce his last name, he replied that his family name comes first. That says it all. In America, it’s about my name, who I am. It may be a generalization, but in a culture that emphasizes the family name and social group, the idea of intellectual property doesn’t have the same charge.


The DR E A M:I N project is voluntary. Just as someone who has an idea might send it out to venture capitalists, DR E A M:I N users who upload their dreams do so knowing that they might be picked up. Whether their dream is enterprise related or they dream of access to safe drinking water for their newborn child, they make the choice to upload it because there is the possibility of benefit.

We need to recognize the immensity of what needs to happen between the dream and the implementation.


TEIXEIRA We need to recognize, too, the immensity of what needs to happen between the dream and the implementation. That’s where design comes in. Transforming ideas into business models that are part of a global supply chain requires innovation technology. In the case of Amazonas Sustentável, for example, the idea may not be particularly novel, but the implementation needs to be on an immense scale. Involving 7,000 families in three years is impressive, but we don’t have the technology to expand that to a scale of billions. As we begin to develop these models and deal with challenges of intellectual property, governance,

AUDIENCE MEMBER 2 In countries such as India and China, there’s a huge disparity between the richest and the poorest, much of which is based on inherited socio-cultural and religious legacies. Have you made efforts to talk with policymakers and others in power about the caste system, for example, or to educate people about changing the social system?

In India, when someone walks into the room and serves you tea, you don’t even make eye contact with them. So stage one is to identify that person as a human being, to talk with them. With the DR E A M:I N conclave, we made an effort to make that first step with the policymakers in attendance and with the young people who will be tomorrow’s leaders. Each year, we intend to scale this up and keep reminding them. We also created a newsletter focusing on some of the insights gained in this journey, which has reached both the Planning Commission and the National Innovation Council. MANCHANDA

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Changing these attitudes is critical. Our government is in crisis. They’re facing huge credibility issues. Interestingly, this government and party took over from the British, and like those imperial rulers they’ve never understood the lower class; recently, they declared that anyone earning a dollar a day is not poor. Clearly, effecting change is going to take a lot of independent work. AUDIENCE MEMBER 2 As much as it’s important to understand what people dream, I think it’s also important to encourage them to keep dreaming and to help them determine whether there’s any possibility their dream could come true. Once you collect your data, do you make an effort to help people stay focused?

We consider this project a prototype, and many questions remain. However, we have developed ongoing relationships with some of the dreamers. We invited one woman


Figure 3: Bruce Nussbaum and Sonia Manchanda.


from the State of Haryana to be part of the conclave alongside India’s major leaders. She had started a wrestling academy for women— this in a state where women don’t even have the most basic rights. Bringing individual dreamers to the conclave in this way was not something we had planned, but it was what the dream catchers wanted. Additionally, there are dreams posted on Vimeo. We haven’t publicized them, but clearly they’re circulating and people we meet are talking about them and finding them inspiring. We believe that as we go about finding dreams, we must also demonstrate their realization. Some ventures are already in progress. For example, there are a large number of women in the State of Kerala called Gulf widows, whose husbands have abandoned them, died, or been detained while working in the Gulf states of West Asia. These women are now having a hard time being accepted

back at home, but some success stories have emerged, including one woman who started a school. Covering these stories is a way to give hope back to a lot of people and is one of the many aspects of the program that are still emerging.

More and more designers are moving back to the startup and entrepreneurialism. That leads us to different concepts: things like aura, calling, and charisma, that come with starting new companies, and also come with dreams. AUDIENCE MEMBER 3 I was recently at Davos, where one of the conference themes was frugal innovation. If one defines frugal innovation as designing with less for more people, isn’t designing for billions an example? How does this concept intersect with entrepreneurship? For example, a refrigerator that opens on the top has been designed for the rural poor of India. It’s not the elegant design of a Steve Jobs; rather, it’s designed to meet people’s needs. In a country where on the one hand 46 percent of children suffer from malnutrition, and on the other there are more billionaires with money in Switzerland than there are in the rest of the world combined, what is the meaning of needs versus dreams? In sum, do you view yourselves as avatars of post-design thinking, if there is such a thing? Is frugal innovation a part of it? And do you think you represent a new morality in design?

It’s clear that part of what we’re talking about is the fracturing of a decade-old paradigm. The world is changing dramatically. The 90s seemed ever prosperous, ever soaring, and ever good—but that turned out to be a smoke screen. Our ideas that were built on that notion have to change.

China, India, Europe, and the U.S. are all struggling with similar problems of growing inequality, based on a market system that we mistakenly thought was providing economic value on a large scale. Instead, we now see economic value going to just a small number of people. Dreams of mobility and a widening middle class are quite limited now. One of the things that strikes me about this in terms of design is the turn toward entrepreneurial capitalism. More and more designers are moving away from a focus solely on large corporations and large organizations and back to the startup and entrepreneurialism. That leads us to different concepts: things like aura, calling, and charisma, that come with starting new companies, and also come with dreams. Think of the kiosks found in many city streets where you can get Internet service. Those could become spaces for classrooms, distance learning, and digital learning. They could offer greater flexibility and accessibility than full-time classrooms, with varied fee structures. We’ve already launched numerous discussions concerning business plans like these, for realizing those broken dreams. Countries and cultures today are facing similar problems around the world. Finding new ideas and models to solve those problems is the future of creativity and design. Design innovation is about finding entirely new ways to do things. It’s about low carbon, low energy, intelligent buildings, and intelligent transport. Areas such as transport desperately need new design, but the technologies that have emerged, such as the Segway, have been thwarted by cultural inertia, often aided by lobbies to prevent change. Happily, the next generation is involved in projects, activities, and ideas that, while small themselves, have the power to make qualitative leaps and transform society in major ways.



Creating new ideas such as better means of transport sometimes means going back to the root of the problem. China’s one-child policy was intended to counter the population explosion that took place under Chairman


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Mao, when women were encouraged to reproduce. While the policy has been widely criticized, and certainly caused generational harm, more people seem to be recognizing that China was one of the only countries to take positive action toward population control. The question of ethics comes into play in many of the problems we face, such as sustainability. Who are the representatives? Who determines what’s just? We may go into rural areas with good intentions and a vision of social innovation, but do we really have the right to create these projects? Are we certain that we’re going in the right direction? Do the people we’re working with, especially the poor, actually want to work with us? They may be more interested in an immediate return than they are in planning for the long term. How can we combine short-term goals with strategic vision? One way is to involve both more people and a wider range of stakeholder groups. One positive result of this work is that we are motivating people to willingly take responsibility. This willingness extends to sustainability. We can promote a state in which we are willing to give things up. In other words, we can believe that we need a big car and a big house and that having these things is our human right; alternatively, we can say we don’t want these things, that we’re willing to give them up, and that we’re still happy. This is one of the things design can do, and in fact it’s embedded in our project. These are entirely new ways to think about design innovation.



If we are to discuss sustainability within the boundaries of the relationship of economy and environment, we must first understand the concept of finite natural resources. When Adam Smith wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations—at a time when economics had begun to take on the features of a science independent of philosophy—society was undergoing a turning point marked by a series of revolutions: industrial, transport, medical, and agricultural. More recently, these have been joined by the digital revolution. Under the effects of these movements, the planet’s human population, which took millennia to reach 500 million, reached more than six billion in only 250 years. What happened, from a doctrinal point of view? What religious, political, philosophical, pedagogical, and economic systems formed the values that have led to our “super success” as a species? Those beliefs and methods drove a magnificent

What belief system should we adopt in order to establish a new relationship between human society and nature? advance in our technical ability to transform natural resources into consumer products. However, even as we have started to reflect on the consequences of our actions, we have failed to pay sufficient attention to the finitude of resources. Is this a philosophical or scientific failure of modern economic theory? Certainly, the concept of scarce resources, so central to economic explanation, is not the same as finite resources. Could there be another doctrinal dimension to the development of

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economics that would not have culminated in current patterns of predatory hyperconsumption? And if so, what belief system should we adopt in order to establish a new relationship between human society and nature? Economics has not attached value to the environment beyond that related to the effort to acquire it or the interest in using it. It may be that this mistake is at the root of one of the most crucial assumptions of contemporary economic doctrine: that “growth,” i.e. increasing consumption, is the ultimate goal of economic policymaking. If we consider its own parameters, the prevailing economic doctrine has been extremely efficient: it made us arrive quickly at our planetary population of six billion while avoiding the catastrophic famine envisioned by Thomas Malthus. With these Malthusian limits to population growth overcome —due in part, perhaps, to his sounding of the alarm—the idea that human society will always be able to generate sufficient progress and innovation to meet the challenges of resource scarcity became a backdrop assumption of twentiethcentury civilization, all but universally held and therefore rarely challenged.

Economics has not attached value to the environment beyond that related to the effort to acquire it or the interest in using it. Today, the phenomenon of climate change is showing us a new reality. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ), human activity on earth is causing irreversible changes in the planet’s climate balance. But have we amended the idea that progress and innovation will allow us to circumvent scarcity and ensure well-being, in light of this unprecedented challenge? Not with anything like the seriousness of purpose that is required. As Albert Einstein famously said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level


of thinking we were at when we created them.” So too, solutions to problems caused by our interaction with the environment depend on behavioral changes, and so require a doctrinal transformation. That is, to solve the impasse between society and the environment we need to reconsider the impact of our population on the “spaceship” called Earth and adopt different assumptions and values. Return to the paradoxical modernity of Adam Smith, who concludes The Theory of Moral Sentiments with ideas on what he calls the corruption of the sentiments, caused by our willingness to admire the rich and ignore and neglect the poor. Is this what drives our search for wealth far beyond the consumption of the truly useful? Is it the approval, admiration, and attention of others that we want? Parallel to this, consider the environmentalist solution, which is very much associated with the idea of constraint: for companies, restrictions and regulation; for consumers, less consumption and less spending. In political terms, this proposal is dark and uninviting, the opposite of abundance and enjoyment. As Ricardo Arnt argues in What Economists Think About Sustainability, if these perceptions are correct, what motivation do we have to change them? Brazilian economist Eduardo Giannetti da Fonseca explains the dilemma as follows: the heroic act (which is based on action) should, or could, give way to the contemplative act (which is based on harmony), before the illusory complex of happiness. If we consider this transition inevitable, the question then has more to do with freedom and rights. Given the finitude of resources and our inability to find technological answers for the environmental externalities of our activity, restrictions could come either in the form of change in the relative prices of products, thus reducing access, or by imposed determinations of command and control. So we are in the presence of a decision concerning freedom. In either case, if we assume that a doctrinal change is necessary, we must take into account the time required for transition. Given that these changes are not likely to begin and end within one generation, what is our role? To name a few possibilities: We could prioritize educational processes that encourage awareness of

Figure 1: Swimming with the pink river dolphins, Rio Negro, Amazonas.

the new reality. We could look at legislative possibilities to address the need to establish a new modus operandi while at the same time retaining to some extent the viability of established interests. We could promote the valorization of civil society as a venue for actions that, if not capable of offering societywide solutions, bear within them the seed of a paradigm shift. Thus even small actions, added together over a certain period, could produce a qualitative social and doctrinal leap able to put human society and the environment on a more even balance. THE AMAZON IN THE CONTEXT OF THE NEW ECONOMY Perhaps no place is as representative and emblematic of the debate on economic and environmental issues as the Amazon rainforest. If forest is understood to comprise water, air, biodiversity, and climatic movement, the Amazon is a forest in the widest sense. It is the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, and

even though 60 percent of the biome is in Brazil, it reaches into eight other countries. Its economic value to society remains uncalculated. The environmental services of tropical forests form the basis of both our food and our energy supplies—two immutable pillars of human sustenance. As noted by Brazil’s former environment minister José Carlos Carvalho, “The limits of agricultural production will be established by the lack of water and not of land.” In the case of Brazil, the continental rainfall system pumped from tropical forests assures the supply of hydroelectric power and contributes significantly to the competitiveness of agribusiness. Although it is theoretically possible to calculate such services, the diffuse character of this exchange violates the logic of market economies, which seek to determine prices through the workings of an open market free of government interference. Moreover, the full range of potential benefits to

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society that the Amazon represents is in principle unknowable. Losing biodiversity means losing an inspiring source of processes, structures, forms, fibers, and medical substances. The cost of this loss in potential value is literally incalculable. Like other tropical forests, then, the Amazon is fundamentally involved both in maintaining climatic balance, and is also a source of special products and services related to biotechnology. Related to this, what is the role of the Amazon in the challenge of finding new solutions for new problems? I refer here to issues relevant in the medium and long term; in the short term, the forest is still losing ground to the agricultural frontier, in a continuation of traditional models of social and economic organization of production and concomitant domination of species. Today, economic agents look to forests with the same perspective as did man in his early efforts to subdue and exploit nature. Domestication opened the door for uniformity, as well as for increased intensity and quantity of production, and was the beginning of a sedentary society that finds its culmination in the industrial revolution and the use of fossil energy. Either we abandon this second stage or we will continue to witness deforestation, the loss of the potential of biodiversity, and accelerating climate change.

Perhaps no place is as representative and emblematic of the debate on economic and environmental issues as the Amazon rainforest.

Given the Amazon’s essential role as a source of energy and food, deforestation directly threatens the security and prosperity of society, Brazilian and beyond. How, then, do we promote conservation while also increasing the quality of life of the forestdwelling population? This question, both political and practical, addresses the need to establish a process for truly inclusive forestry conservation and production that generates income and is able


Figure 2: A house on the Rio Negro.

Figure 3: Flooded forest in Amazonas.

to cover the opportunity cost of the various options offered by deforestation. From the standpoint of design, in order to organize production logically and sustainably in an environment of biodiversity, it is necessary to develop revolutionary new models for establishing enterprises. The extractive model currently in use still enacts the productive logic of the golden period of rubber, that is, of at least one hundred years ago. Whereas, during that same period, agricultural production techniques developed in geometric progression and were the focus of major public and private investment, the extractive forestry economy remains rudimentary to this day, and is therefore unable to generate sufficient value for true social inclusion and wealth creation. The development of a sustainable forestry economy, truly competitive and thus self-protected,

depends essentially on large volumes of investment to solidify the links of the supply chain and provide security for enterprises. When the system of public funding for technical, scientific, institutional, structural, and financial development prioritizes sustainable forestry projects, we will witness an enormous economic advance, following new production parameters aligned to the requirements of the new economy. On what principles should the efficiency of this system be evaluated? The model should suggest an architecture that takes maximum advantage of aspects inherent to extractive production, such as complex seasonality and biodiversity. What this means is that the productive process must comply with multiple dynamics within nature and be prepared to perform a variety of processes serving a variety of market segments (SEE FIGURE 4). Seasonality permits working with different supply chains throughout the year, increasing the chances of generating profits for the families of extractive producers; similarly, diversity of processes, combined with biodiversity, permits scaling across the production range in order to serve more than one market segment. Ideally, enterprise positioning should be in the supply of organic, as opposed to conventional, products and ingredients. It is also preferable that these various products provide differentiated functions for



consumption, related to environmental, social, and nutraceutical assets. With this positioning, certification becomes increasingly necessary to ensure an appropriate classification of enterprises within the green economy.

The extractive forestry economy remains rudimentary to this day, and is therefore unable to generate sufficient value for true social inclusion and wealth creation. For the economic order to have a minimum of logic, one needs to consider the origin of the model’s initial energy—which, translated into the practical world, means a funding source. We could add the word ideal here, asking: what would be the ideal source of financing for a green economy—one that avoids deforestation and generates resources for well-being? The ideal source would be one that was at the heart of the new economic concepts, one that ultimately seeks to find a way to conserve nature

process diversity

segment diversity

natural supply




different sources


medical substances






energy sanitation clothing

FIGURE 4: Aspects of the forestry supply chain combining seasonality and biological diversity of processes and segments.

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Figure 5: The Rio Negro, Amazonas.

by establishing a relationship between value and people’s well-being. It happens that environmental services, as well as not appearing on our menu of prevailing values, have a diffuse nature and therefore present difficulties in finding their price in a market economy. The greater the objectivity about who gives and who receives, the better it will be for price definition. Even if it is possible to list some major and successful initiatives in the economic valuation of environmental services in different parts of the world, in the Amazon difficulties arise in proportion to the size of its territory and its importance. The biome—and by extension its conservation—is one of the mainstays of the Brazilian economy, and the existing forest code looks almost exclusively to promote the interests of agribusiness. Among the various options for economic valuation of environmental services offered by the Amazon rainforest—the rain cycle, water, biodiversity, and scenic beauty, to name a few—the possibilities closest to being realized with real economic


robustness are those related to carbon stocks, which as we shall see, can function as a kind of financial stabilizer for the system. What are the ramifications in terms of wealth and forest conservation? Any analysis of forest opportunity cost versus agribusiness must take into account opportunity cost for the entire country, not just one specific place. We need to look at the region as a whole and apply the national average rate of productivity over the territory being preserved in order to make a valid comparison. We can also make the comparison based on productivity goals for the agricultural sector of the country by projecting the forest productivity goal for the same period, with carbon stocks as a stabilizer of the funding system. This is where discussions about the U N program known as R EDD (Reducing Emissions of Greenhouse Gases resulting from Deforestation and Degradation) come into play. While several issues remain to be resolved related to national and international policies, financing mechanisms (markets and funds), baselines, leaks,

and legislative basis, R EDD must be viewed as a unique opportunity to find an economic source for conservation. REDD AS FINANCING ALTERNATIVE FOR THE NEW FOREST ECONOMY According to the U N Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2000 tropical forests accounted for a stock of 200 billion tons of carbon; in 2005 deforestation accounted for about 17 percent of carbon emissions worldwide. In Brazil, however, land use activities, especially deforestation, account for up to 70 percent of Brazilian emissions, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

With the BRIC countries generating an ever-increasing share of total global emissions, their historic responsibility must come in the form of funding for a low-carbon economy. In the face of these numbers, we cannot dispense with an approach that maximizes R EDD opportunities to confront one of the major challenges of contemporary society. How much does it cost to structure a new economy based on the products and services of tropical forests? This figure becomes our reference number, the cost required to keep a certain amount of carbon stock “sequestrated” i.e. out of the country’s production systems, as an essentially transitional move 1 The Bolsa Floresta program toward a low-carbon was designed by a multidiscisociety. plinary team encompassing governmental and nongovThe potential for ecoernmental organizations, led nomic robustness that by the former Secretary of State for the Environment and exists in ideas based on Sustainable Development of Amazonas, Virgilio Viana. The R EDD depends primarprogram, which compensates ily on methodological local communities in the State of Amazonas for refraining choices, which in turn from deforestation, is adminare related to political istered by the Sustainable Amazon Foundation. choices. What is the

baseline in terms of economic policy, considering aspects of international relations such as trade and sovereignty—in other words, in the reality of programs and projects? From the point of view of economic policies, what does the effort to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation represent? What are the risks and what is the cost of such a conversion? With the BR IC countries generating an ever-increasing share of total global emissions, their historic responsibility must come in the form of funding for a lowcarbon economy. In the Brazilian context this will need to involve solutions related to tropical forests and their management. Regardless of the compensatory mechanisms required under the Kyoto Protocol, forest carbon credits derived from R EDD are well received in the voluntary carbon markets, as verified by the Sustainable Amazon Foundation. This phenomenon in a way confirms that companies are interested in aligning themselves with consumers’ expectations regarding the environment. Beyond the straightforward but somewhat abstract goal of carbon sequestration, the “charisma” of forest credit within the market is also based on the relationship of the carbon credits to the preservation of fauna, flora, and scenic beauty as well as its promotion of social development in Amazon riverine communities. Because of this, forest carbon credit schemes are assuming an importance that goes beyond their compensatory effect on emissions: such schemes may well become an element that gathers and represents a whole range of additional environmental products and services. In this context—and inspired by Samuel Benchimol’s pioneering ideas on the economic valorization of the Amazon—a forest sponsorship program called Programa Bolsa Floresta (PBF ) was born. In an absolutely innovative manner it addressed the conservation of the Amazon as an economic goal, implying that the effort to do so should be remunerated. PAYMENT FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES THROUGH THE PROGRAMA BOLSa FLORESTA (PBF)1 Guided by the practical premise that forest conservation and improved quality of life of riverine communities should be combined, the state government

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of Amazonas instituted the PBF program in 2007 to provide payment for environmental services to local people who benefit from those services, but might otherwise be inclined to realize shortterm gains through deforestation activities. The program, implemented in fifteen protected areas of the Amazon, currently involves 34,000 people and covers over ten million hectares of forest in the Amazon. According to Sustainable Amazon Foundation figures, the initiative involves more than 7,239 families, who are willing to participate actively in the conservation of the forest where they live. This bold, joint effort goes beyond merely providing payment for not clearing trees, to working to build a new forest economy that is competitive, participatory, and income-generating for local people. The PBF payment system operates on multiple dimensions of the inclusive forestry economy, with an architecture structured around four main components:

• Bolsa Floresta Income: encourages a sustainable forest economy by stimulating forest supply chains of specific vocations for each region

• Bolsa Floresta Social: promotes the social development of communities by investing in health, education, transport, and communication

• Bolsa Floresta Association: fosters social empowerment and stimulates associative activity by supporting both small and general meetings of resident associations in protected areas of the state

FIGURE 6: Supply chain of environmental services based on PBF and REDD principles.

The total investment is thus R$1,360/family/ year, with no deduction for transaction costs. The program’s participatory process includes holding meetings with groups and leaders in extremely distant and hard-to-access locations in the Amazon. In return for this support, participants in the voluntary program commit to the following:

• Not increasing clearings in native forest areas. • Managing and controlling fires in clearings. • Keeping their children in school.

• Bolsa Floresta Family: acts directly with each fam-

• Keeping up to date with required dues to the

The investments of each component are indexed by the number of families participating in each protected area in the following amounts:

In effect, then, the PBF seeks to consolidate an investment system capable of providing society with organized, forest-related environmental services. It focuses on building capacity within the local riverine population because it is from this base that the sustainable forest economy is arising, and with it the possibility of offering forest conservation services. Without this investment in, and by, the local people, there is no way to realistically imagine the full development of a cycle of green economy, which

ily participating in the program

• Bolsa Floresta Income: R$350/family/year • Bolsa Floresta Social: R$350/family/year • Bolsa Floresta Association: R$60/family/year • Bolsa Floresta Family: R$600/family/year


protected area’s residents association.

depends on partnerships for new sustainable businesses, along with coordinated legal arrangements, education, and financing. The PBF is a promising initiative in promoting the goals of the U N R EDD program—one that offers commitment, involvement, participation, and social justice with the front-line actors of forest conservation. It thus serves as a primary link in the supply chain of environmental services (SEE FIGURE 6). This figure represents, in simple form, the virtuous cycle that PBF intends to trigger. The primary investment in mobilization is performed in conjunction with the main actors in the conservation effort; this joint effort presupposes capacity building in the social organization of production and environmental sustainability among riverine extractive communities. In sum, the process defined by PBF consolidates a primary supply of environmental services, enabling the secure development of methodologies and financial mechanisms envisioned under R EDD . Interest from markets or investment funds in climate mitigation allows enhanced feedback of the system, thus creating the virtuous cycle of income generation, forest conservation, economic development, and climate mitigation needed to sustain both the forest and the green economy into the future.

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DARING TO DREAM: The Origins of the DREAM:IN Project Sonia Manchanda

Design as a profession has been around longest in the West. Therefore, design practice in India has traditionally looked toward and attempted to follow Western models. However, those models have not always worked well in the Indian context, and successful design consultancies such as Idiom, the firm I helped found in Bangalore in 2005, have been forced to evolve and create their own models as they have learned and articulated their practice over time. As a result, Indian design is coming to be perceived in a whole new way. What follows is an explanation of the process of formulating an entirely new philosophy, practice, and paradigm of design. DESIGN AS PHILOSOPHY Design is first and foremost a philosophy. It’s not about making more things; it’s a way of thinking— a belief system that starts from within and then translates into practice. Because design is a process


of transformation, it is not static, but rather develops with every new connection. Every interaction is an opportunity to prototype our thoughts. Just as philosophy leads to new modes of behavior that have the potential to create new cultures, so every brand or new business we create is itself a new culture. Even before a single thing is produced, designers are subtly codifying a culture in the entrepreneur’s environment. This is the cornerstone of our philosophy at Idiom: to develop ideas with skill, speed, and imagination, moving from mind to market—even if that means leapfrogging several developmental stages—and creating entire new paradigms that help transform lives. We keep this philosophy in mind as we work with the entrepreneurs who walk through our doors with a dream. Through this process, however, we have come to realize that we need to shift our focus, and that of our clients and partners, to encompass the dreams of people everywhere.

FIGURE 1: Idiom headquarters.

In a market where people don’t necessarily understand what design is and what it can do, what we are really creating is a way of thinking, a philosophy that can be passed on. While on the surface we’re being paid for the brands or experiences that we design, what we’re really trying to do is change the way people think. We’re creating believers who are able to generate entirely new thoughts and ideas, unique experiences, sustainable enterprises, and even complete industries. This process begins with insights from the environment and society around us, which translate into game-changing ideas—ones that are simple and bold, vividly detailed, and convincingly delivered. In short, as a philosophy, design can be a catalyst to create lasting value and change. It’s also a process of constant evolution. Design ideas aren’t static. Rather, design’s job is to create, destroy, and re-create—to constantly shed skin in order to become something new. What is important

is that as these ideas evolve they do not lose their soul, as often happens with a brand. In sum, design is life. And as this philosophy becomes practice, it becomes both a set of integrated systems and a constant, organic journey that defines the things we create. So, while we may begin working with a client on a specific and limited project, our work may ultimately include almost anything and everything they need. PHILOSOPHY INFORMS PROCESS AND PRACTICE Infusing practice with this new philosophy is key to influencing clients and their work. The design of the Idiom headquarters itself, for example, is a large, open space like a pond with many ripples. It’s calm but contains pools of disruptive activity (SEE FIGUREs 1–2). A significant client of Idiom is the Future Group, one of India’s major retailers. In response to a brief

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FIGURE 2: Idiom headquarters.

FIGURE 3: Future Group offices.


to design for “disproportionate growth,” Idiom created Future Group’s offices with the organic fluidity of an airport terminal, allowing for change, transition, and development. As the group has matured, it has adopted as its symbol the Sone Ki Chidiya, a golden bird that captures the Indian dream of soaring to great heights (SEE FIGURE 3).1

The DREAM:IN project began with the desire to create a new paradigm for development in India. The Future Group operates from a philosophy of creating value for everyone associated with it. This philosophy is translated into design thinking for the group, interpreted as fresh Indian art on the walls of its workspace, and absorbed by all employees. Those who work for its brand Food Bazaar, for example, are constantly reminded of the local and immigrant women who make up the brand’s target market. In designing some of Future Group’s other retail formats, including its Big Bazaar and Central Mall brands, Idiom studied local markets in order to create spaces where everyone would feel welcome, whether they were arriving in a Mercedes or on a bicycle. Over time, these stores have evolved into local destinations and celebratory environments, where people can find both traditional and modern goods in the same space, where discovery and rediscovery are intrinsic to the shopping process (SEE FIGUREs 4–6). Interesting intersections of tradition and modernity appear in other Idiom projects as well, for example, our work on the rebranding of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education to Manipal University in 2007. Manipal University is an esteemed university located in Manipal, Karnataka, India, with over 20,000 students from over 50 countries. It was founded as India’s first private medical school in 1953. Five years later, the Manipal Institute of Technology was formed. The new 1 A symbol of India before British rule, Sone Ki Chidiya branding grew out of now denotes India’s rich a desire to reorient the cultural past.

FIGUREs 4–5: Future Group’s Big Bazaar.

next Indian generation away from being inspired only by money and material success and toward being inspired by life. This required going back to basics and realizing that most things start from a dream—as well as the determination to refocus on the dream, as the process inevitably becomes complicated or corrupted. In the case of Manipal, its founder, Dr. T. M. A. Pai, was someone who was truly inspired by life. Over the ten years that I have personally been involved with Manipal, it has bloomed into a vibrant education brand with a humanistic core, which is now in the process of being replicated in five local cities and globally as well. India is a country that traditionally does not encourage athletics, yet Manipal University now houses one of Asia’s largest sports centers (SEE FIGURE 7). In short, Manipal is more than a place: it embodies a philosophy of inspiration.

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figure 6: Future Group’s Central Mall.

BirTh of a DreaM The DR E A M:I N project began with the desire to create a new paradigm, a new methodology, and a new system of development for India—one that would be equally relevant elsewhere. The idea was to shift the focus, from design for fulfilling human needs to design for realizing a billion unique dreams. At the center of the project is the insight that even those at the bottom of the pyramid are free to dream.2 It asks the questions, can we see people on an equal footing? Can we have a more dynamic society, with greater social mobility? Can we have a happier world where everybody is fulfilled? We created a plan to bring together different kinds of people—policymakers, entrepreneurs, financial professionals and young people— exposing them all to a new way of thinking, based on the Indian philosophy that the entire universe is within each of us, that there is no depth or height that is not within us, and that by exploring ourselves we are exploring the universe. As we explored this universe within the Indian context, we began to see our role as one of creating a network of connections based on imagination—a collaborative design thinking system to create unique and 2 C.K. Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart, “The Fortune at the sustainable development Bottom of the Pyramid,” for emerging economies, Strategy+Business (2002). in India and beyond.



figure 7: Manipal Marena sports complex.

We engaged students from all over the country, in fields from management to design to film, to travel across India and capture ordinary people’s dreams as videos featuring the compelling personal stories of real people. The students returned with over three thousand dreams. These dreams ranged from making Indian music more accessible through online classes, to owning a sustainable organic farm based on models from around the world, to establishing the world’s number one football team (see figure 8). The field research culminated in a four-day conclave in which the students, design professionals, businesspeople, policymakers, investors, and others worked in multidisciplinary teams to develop venture ideas on the basis of these dreams. Throughout the conference, common dreamers and big dreamers alike had the same platform, and by the end we had all changed (see figure 9). Countries worldwide have expressed interest in adopting the DR E A M:I N methodology. In Brazil, a project called My Green Dreams has been launched. Back in India, a member of parliament from a minority community has requested a project for his constituents, because he believes that the government has taken away their right to dream by making them dependent. To meet this response, we’re in the process of designing opportunities for people around the globe to use the DR E A M:I N methodology through applications, open source software, and online systems that will enable them to record and share their dreams


FIGURE 9: DREAM:IN Conclave.

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FIGURE 10: DREAM:IN collateral.

from anywhere in the world. We envision scenarios where everyone with a dream can find believers and those who can help make that dream a reality. CONCLUSION Everybody has a dream. Everybody has the need to create a legacy. Once you help people move past the fears and anxieties that bury those dreams, their imagination is stirred. They begin to ask themselves, “What would I want for my children, for my society, for my country?” and that hidden seed of a dream is uncovered. The DR E A M:I N methodology, with its combination of ethnography, design research and thinking, film making and scenario creation, can help people get past the assumption that their dreams are impossible (SEE FIGURE 10). It is a way of enabling people to look at their dreams and,


The DREAM:IN methodology, with its combination of ethnography, design research and thinking, film making and scenario creation, can help people get past the assumption that their dreams are impossible. as a next step, to connect with others who will work with them to create ventures out of those dreams. Through this process, we have the opportunity to go beyond designing for billions—or even designing with billions—to foster a landscape of design by billions.


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DESIGN AND NOSTALGIA: Idealized Memory and Strategic Design Innovation in China Haian Xue and Martin Woolley

INTRODUCTION Following three decades of economic reform and emergence, a wave of nostalgia has begun to significantly influence Chinese culture and commerce. This phenomenon can be observed in the extreme popularity of films, television programs, advertisements and products that specifically evoke nostalgic experience, as well as in the sharing, through Internet-based social media, of emotional issues associated with a collective past. Like many of China’s rapidly developing social and cultural trends, this phenomenon most likely originates in the nation’s transition from a strictly planned to a free market economy. How might this movement be engaged within the design process? In what ways can nostalgia-evoking design strategy be utilized in a real-world context?


And what opportunities and risks are involved in deploying nostalgia-based design strategies in China and other emerging markets, as well as the mature market economies of the world? 1 For general information on China, see the public data service of the World Bank at For information on the Reform and Opening policy, see the Gazette of the Eleventh Central Committee of Communist Party of China, available in Chinese at cn/GB/64162/64168/64563/ index.html; see also Michael Dillon, China: A Modern History (London: Tauris, 2008).

2 Fred Davis, Yearning for Yesterday: A Sociology of Nostalgia (New York: Free Press, 1979), 18. 3 Constantine Sedikides, Tim Wildschut, and Denise Baden, “Nostalgia: Conceptual Issues and Existential Functions,” in Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology, ed. Jeff Greenberg (New York: Guilford Publications, 2004), 210; See also Clay Routledge et al., “A Blast from the Past: The Terror Management Function of Nostalgia,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 44, no. 1 (2008).

MARKET POTENTIAL IN CHINA With its relatively recent emergence into the global marketplace, China is an attractive venue for design research projects. The most populous country in the world, China contains one-fifth of the world’s population (over 1.3 billion people), and embraces the major landmass and natural resources of East Asia. It boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an over 9 percent average annual GDP growth rate for the past three decades. Its citizens enjoy much higher personal incomes, better living standards, and more varied consumer choices now than before the 1978 Reform and Opening policy took effect.1 For these reasons, China is currently viewed as the world’s most important emerging market. THE MEANING OF NOSTALGIA The term nostalgia, originally coined to describe a diagnosable disease, has become a topic of fascination among psychologists, sociologists, cultural researchers, marketers, and designers in the postindustrial era. Once considered an intensely negative emotion associated with mourning, sadness, and the loss of a pleasurable past, nostalgia is now more broadly defined as a bittersweet emotion, “infused with imputations of past beauty, pleasure, joy, satisfaction, goodness, happiness, love.”2 Most recent studies regard nostalgia as a mixed emotion, with positive components predominating. Nostalgia plays an important emotional role: by providing “a stock of positive feelings,” for example, it may “ward off external threats or 4 Morris B. Holbrook and Robert M. Schindler, “Nostalgic distressing thoughts. Bonding: Exploring the Role Nostalgia serves three of Nostalgia in the Consumption Experience,” Journal of core existential funcConsumer Behavior 3, no. 2 tions: self-enhancement, (2003), 108. alignment with the 5 See Morris B. Holbrook and cultural worldview, Robert M. Schindler, “Age, Sex, and Attitude toward the Past and the fostering of as Predictors of Consumers’ close relationships. Aesthetic Tastes for Cultural Products,” Journal of Marketing Successful fulfillment Research 31, no. 3 (1994); of one or more of these Robert M. Schindler and Morris B. Holbrook, “Nostalgia for functions contributes Early Experience as a Determi-

to positive affectivity and a state of reassurance, warmth, and security.”3 As an emotion often experienced collectively, nostalgia can manifest as a sociocultural phenomenon triggered by commonly recognized objects— a product, song, or film, for example—that are associated with the past history of a particular group, society, or generation. Sociologists commonly observe nostalgia following periods of disruptive social change, and recognize it as a mechanism that helps people maintain their identities and cope with discontinuities. Besides revolutions and similar social upheavals, today the forces of change are likely to include unconstrained globalization, disruptive technological developments, and increased social and residential mobility.

Sociologists recognize nostalgia as a mechanism that helps people maintain their identities and cope with discontinuities caused by unconstrained globalization, transnational migration, and disruptive technological developments.

Because nostalgia delivers pleasure, it also sells— a fact that has long been used strategically by marketers, advertisers, copywriters, and film directors. The consumer-behavioral aspect of nostalgia has been defined as “a preference (general liking, positive attitude or favorable affect) towards experiences associated with objects (people, places or things) that were more common (popular, fashionable or widely circulated) when one was younger (in early adulthood, in adolescence, in childhood or even before birth).”4 It is widely believed that consumers are more likely to have positive responses to products or brands that evoke nostalgia, and techniques such as age- and gender-related segmentation have been developed to help marketers, brand managers, and advertisers exploit nostalgia systematically.5

nant of Consumer Preferences,” Psychology & Marketing 20, no. 4 (2003).

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THE CURRENT NOSTALGIA WAVE IN CHINA Given the causal relationship between revolution and nostalgia posited by sociologists, it is not surprising that China’s culture, like those in post-socialist Eastern European countries, is currently immersed in a tide of nostalgia. This fact is evident in the increase of highly popular nostalgiaoriented television programs such as The Generation Show, which invites celebrities to answer questions related to Chinese popular culture of the past three decades. Nostalgia for the 1980s and 90s is flooding the Internet, as in the case of Chopsticks Brothers, a pop music and film production group formed by two Chinese “old boys” whose nostalgic short web films and songs received tens of millions of views soon after upload. In the field of contemporary art, nostalgic elements have appeared in numerous settings, including hundreds of art works displayed at Beijing’s 798 Factory, the most active contemporary art zone in China.

Because nostalgia delivers pleasure, it also sells. Although China did not change the existing socialist order as did most post-socialist countries, it has undergone a similar experience socially, culturally, and economically in its transition from a planned to a market economy. The urban post-80s generation—a new, rapidly forming middle class— forms the most impassioned consumer and audience group in the current nostalgia wave, a phenomenon that can be attributed to the life discontinuities caused by this transition and to the group’s idealized memories of childhood in the 1980s and 90s. CHINA’S PLANNED ECONOMY AND TRANSITION China’s planned economy—in which the government regulated production and distribution of consumer goods and closed the door to the Western market economic model—ultimately restricted the nation’s growth, leading to long-term impoverishment. International isolation ended in 1978 with the watershed Reform and Opening program, and in


1992 Deng Xiaoping popularized the concept of the socialist market economy, arguing that the hallmark of socialism is not an economy’s structure but rather whether it optimizes productivity and raises living standards. An accelerated reform phase began, and today, with China’s full market economy status widely recognized, the planned economy is defunct in terms of lifestyle and everyday consumption. Its repercussions, however, clearly remain. Negative consequences of the planned economy system included low income and restricted consumption choices. In 1980, China’s per capita annual income was approximately $280—less than onetenth of the world average—and it ranked as the fourth-poorest country in the world.6 Products such as clothes, food, grain, and sugar could be produced only by state-owned manufacturers following the planning authority’s production plan. With private enterprises forbidden and state-owned factories insufficient for consumption needs, products were rationed, and a seller’s market formed. The purchase of “luxury” goods such as bicycles, watches, and televisions required special coupons generally granted only to leaders and model workers. The products of the few national brands were in short supply, even for those with money; nevertheless, nearly the entire population was familiar with these famous names and dreamed of owning them. Imported products were rare and, like the limited range of products available through regulated, state-owned stores, varied little in function, usage, style, or price. Lacking commercial competition, manufacturers did not design products based on consumer needs and 6 Source: 7 Daniel Z. Ding and Malcolm Warner, “China’s LabourManagement System Reforms: Breaking the ‘Three Old Irons’ (1978-1999),” Asia Pacific Journal of Management 18, no. 3 (2001). 8 David Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 8. 9 Post-1980s or Post-80s is a colloquial term for the generation born between 1980 and 1989 in Mainland China after the implementation of the OneChild policy.

10 Nengmao (能猫) is a brand built on Chinese post-1980s nostalgia. The brand name is a misspelling of the word ‘panda’ (熊猫) in Chinese, a mistake that elementary school children often make when learning basic writing. This brand name and its products are intended to remind Chinese consumers of their childhood. See 11 See reborn.amusegroup. com/index.php?lang=en.

desires but according to state plan. Thus, the same product could be manufactured and sold for decades with few design changes; this likely contributed to their “traditional” status and to the intergenerational awareness that has now begun to increase the nostalgia value of these industrial products. IDEALIZED MEMORY China’s planned economy restricted development and prevented improvement in general living standards; in contrast, the current population is increasingly affluent, with diverse and high-quality consumption choices similar to those in other market economy nations. However, when looking back under current pressures, many Chinese seem to view life as having been more stable and less stressful in the planned economy period, especially from 1978 to the mid-1990s. For example, as part of China’s planned-economy strategy to eliminate class differences, a “unified job allocation system” and a “unified wage system” were established in the 1950s. Under these acts, China’s entire urban population was employed and enjoyed lifetime job security, with university graduates automatically allocated jobs, until the mid-1990s. Government wage policies kept wage differentials between managers and workers and between intellectuals and physical laborers intentionally low, with the monthly income of a factory manager only three to four times as high as that of an ordinary lineworker. With the demise of the planned economy, this model disappeared.7 Memories are often idealized, and the human memory system has a strong tendency to forget the negative content of the past but remember positive aspects. David Lowenthal has famously described nostalgia as memory with the pain removed, the pain being relegated to the present.8 So it is with the Chinese memory of the planned economy era, especially from 1978 to the mid-1990s, which today is often seen as a golden age: the chaotic Cultural Revolution had ended, Reform and Opening had just started, foreign consumer and cultural products were slowly starting to pervade China, and people were increasing their incomes while still enjoying the old noncompetitive and therefore low-stress lifestyle. Post-1980s Chinese spent their childhoods

in this golden age.9 Today, however, there is no guaranteed lifetime job allocation, and university graduates face the possibility of unemployment. Soaring house prices and rising household indebtedness require many post-80s urban Chinese who are in the process of forming families to overwork to retain jobs and earn money. Additionally, the gap between rich and poor is increasing rapidly. Meanwhile, drastic changes to urban landscapes and infrastructure, as well as to popular culture, likely enhance feelings of discontinuity and loss of identity. Under the planned economy, families engaged in common do-it-yourself behaviors to fulfill needs: the sewing machine was a must for every Chinese family, and parents often made clothes and toys for their children. Today, these behaviors, as well as the familiarity born of living among a limited range of brands and product designs, are nearly extinct, existing only as fragments of memories for much of the population. NOSTALGIA AND DESIGN IN CONTEMPORARY CHINA Possessions associated with the past can be used to evoke and express nostalgia and as a means of seeking resonance and sharing emotion with others. Design can thus play an important role in the nostalgia wave. Perhaps because nostalgia and popular culture are so intimately linked, designers can often sense incoming nostalgic trends and embed their work with evocative elements. This has been the case among many young Chinese designers, who have used nostalgia-evoking design strategies to succeed in the market economy, from the Nengmao store,10 named to recall the simple childhood of the post-1980s, to the Reborn design group’s Memory Warrior shoes.11 FOREVER-C: CASE STUDY OF A NOSTALGIA-EVOKING DESIGN STRATEGY One of the most effective recent uses of idealized Chinese memory in design strategy is Forever-C, a product series created to revitalize a once-legendary Chinese bicycle brand. Why did the designers decide to consciously utilize nostalgia, how did this design process take place, and how has the market responded?

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BACKGROUND OF FOREVER BICYCLES China was once called the “kingdom of bicycles”; before the mid-1990s the bicycle was the only form of transport that ordinary Chinese could afford, and cycling was the most common way to move around cities. The Forever bicycle, one of China’s three famous brands, was established by a Japanese businessman and manufactured in Shanghai until the factory was taken over by China’s newly established socialist government in the early 1950s and transformed into a state-owned enterprise. Its iconic name and classic, unchanging bicycle design eventually developed into an archetype that continues to resonate with contemporary consumers. One of four “dream products” of urban Chinese families, along with the Butterfly sewing machine, Shanghai watch, and Red Light radio set, the Forever bicycle enjoyed its fashionable status until the early 1990s, when it quickly lost status as the country transitioned to a market economy. As more internationally famous brands entered the Chinese market, predominantly at the high end, consumers finally had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with products from capitalist countries. They began to turn away from home-grown products in favor of these novel, often more user-friendly designs, despite the higher price points. By the mid1990s, Forever was regarded as a cheap, unfashionable brand, and after several years of deficit it was acquired by a private company for manufacture to the low-end market. FOREVER’S SEARCH FOR DESIGN AND INNOVATION With international bicycle manufacturers importing thousands of products with up-to-date functions and designs, Forever realized it had to change to survive in a newly competitive market. At first, the company coped by identifying their competitors’ most commercially successful models and producing cheaper versions for the Chinese market, ignoring critical issues such as product coherence and brand identity. This situation continued until 2007, when Forever’s twenty-year-old CEO , Chen Shan, initiated the company’s search for high-quality design and innovation.


In collaboration with Tongji University in Shanghai, Forever held a joint workshop in which design students from China, Denmark, and Germany created futuristic-looking concept bicycles for the company. Their work attracted the attention of Gao Shusan, a master’s student in architecture, who realized that the designs, while representing a step forward for the company, were too radical to convey the unique Forever heritage and engage people’s memories. Forming a team named Crossing Design, Gao submitted a proposal to revive China’s colorful cycling culture by revitalizing its most memorable classic brand. The result was a series of bicycles called Forever-C, with C representing the English words China, classic, cycle, colorful, and culture. The company endorsed a preliminary agreement to support the prototype, and the Forever-C project commenced in February 2010. IDEATION: BEGINNING WITH IDEALIZED COLLECTIVE MEMORY The Crossing Design team realized that ForeverC’s success was dependent on the many idealized collective memories associated with the Forever bicycle. As Gao’s design partner, Wang Zhuo, put it in sharing one of his own, highly typical, childhood memories: I guess you also had this experience: your father had a Forever bicycle when you were in kindergarten or elementary school, and he used that bicycle to send you to and pick you up from the school. You always sat on the top tube. In the winter, it was cold and windy and your father used his big heavy coat to cover you and make you warm. And also, sometimes your hands might be hurt by the unfriendly rod brake [laughter].12 Clearly, the nostalgia evoked in this recollection is ripe with positive feelings, even when recounting minor pains or inconveniences. The hearty laughter that follows Wang Zhuo’s description of little hands hurt by the old-style 12 Wang Zhuo, Forever-C brakes indicates that the designer, interview with author, December 2011.

memory of this pain has been replaced by feelings of happiness. Forever’s classic bicycle models carry generations’ worth of family memories like these— memories that post-1980s Chinese associate with a romantic and idealized childhood. TARGET SEGMENTATION: WENYI QINGNIAN Crossing Design decided to target its products toward the group of young adults known in China as Wenyi Qingnian (文 艺 青 年 ). This population segment, primarily university students and creative industry professionals, is characterized by its interest in art and literature and its sophisticated use of Internet social media for information sharing. Their consumption patterns and aesthetic preferences tend toward relatively inexpensive but fashionable and often retro possessions, in contrast with what they view as less well-educated parvenus attracted to European luxuries that demonstrate affluence. Most importantly, this group is the primary driver of China’s current nostalgia wave. PRESERVATION AND ALTERATION: THE DESIGN PROCESS The six words represented by the letter C, along with other important keywords such as memory, childhood, heritage, and inexpensive, initially helped orient Forever-C toward designing urban bicycles that provide a relaxing cycling experience, express the culture and heritage of the Forever bicycle, and bring back positive memories. The Forever-C strategy was to create bicycles that, unlike racing and mountain bikes, were not overly expensive and did not make advanced technology highly visible or place emphasis on performance. No such bicycle series existed in the contemporary Chinese market at the time. The design process involved working directly with the most representative Forever models from the 1980s, taking them apart and basing new models on the classics’ feeling and spirit. In order to connect directly with the brand heritage and evoke nostalgic memories, traditional elements of the Forever model needed to be preserved. At the same time, certain alterations were needed in order

to compete in the current cycling environment. In creating the first model of the Forever-C series, the designers therefore focused on three tasks: (1) to extract the unique spirit and visual elements of Forever from the classic model and retain them in Forever-C; (2) to remove redundant components and streamline functioning and appearance; and (3) to improve the size of components based on current anthropometric measurements to suit the modern Chinese rider. Unlike most mountain bikes, which are made from aluminum and have thick frame tubes and rims, the classic Forever bicycle was identified as possessing a graceful slimness, with a frame made from thin, narrow section steel. Thus, the first Forever-C model, the Peishan, continued to use slim rims and steel frames and retained the elegant triangular frame, horizontal top tube, and upright handlebars of the classic Forever, a feature that clearly differentiates Forever-C from products by other well-known manufacturers such as Giant. Alterations included removing the decorative flaring pattern from the frame, redesigning the chain guard, and reducing the size of the saddle. User tests indicated that the classic Forever bicycle was no longer suited to contemporary body sizes, causing riders to stoop. The top tube was therefore shortened and the saddle lowered to provide a more comfortable and relaxing posture (SEE FIGURE 1). LAUNCH AND MARKET RESPONSE After designing over one hundred prototypes, the Crossing Design team finalized designs for fifteen Forever-C models. In April 2010, these functioning prototypes were exhibited at the China International Bicycle and Motor Fair, during which the design team collected feedback for further improvements. More importantly, the dramatic return of Forever bicycles touched the Chinese visitors’ emotions: many took photographs of the bicycles and posted them online to share the news with friends of Forever’s return. Both domestic and foreign distributors expressed strong interest, some asking to purchase the prototypes immediately. These responses convinced the company to launch Forever-C.

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FIGURE 1: Comparison of Forever’s classic 26-inch male model and Forever-C’s 2010 Peishan model.


Nostalgia-evoking design strategies may be feasible and effective in other former planned economy countries. Because Forever-C’s target consumers were heavy Internet users, Crossing Design focused its promotion and sales channels online, building a Forever-C site and posting its first promotion on www.douban. com, a Chinese social network platform regularly visited by the Wenyi Qingnian demographic. News soon spread to other popular social networks, resulting in forty thousand repostings in one month. Thanks to this voluntary sharing by fans, the company spent almost nothing on formal promotion. In September 2010, Forever-C opened an exclusive online shop, followed by experience stores in Shanghai and Chengdu, in an effort to provide a better service experience and move toward a more high-end brand positioning. Perhaps not surprisingly, the best-selling models of Forever-C were those that remained most true to the basic design of the original classic Forever bicycle. CONCLUSION: OPPORTUNITIES FOR NOSTALGIA-EVOKING DESIGN IN TRANSITIONING AND MARKET ECONOMIES The deployment of nostalgia-evoking design strategies in China began around 2007 with the release of the blockbuster Transformers film, which elicited strong emotional responses among audiences in their twenties and thirties based on their childhood memories. The trend developed further through continuous exploration of collective memory elements on the part of young designers, and reached a climax with the launch of Forever-C in 2010, perhaps the most successful design case thus far in terms of the commercial exploitation of nostalgic trends. There are a number of reasons for this success. Most other Chinese design studios that have incorporated elements of old products and brands into new designs did not establish formal collaborations

with the original brand owners; as a result, despite the wide popularity of their nostalgia-evoking design works, the related businesses have tended to remain small. By contrast, the formal business relationship between Crossing Design and the Forever bicycle company created a mutually beneficial partnership in which the design process of the Forever-C project was well supported by a parent company; the Crossing Design team was therefore able to design not only a new series of products but also an entire strategy. Forever has benefitted not only by earning significant profits from Forever-C, but more importantly, by having its beloved, semidormant brand and its determined revival through design and innovation heavily reported through a wide variety of media. It is perhaps not surprising that a nostalgia wave can also be detected in other countries that have transitioned from planned socialist economies to market economies. Examples include “N\osztalgia,” a joint project created for the German-Hungarian Culture Year 2007, which encyclopedically presents a range of cultural, commercial, design, and other issues relating to the current wave of postsocialist nostalgia in East Germany and Hungary.13 Nostalgia in Russia has also become an important topic in consumer research and advertising studies.14 In each of these countries, there have been a number of nostalgia-evoking design cases, including Glavproduct in Russia, Ampelmann in Germany, and Tisza shoes in Hungary. It appears therefore that nostalgia-evoking design strategies may be feasible and effective in other former planned 13 See economy countries. 14 See Olena Nikolayenko, Similar design “Contextual Effects on Historical Memory: Soviet Nostalgia strategies might also among Post-Soviet Adolesbe utilized in markets cents,” Communist and PostCommunist Studies 41, no. 2 that never experienced (2008): 243–259; Susan L. a planned economy. In Holak, Alexei V. Matveev, and William J. Havlana, “Exploring fact, nostalgia could Nostalgia in Russia: Testing be considered a global the Index of Nostalgia-Proneness,” European Advances in focus for design. In Consumer Research 7 (2006), the market economy 195–200; Susan L. Holak, Alexei V. Matveev, and William system, past popular J. Havlena, “Nostalgia in Postcultural elements Socialist Russia: Exploring Applications to Advertising Strategy,” formed through free Journal of Business Research consumer choice could 61, no. 2 (2008): 172–178.

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have a similar impact, serving as collective memory triggers. Extensive research on nostalgia in marketing and advertising has been conducted in the United States, one of the most mature free market economies. Influential cases of nostalgia-evoking design in the United States and the European Union include a rethinking on the part of designers of what has been lost in the shift from analog to digital music products, resulting in efforts to reinterpret the cassette and boom-box culture for modern use. To revive the connection between the T DK company and music, for example, the ZIBA design team created a digital boom-box that features visual and interactive design cues from defunct models. Similarly, IDEO has asked, “What if we could physically touch our music again?” resulting in the C60 Redux, a digital music player with a physical, tactile interface.15 In Finland, a bicycle series popular in the 1960s and 70s was redesigned and reintroduced to the market with a strong nostalgic ethos, resulting in a decade of success. In London, a new generation of iconic Routemaster buses incorporates updated technology but preserves “hop-on, hop-off” access, the most important physical feature of the old version. These and other successful redesigns indicate that opportunities abound for products whose visual and operational elements derive from, and thus trigger, idealized childhood memories. The power of collective nostalgia, while at present particularly notable in post-socialist nations, is by no means limited to emerging markets. Indeed, design has only begun to tap into this potential.

15 See www.imissmypencil. com/#/crafts/17.


DESIGN AS VALUE CATALYST FOR SMEs IN EMERGING CONTEXTS: The Case of Guadalajara, Mexico Manuela Celi, Roberto Iñiguez Flores, and Laura Mata García



In what ways can design act as a catalyst of value for local small and medium sized enterprises (SM E s) in emerging countries? How can a design viewpoint serve to valorize local characteristics and competencies? As shown in a recent initiative to foster design-driven innovation in Guadalajara, Mexico, local companies can be supported in developing their identities through the exchange of knowledge and methodologies on a territorial scale.

Understanding a territory’s resources and knowledge is fundamental to defining strategic choices in design and production-related contexts. Identity includes unique and intangible values such as memory, tradition, and culture, directly linking it to natural and social capital. In recent years, territory has become a subject of attention and research for designers. Currently one main objective is to foster and support solutions to highly complex issues—ones that demand a broad vision of the design project and that involve products, communications, services, and ultimately territories. In fact, it has been documented that the process of adding and creating value from the knowledge and abilities present in a territory using design is more important and valuable than simply producing a physical artifact in itself.1

1 Flaviano Celaschi and Lia Krucken, “Contribuições do design para o desenvolvimento da economia criativa no territorio” (unpublished paper, 2011), 9; Flaviano Celaschi, “Design e identidade: incentivo para o design contemporâneo,” Cadernos de Estudos Avançados em Design: Identidade,

Moraes Djon, Lia Krucken and Paolo Reyes, eds. (Barbacena: Editora da Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais, 2010), 49–62; Giorgio Casoni, Daniele Fanzini and Raffaella Trocchianesi, Progetti per lo sviluppo del territorio: Marketing strategico dell’Oltrepò Mantovano, (Santarcangelo di Romagna: Maggioli, 2008).

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Today, the creation of value implies contemplation of the entire system of which the firm is part. If in advanced industrialized countries, companies must continuously reassess and redesign their competencies and relationships in order to keep producing value, in those that are recently industrialized the first step often consists of recognizing value in the first place. How can designers create their own value in these contexts? Can they become facilitators, improving the dialogue between all actors? What role could design play in transforming these local economies? The strategic abilities of design in open innovation projects—that is, projects involving both internal and external influences—are identifiable on three overlapping levels: the ability to reinterpret and reconfigure the value constellation in a global context; the strategic ability to recognize, remodel, and catalyze a territory’s specific values; and the capacity to mediate, activate, and coordinate dialogue between diverse actors, including institutions, public bodies, and local entrepreneurs, thus transferring knowledge and activating innovative processes. Today’s environment is more competitive and volatile than ever before, and strategy is no longer a matter of positioning a fixed set of activities along a value chain. The focus of strategic analysis cannot be the company alone, or even the broader industry, but the entire value-creating system itself, within which different economic actors, including suppliers, business partners, allies, and customers—work together to co-produce value. 2 The Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial (ESDI) was the first Brazilian school of higher education in industrial design, created in 1963. Tomás Maldonado, the Argentine designer considered one of the main theorists of the “Ulm Model” design philosophy, was one of its original founders. 3 “The Eames Report is an important document in the history of modern Indian design. Written in 1958 by Charles and Ray Eames at the request of the government of India, the report outlines a program for professional design training in India.” “The Eames Report April 1958,” Design Issues 7 (1991): 63–75.


4 The Golden Eye Project involved famous designers such as Mario Bellini, Ettore Sottsass, Frei Otto, Jack Lenor Larsen, Bernard Rudofsky, Mary McFadden, Charles Moore, Hans Hollein, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser and Sir Hugh Casson who were invited to India to facilitate a design workshop with the task of identifying traditional handcraft productions that could be used to satisfy “modern” needs. Valentina Auricchio, “Internationalization of design research and education centers: Promotion of international design networks” (PhD diss., Politecnico di Milano, 2007), 109.

This capacity, thus far identified primarily in developed countries, also holds great potential for emerging societies that require new formulas to boost their own capabilities. However, cooperation between industrialized and emergent contexts can only be considered successful when strategies for knowledge transfer consider the particularities of the situations and the perspectives of all stakeholders. ENHANCEMENT OF LOCAL VALUE THROUGH DESIGN Early attempts to transfer design knowledge to developing countries were not wholly successful, for a number of reasons. Most projects simply duplicated existing Western design practices and culture without fully understanding local traditions, methodologies and processes. Instances include projects that focused on creating educational institutions, such as Tomás Maldonado’s experience in the E SDI in Rio de Janeiro2; on developing research on design policy, as in the Eames Indian report 3; or on designing new objects, such as the Golden Eye Project.4 In cases such as these, technology transfer was not associated with an appropriate local cultural development, and the programs suffered from lack of intercultural mediation. The process of developing design knowledge in “design-free” countries is multilevel, as Gui Bonsiepe observed after his experience in Chile in the early 1990s; the levels encompass the simultaneous capability to manage design production, produce design research, and develop a design discourse.5 Promising models for innovative and sustainable development in emergent contexts blend the benefit of local autonomy and social wealth creation with the capability to activate and manage interactions between global and local networks. How can external inputs best be used to catalyze the discovery and activation of local value? How do we encourage “hybrid pathways” in which a balanced relation between global and local efforts may develop into a new design culture? THE MEXICAN CONTEXT The concept and practice of industrial design, primarily those of European schools such as the Bauhaus and The Ulm School for Design, were

imported into Mexico in response to the challenges of rapid industrialization and a growing urban population influenced by American culture. The profession arrived in Mexico through expatriots that fled Europe during World War II, instigating the development of degree programs with a strong Ulmian identity in the 1970s. In the late 1990s, design schools began importing design approaches based in American consultancy firms. However, since both methods come from external contexts, their utility in Mexico has been limited and the design discipline is still in many cases confined to academia, with poor links to the productive economy. Additionally, the companies themselves face difficulties stemming from structural features of Mexico’s productive system and the lack of institutional support for design. Although small and medium enterprises (SM E s) make up 97% of all Mexican companies, they have received little attention from design researchers and practitioners. As employers of 72% of the total workforce, Mexican SM E s play a key role as wealth generators in a nation with a limited welfare system. In recent years, the Ministry of Economy has begun to generate a support system for start-ups and SM E s through business-incubating programs, sponsorship of business plan coaching, special electricity and gas service rates, simplification of bureaucracy, and reduction of fees and licenses. Universities, despite their potential as innovation and R& D hubs, have had only sparse involvement with SM E s; most R& D is conducted through the public body that creates science and technology policy, under government funding. Very little of this funding is spent on designdriven innovation programs. Design in general remains largely overlooked in most Mexican 5 Gui Bonsiepe, “Paesi in via firms, due primarily di sviluppo: la coscienza del design e la condizione to production patterns periferica” in Storia del disegno established in the 1970s industriale 1919–1990: il dominio del design, (Milan: Electa, and 80s when foreign 1991), 262. buyers began requesting 6 Francisco Pérez Guerrero, Mexican manufactur“Development by Design: A ers to produce products Contextual Study Towards an Innovation and Design Policy in designed elsewhere. Mexico,” IASDR 2009 ConferAs a result of this ence Proceedings, Korean Society of Design Science now-widespread OE M (Seoul: COEX, 2009).

(Original Equipment Manufacturer) production model, housed in the production facilities commonly known in Mexico as maquiladoras, companies have been encouraged to emphasize engineering and product quality, with little concern for innovation or design. In a 2009 study, only 2% of the nearly 300 managers and entrepreneurs of SM E s questioned directly related innovation to design.6

In a sequence of four cases, the focus of value creation slowly shifts away from the physical object and toward opportunity identification that takes place long before the new product development process begins. Since design as a discipline is still poorly understood among Mexican firms, government programs that fund innovation in SM E s generally recognize technology as the only source of innovation. Despite recent literature that has identified design as a source of innovation at the product scale and an enhancer of innovation at the firm scale, design has only rarely been used in Mexico to generate innovation on a territorial scale. PROJECT STRUCTURE Keeping in mind difficulties related to design knowledge transfer—both from foreign contexts into Mexico and from academia to productive contexts—faculty at the Monterrey Institute of Technology proposed a project using a different model, with the university’s Guadalajara campus serving as a hub and facilitator of the transfer process. The project involved approximately fifty SM E s taking part in a program in metropolitan Guadalajara called Jornadas de Innovación y Diseño. The program, organized by the university and its Industrial Design Department, focused on training and transferring design knowledge to Mexican

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FIGURE 1: Project agenda.

FIGURE 2: On the first day, experts provide input.

FIGURE 4: Project participants and their roles.


FIGURE 3: Entrepreneurs, professors, and students work during the workshop.

SURVEY OF PARTICIPANT SMEs Following the workshop, the authors surveyed the companies to obtain insight in six fundamental areas:

• Company profile, including industry, size,

and profile of employees participating in the workshops.

• Use of design and perceptions about design

before and after participation in the workshops.

FIGURE 5: Team distribution.

• Motives and expectations of workshop participants.

• Use and valorization of local know-how or tradiSM E s, including start-ups, that are linked to the

region’s traditional industries such as jewelry and accessories, textiles, leather goods, furniture, and tequila. The goal of the program was to increase competitiveness and export capacities. The Jornadas project also exemplifies a new formula of cooperation between an emergent country like Mexico and an industrialized region like the European Union, with the aim of fostering design-driven innovation on a territorial scale. During the project, experts from Spain, Poland, Chile, Switzerland, and the U.K. facilitated a series of weeklong Design and Innovation Workshops in which the participant enterprises were guided to develop strategies and design products according to a specific agenda (SEE FIGURES 1–3). Figure 4 describes the number and roles of participants per workshop, including design students and professors (SEE FIGURE 4). Each enterprise worked together with two or three students under the coaching and review of the professors and expert leader (SEE FIGURE 5). Results of the initiative reveal the importance of appropriately exploiting regional value to create added value in new products and activate concealed value in the territory using design at a strategic level. The project also successfully prototyped a new form of collaboration between institutions that enables knowledge transfer among universities, institutions, and entrepreneurs, and highlights the ability to spark cultural change in SM E s by directly involving top management and owners.

tional craft skills and materials before and after participation in the workshops.

• Importance for the companies of the role of the

other actors involved in the initiative, including institutions, designer-facilitators, and students.

• Tangible results from the workshop in terms of

product innovation and various stages of product development processes.

RELEVANT FINDINGS Fifty percent of the 48 participating companies responded to the survey. From the registration forms, it was determined that 35 of the 48 companies operate in the handcrafts, furniture, and jewelry industries (36%, 21%, and 17% respectively)—low-tech industries that tend to innovate in a “softer” way. In general, these industries rely heavily on design for differentiation and competitive advantage; this is also the case in mature industrialized countries such as Italy, where design is key to the worldwide brand. Findings in the first section of the survey showed that so-called Micro SM E s (i.e. those with fewer than 10 employees) made up 62.5% of respondents; of these, the workshop participant was most often the owner, followed by an in-house designer. (Because respondents could answer with more than one choice, totals in FIGURE 6 exceed 100%.) The second section of the survey indicated that a significant percentage of the companies was already employing a designer before attending the

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FIGURE 6: Participants from the enterprises.

FIGURE 7: Tangible results of the workshops.

FIGURE 8: Phases where workshop helped enterprises to innovate.

workshops (40.9%) and already perceived design as a tool that can confer a strategic competitive advantage (50%). After the workshops, positive perceptions rose sharply, with 76% agreeing that design is helpful in the product development process, 85.7% agreeing that design could become a strategic asset in promoting continuous innovation, 90.5% agreeing that design can contribute to the economic growth of companies, and 85.7% agreeing that it can also contribute to overall improvement in quality of life.

The third section showed that most companies participated in the workshops with the aim of improving existing product lines (61.9%) or developing new products (85.7%). The fourth section showed that most companies rely on traditional local knowledge or materials (76.2%). The fifth section showed that most companies viewed their relationship with the designers facilitating the workshops to be of greatest value to them (90.5%) and found the Monterrey Institute of Technology and the students to be of high


importance (both mentioned by 70.4% of respondents). The sixth and final section showed the tangible results of the workshops (SEE FIGURE 7) as well as where companies perceive that the workshop aided innovation (SEE FIGURE 8). IMPLICATIONS OF FINDINGS The fact that in the majority of cases the owner of the company was the workshop attendee can be positively interpreted as a sign of personal interest, involvement, and willingness to promote a design culture using a top-down approach; alternatively it could be negatively interpreted to show that companies are small and understaffed, forcing the owner to take on multiple roles in the absence of a design specialist. Secondly, it was found that despite the companies’ high reliance on local know-how, this resource was scarcely valorized: the workshops allowed about half of the enterprises to enhance the local aspect of their offering through better communication, by redesigning traditional products, or by designing new products that complement traditional ones. The third key finding was that most companies, despite a primary focus on product innovation, also reported innovation in other, less tangible aspects of their firms that are often overlooked, such as services, brand experience, and most importantly, a coherent design strategy. Finally, most companies reported that they had received help managing the earliest phases of the product design process. With widespread acknowledgement that these front-end phases of innovation are crucial—and in fact, the roots of success for firms engaging in discontinuous product innovation7 —the fact that participating firms emerged from the project better equipped to manage innovation is one of the initiative’s biggest achievements. Overall, companies demonstrated a positive and improved perception of what design can do, with 90% reporting a high level of satisfaction after the experience. 7 Susan E. Reid and Ulrike De Brentani, “The Fuzzy Front End of New Product Development for Discontinuous Innovations: A Theoretical Model,” 21 (2004), 170–184.

FIGUREs 9–10: Passages performed by companies.

SELECTED CASES In order to better describe the experience of embedding value through design, we selected four participants with a broad diversity of experience to study in greater depth. The following case examples explore the passage that each company underwent in terms of design process during and after their participation (SEE FIGURES 9–10). These graphics describe how design helped the companies move from one step to the next, with the horizontal scale representing the levels or stages of design application as a tool for innovation and the vertical scale representing the value production achieved each time companies developed a different capability using design as a value catalyst.

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CASE 1: ARTESANIAS Y MANUALIDADES CARMELO This traditional handcraft MSM E is located near the Otates Canyon in a village of 1,000 inhabitants that is distant and marginalized from big cities and their productive contexts. The family business is led by Carmelo Beas Montes, using know-how learned over generations. Due to disabilities and limited mobility, Carmelo has found it difficult to earn a living; the local transport system has no infrastructure for the disabled, and he has no access to special programs or support.

Design acts as mediator and orchestra director of a new value constellation, generating value for all stakeholders, not just customers.

locations. Were Carmelo to disagree with these conditions, his distributors would simply transfer their business to his competitors. Carmelo’s interest in the Design and Innovation Workshops stemmed from a desire to network and improve the company’s products. Having no background in design, the family felt that their collaboration with the students and designers helped them develop designed products as well as a medium-tolong-term strategy based on differentiation. For the first time ever, the company has a business strategy in which design plays an important role. Through this approach, they have developed a new line of products that valorize traditional local know-how. As a result, they can continue to compete through low-priced commodities while also creating their own design-driven brand that highlights authorship and specialized craft and dignifies the value of the handmade products as collectible pieces (SEE FIGURE 11). CASE 2: ITEKNIA

As master craftsman and head of the family, he makes all decisions regarding product development of the company’s wooden crafts: small-scale reproductions of vehicles bought as toys or decorations. Many other families create these unbranded products as well, yet none has a clear distribution channel or business strategy. Instead, intermediaries control production, price, and distribution

Iteknia began in 2004 as a business-to-business tertiary provider, manufacturing upholstered pieces for companies developing furniture for hotels. In 2007 it was formalized as a company that develops projects with its own brand and sales capacity. Now a medium-sized company with 53 employees, it develops and manufactures furniture for the hotel industry through a contract model. Because product innovation is led by the individual demands of hotel

FIGURE 11: Passage performed by the company Artesanías y Manualidades Carmelo after the workshop.

FIGURE 12: Passage performed by the company Iteknia after the workshop.


FIGURE 13: Passage performed by the company Centro Creativo after the workshop.

FIGURE 14: Passage performed by the company Mackech after the workshop.

developers, the company has developed a problemsolving approach, creating tailored on-demand solutions for its customers. The owner and director, in-house designer, and sales manager participated in three Design and Innovation Workshops in order to support the company’s expansion from a single inhouse designer to a proper design department. As a result of these sessions the company considered rethinking its business strategy, vision, and mission to include a project in progress but not yet formalized: developing a new design-driven, independent sub-brand of product lines not limited to clients’ requests and opening its own business-toconsumer points of sale. The company now has a design strategy and an internal design department with six new employees. They are now able to identify new opportunities with their contract hotel customers, diversify their business-to-customer product portfolio, and consider creating future brand families for market diversification (SEE FIGURE 12).

and graphic design to media production. One of its key strengths is the deep skillset of its employees, which the company cultivates by providing ongoing training. The company’s co-founder and director and the senior graphic designer both attended Design and Innovation Workshops as part of the Jornadas initiative, where they developed two main projects. The first is a design briefing questionnaire used in first approaches with customers to identify specific project goals, brand objectives, target audience, and the relationship between the brand and consumers. This process involves the designers at the earliest stage of the project and enables the company to draft more innovative project briefings. The second project is a business evaluation tool that applies Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas to the company’s communication and brand design projects, helping them and their customers to create communication strategies focused on return on investment. In the case of Centro Creativo, service design and design as a process create a strong differentiator (SEE FIGURE 13).

CASE 3: CENTRO CREATIVO Centro Creativo provides design services and advertising campaigns for companies that wish to improve their positioning and communication. Originally conceived as a school for specialized training in creativity, communication, and advertising, it was formalized as an entrepreneurial project in 2008. Its ten employees operate as a department that provides services ranging from communication

CASE 4: MACKECH Created twenty years ago as a jewelry seller, this family company developed the brand Mackech in 2005 to create and brand their own products. Today they have twenty direct employees, and members of the family’s second generation are beginning to take over leadership positions. Mackech’s key strengths

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include high-tech facilities and highly qualified craftsmen that create elaborate handmade finishes with gold. The company designs and manufactures its own products (90% of their product portfolio is in-house designed and produced; the other 10% is outsourced), with distribution divided among proprietary flagship stores and large distribution channels. The company considers design a strategic tool and has been a leading contributor at the Regional Chamber of the Industry of Jewelry and Silver of the State of Jalisco, the regional association of jewelry producers and the first center for design promotion in the state. The company’s design sensibility and know-how was therefore already mature when its owners, designer, brand director, and production team leaders participated in two Design and Innovation Workshops, with a goal to stay fresh and creative. During the workshops they focused on developing new products for a sub-brand called 381

by Mackech as well as products to diversify its portfolio, such as fashion accessories. Because the company’s product design and design management capabilities are strong, the main focus was on the brand’s identity. The outcome was a strategy of corporate identity that positions the brand on the basis of its original and contemporary Mexican design. The brand architecture includes three sub-brands in separate categories: low-cost accessories, affordable jewelry, and premium jewelry (SEE FIGURE 14). CONCLUSIONS The experiences provided by the Jornadas de Innovacion y Diseño can be interpreted within a framework in which design offers solutions and visions that rely on the notion of a value network. The value is already present, embedded in the SMEs’ know-how, in the particular skills of the local craftspeople, and in product categories that are unique to

FIGURE 15: Comparison of pasages and increase in value produced in the four case examples.


that territory and can be valorized on different levels and with different results according to the maturity of the company (SEE FIGURE 15). In the case of Artesanías y Manualidades Carmelo, the workshops enabled a first understanding of the potentiality of design. Carmelo’s ability to develop his own products through form, quality, and aesthetic features typical of a particular manufacturing technique is representative of the value that can be embedded in products.

Collaborations like these represent a first step toward developing a sustainable culture of innovation.

Iteknia, a more mature firm with its own products and know-how, came away with a strategic plan to develop differentiated products, brands, and services. With many furniture companies producing on-request for the Mexican contract market, the capability to develop a recognizable product and promote it with a strong image through specific selling channels represents a significant change that produces value at a different level—not only embedding it into the product but also achieving consensus in business-to-business relations. For the young start-up Centro Creativo, existing design capabilities were redirected to re-design their work process, orienting it toward a service approach. The information-gathering and listening method that the company developed produces a high value perception for the clients, while the capability to offer customized services and tailor the communication portfolio creates differentiation and competitive advantage. Finally, the case of Mackech shows how an external stimulus can shift perception in firms with mature design expertise. The consolidated product and the related know-how became the knowledge base for the development of a coherent strategy of brand diversification supported by differentiated communication and distribution channels.

In the sequence of these cases, the focus of value creation slowly shifts away from the physical object and toward opportunity identification that takes place long before the new product development process begins. As in advanced design perspectives, design acts as mediator and orchestra director of this new value constellation, generating value for all stakeholders, not just customers. The Jornadas initiative supports local cultures in developing their identity within a national context that is also open to international relations. Inter-institutional cooperation builds bridges that facilitate the exchange of knowledge and innovation methodologies, acting as an external input that stimulates and accelerates the innovation processes and the introduction of design as value catalyst in developing regions. For many of the participants, the opportunity to develop a local cultural product by interacting with other cultures and embedding such local-global hybridization in the final results represents a first step toward developing a sustainable culture of innovation. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors wish to express their gratitude to Mrs. Paz Nieto, director of Eurocentro office; Eurocentro office staff; Al Invest program, European Community; Ramiro Estrada, director, Industrial Design Department; Claudia Kleemann, assistant, Industrial Design Department, and professors of the Industrial Design Department, Monterrey Institute of Technology in Guadalajara; Mr. Carmelo Beas, master craftsman and owner, Artesanias y Manualidades Carmelo; Mr. Carlos Lomelí, operations director, Iteknia; Mr. Mauricio Margulles, director, Centro Creativo; Mrs. Gabriela Caloca, senior designer, Centro Creativo; Mrs. Geraldina Herrera, general director, Mackech.

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INCREMENTAL OPEN SPACES: The Case of Dharavi, India Serena Alcamo, Daniela Bosco, and Valeria Federighi

INTRODUCTION Tabula rasa urban renewal programs, with their massive disruption of existing communities, are notoriously intrusive. What alternatives might exist for intervening in slums and other “informal” settlements in less destructive ways? Can the rigid dichotomy of “formal/informal,” when applied to urban neighborhoods, be challenged by designing for incremental building? Does the distinction between these two conditions actually impair our understanding of urban life, its problems and its possibilities? Dharavi, in Mumbai, India, is one of the largest, liveliest—and wealthiest—slums in the world. Working with the urban planning research organization U R BZ 1, the authors have been exploring the ways in which its inhabitants’ informal way of living benefits Dharavi as well as the whole city of Mumbai, and how these benefits would


be compromised or destroyed if the city’s current redevelopment plan 2 is carried out, resulting in the razing of the entire district and depriving its inhabitants of basic means of support. HISTORY OF REDEVELOPMENT EFFORTS IN MUMBAI Dharavi is often referred to as the largest slum in Asia (though it is now believed that a larger slum exists in Karachi, Pakistan). Its one million inhabitants, by informal census estimates, make up approximately one-seventeenth of the total population of Mumbai, on 1 URBZ: User-Generated 220 hectares (530 acres). Cities. See At 315 people per square 2 Mumbai approved a plan in meter, Dharavi is six times 2004 providing for complete as densely populated as renovation of the Dharavi settlement. Source: Mumbai Manhattan (SEE FIGURE 1).3 Reader 2007, published by The Urban Design Research Institute,

FIGURE 1: View of Dharavi.

A peninsular city, Mumbai is not well suited for geographical expansion, and as a result land values are extremely high.4 Dharavi, originally a peripheral fishing village,5 now occupies an enviable location within the city that has grown around it; the highend Bandra-Kurla business complex, for example, is being developed just across the river. 3 “Inside Slums, Light in the In 1971 the govDarkness,” The Economist, Jan. 27, 2005. ernment passed the Maharastra Slum 4 Source: www.mumbaimirror. com. Since 2007 the average Areas (Improvement, Mumbai land value per square Clearance, and meter has increased from 450 to 2,000 rupees. Redevelopment) Act, officially defining Dharavi 5 The origin of Dharavi is connected to that of Koliwada and other settlements in village, the oldest district of the city as slums—that Mumbai, which has been developed since 1777. is, areas unsuitable for human habitation. As 6 Source: “Slumbay” plays on Bombay, a result, some improvethe city’s former name, which ments were made in was officially changed in 1995.

water infrastructure and drainage, and the settlement’s two largest arteries—the 90 Feet Road and the 60 Feet Road—were created. But in the 1980s, about 50 percent of Mumbai’s population, about 4.5 million people, still lived in informal settlements, 70 percent of them in recognized slums, giving rise to the city’s nickname of “Slumbay.”6 To address the ongoing issue of Mumbai’s slums, two further initiatives were carried out: the Slum Improvement Program (SIP ) in 1976 and the Slum Upgradation Program (SU P ) in 1983–84. Both initiatives attempted less radical interventions in comparison with previous plans that had simply razed settlements wholesale, displacing masses of people from one slum to the next. This change reflected a shift in approach to the problem of slums, from a top-down to an increasingly bottom-up one. In 1985, under Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi, one billion rupees (about ten million dollars) was allocated for urban recovery plans in Mumbai. The Bandra-Kurla complex was built at this time, as

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FIGURE 2: Design for new open space is provided in the redevelopment plan.

well as seventy-two seven-story buildings, mostly along the fringe of Dharavi. While the aim was to coordinate public welfare and private interests, the law was not well-structured, and as a consequence of the program only housing—and no services—was built for over a decade. In 2004, the municipality of Mumbai7 approved the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan, under which the settlement is to be razed and replaced by a highrise, mixed-use district designed by local architect Mukesh Mehta. The plan is part of a bigger scheme intended to make Mumbai a “world class city” on par with Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Dubai (SEE FIGURE 2). 8 7 The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, also known as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), is the civic organ that governs the city. It is the richest municipality in India, with a yearly GDP higher than that of some small Indian states. Created through the 1988 Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, it is responsible for civic infrastructure as well as the administration of the city and some smaller suburbs.


8 See “Vision Mumbai: Transforming Mumbai into a World-Class City,” report commissioned by the Maharashtra State Government and produced by business advocacy group Bombay First and the McKinsey consultancy. 9 Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers. See

While this plan clearly implies an improvement in hygiene and density issues within Dharavi, it would also involve the uprooting of an enormous number of inhabitants. Negotiations involved representatives of three primary stakeholder groups: the local population; NGO s such as SPA RC 9 and affiliated groups including Mahila Milan and the National Slum Dwellers Federation; and the municipality, which agreed to assign a housing unit to any family that can prove it has lived in Dharavi from at least the year 2000. This concession would reduce the number of families forced to relocate to other slums farther from the city and enable better integration between different social classes. However, according to local organizations such as U R BZ , many local families cannot officially prove their total years of residence, as they have no formal or legal documentation. In any case, the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan would irrevocably remove most local people’s means of support—informal industries such as textiles and recycling, pottery, and workshops, which form the economic backbone of Dharavi—forcing them to look outside the district for employment.

Two groups have been active in trying to avoid this outcome: the Concerned Citizens of Dharavi, a coalition composed of associations protesting the new plan; and the Dharavi Development Committee, a federation of cooperatives organized in 1987, when the first version of the plan was proposed.10 Recently these two consortiums have united in order to more effectively pressure the municipality to revise the plan with greater consideration for current inhabitants. To date, the largest concession has been to lower the maximum height of buildings from thirty stories to eight. The plan is currently estimated to cost $2.9 billion; however, no action has yet been taken. DHARAVI: THE HEART AND LIVER OF MUMBAI Dharavi is sometimes called “the heart and liver of Mumbai”: the heart because of its central position within the city; the liver because its informal industries collect, process, and recycle most of the city’s waste. In fact, Dharavi is a major exporter of recycled plastic, supplying international firms such as Johnson & Johnson, and of recycled cardboard, in addition to its leather tanning and pottery manufacturers. The district’s yearly income is unofficially estimated at around one billion dollars, a significant contribution to the GDP of Mumbai as a whole, which includes the Bollywood film industry. Eighty percent of Dharavi’s population is employed within the settlement, with as much as 40 percent selfemployed (SEE FIGURE 3).11 These industries thrive in various nagars (districts) throughout Dharavi, organizing themselves in various informal ways. But what does informal actually mean here? In the in context of architecture and urban planning, “informal” typically refers to 10 Sheela Patel and Jockin Arputham, “Plans for Dharavi: a lack of legality; thus Negotiating a Reconciliation the dichotomy formal/ between a State-Driven Market Redevelopment and Residents’ informal indicates Aspirations,” Environment & compliance or noncomUrbanization 20, no. 1, April 2008. pliance with regulated standards such as those 11 “Inside Slums, Light in the Darkness,” The Economist, Jan. governing building 27, 2005. height, infrastructural 12 Rahul Mehrotra, 361° Consoundness, and populaference: Design and Informal tion density. Lofts built Cities, Mumbai, October 2010.

without regard for minimal interior heights are illegal, or informal, just as a temporary commercial shack in the middle of a sidewalk is informal.

For the most part, informality is not a choice but a reaction to the lack of alternatives within the bounds of formality. In Dharavi’s case, informality is the very condition by which wealth is created and its inhabitants supported. No formal settlement would succeed in recreating Dharavi’s mix of housing, industry, and commerce, because the standards of formality, in particular zoning regulations, would not accept the consequent juxtapositions (plastic recycling workshops next to residential rooms, for example). This is true of all informal settlements: for the most part, informality is not a choice but a reaction to the lack of alternatives within the bounds of formality. Because of this, the small Mumbai settlements that sprout in the interstices of the formal city—in swamps, on pavements, and under bridges—house the labor force that is the very engine of the city. Ironically, this population could not survive elsewhere, and certainly not close enough to the formal city to enjoy its advantages. This leads to a contradiction: the benefits of informality are not replicable in the formal city, yet the problems that derive from informality can be solved only by resorting to formality. But is the dichotomy between informality and formality truly this rigid? Is it possible to find some continuity through which the designer can operate more lightly and encourage the mixing of these two dimensions? KINETIC DHARAVI An alternative definition for Dharavi, and one that seems to serve this purpose well, is that proposed by Harvard Graduate School of Design professor and architect Rahul Mehrotra: “kinetic city.”12 The kinetic city is one where meanings shift continually, where formal becomes informal and vice versa; a

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city that grows wherever people expand its margins to create space; and one that adjusts and changes over time, leaving few permanent traces. A new dichotomy thus suggests itself: static/kinetic—“static” representing the city made of matter and monuments that are permanent, and “kinetic” meaning the city made of temporary materials and located in the static city’s interstitial spaces. In the kinetic city, major variations happen on the temporal axis: an area of a public park may be a cricket field in the morning; undergo a rapid change starting at noon to become the setting for a Bollywood-style evening wedding, complete with flowers, tables, and festoons; only to be dismantled later that night in order to host a cricket game the next morning. According to Mehrotra, “If in Europe the city lives and people seem to disappear, here architecture disappears swallowed by a numerous and lively population.” (SEE FIGURE 4)13 Dharavi is ultimately a kinetic settlement. Its stretch of railroad, officially public land, is used alternatively for hanging clothes to dry, gardening, and even sleeping. Its major roads continually shift from holding markets, to religious functions, to improvised manufacturing, to traffic. Meanwhile, the houses themselves—especially in the New Transit Camp Nagar, one of the richest in Dharavi—are a clear example of informal housing development taken to a high level. Originally one-floor row houses set 1.6 meters apart, they have been incrementally added onto, their upper floors overhanging from the initial structure so that the roofs almost touch each other, blocking light and air and making what were originally alleys into long, dark passages.14 Each house sits on a concrete basement foundation that becomes a sort of mediation space between 13 Mehrotra, 361° Conference. 14 Source: Mumbai Reader 2008, published by The Urban Design Research Institute, 15 Source: www.urbanology. org. See also J. Grima, “URBZ: Crowdsourcing the City,” Domus 955, 2012. 16 A. Brillembourg and H. Klumpner, co-founders, UrbanThink Tank; see “SLUM Living: Informal Toolbox for a New Architecture,” Lotus 143, 2010.


17 The Aranya housing project, initiated in 1985 in Indore, India, by architect Balkrishna Doshi, is a site-and-services project for mixed-income housing. See William J. R. Curtis, “Aranya Low-Cost Housing,” 463, July-August 2006. 18 Alejandro Aravena, “Quinta Monroy: Elemental,” 742, 2006.

inside and outside, and can host a variety of activities including retail and light manufacturing. Instead of glass panes in the windows, most houses have what are known as grill-boxes hanging from the outer wall, which provide additional storage for household items (SEE FIGURE 5).

When we think in terms of the distinction formal/informal, we are predisposed to valorize formality over its opposite, and to accept that urban development must always tend toward formality. Without this rigid and invidious distinction, it is much easier to imagine design in a slum as a hybrid process. The space inside these houses is extremely flexible: so much so that Institute of Urbanology founders Rahul Srivastava and Matias Echanove refer to them as “tool houses.”15 Usually consisting of one room and housing up to six family members, the house is a living space during the night and at meals, during which times space is maximized through lofts, stackable mattresses, and folding tables; during the day, the house becomes a workspace, or is rented to various businesses as storage space (SEE FIGURE 6). In settlements like Dharavi, nonresident designers typically play an ambiguous role. Often they have served as the agents through which mass formalization is physically implemented. Historically, most proposed interventions in informal settlements have consisted either of tabula rasa plans—like Mukesh Mehta’s—or of more incremental plans to upgrade the physical environment. Tabula rasa slum clearing, of course, represents a definitive resort to formality in order to solve problems caused by informality. But the either-or quality implied by such initiatives can actually weaken the targeted settlement, by forcing out the advantages that informality had previously brought to slum dwellers. Upgrading,

Dharavi Economic Heart and Liver of Mumbai

FIGURE 3: Widespread manufacturing activity in Dharavi creates an elevated level of production for Mumbai as a whole.

FIGURE 4: Versatility of open space in Dharavi: a street is used for celebrating, praying, trading, and other purposes throughout the day.

FIGURE 5: Different ways to improve limited space (clockwise from top left): overhanging floor, roof, loft, basement, grill-box.

FIGURE 6: Scheme of tool-house: different configurations of limited space in houses.

whether spontaneous or planned, is often seen as a lighter way to intervene: rather than disrupting the existing urban pattern, it seeks to reinforce its positive qualities while mitigating its problems. One example of light intervention is Alfredo Brillembourg’s Caracas Metro Cable,16 a cable-car system designed to improve transportation within the slums of that city. This kind of solution, of course, requires a large public investment, something that has been accomplished in many cases in South America (the case of Medellin, Colombia, is particularly exemplary) but that is not always possible. In any case, and referring again to the formal/ informal dichotomy, many of these supposedly lighter solutions merely attempt to establish a formal

structure to contain the informal; in other words, despite the intention to elicit a more gradual transition, these initiatives nevertheless involve imposing a massive change in the daily lives of thousands or millions of people. In the last thirty years or so, another stream has developed: design that is predisposed for completion by the end users. This is the case in site-andservices plans such as Balkrishna Doshi’s Aranya project,17 in which the designer provided future inhabitants with an abacus of elements to use in any combination they wished. A more recent example is Alejandro Aravena’s scheme in Quinta Monroy, Chile, built by his firm, Elemental.18 These models enable an actual mixing of the two dimensions: the

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FIGURE 7: Asbestos roofs are currently used primarily by young people as an outlet space to play, rest, or socialize.

formality of planning can be completed informally, through the design of a menu of modular elements that can be adapted to specific situations. The scheme generally includes a formal support that is intended to be filled in incrementally over time, in a more or less ad hoc and informal way. The Quinta Monroy dwelling, for example, was predisposed by the designer to be expanded by its inhabitants to a certain point. Other designers, such as John Habraken, Yona Friedman, and Teddy Cruz, have also theorized shelf or umbrella structures that would give an initial formal input to the informal settlement that is intended to emerge over time. In projects such as these, the dichotomy fades: when we think in terms of the distinction formal/informal, we are predisposed to valorize formality over its opposite, and to accept that urban development must always tend toward formality. Without this rigid and invidious distinction, it is much easier to imagine design in a slum as a hybrid process,


answering to Mehrotra’s definition of the kinetic city. We believe this is a more appropriate approach in the case of Dharavi. PROJECT PROPOSAL This project belongs to a great extent to the long tradition of design for incremental building. Most of that tradition, however, consists of ex novo plans such as Doshi’s Aranya, Aravena’s Quinta Monroy, and Yona Friedman’s umbrellas, in which the formal design element is an infrastructure that serves to make the subsequent informal building easier, more sanitary, and more structurally sound. By contrast, in Dharavi we wished to respond to the municipality’s tabula rasa plan with a project that would highlight the settlement’s existing strengths, reducing demolition as much as possible. Our design for incremental building, then, is a sort of “urban acupuncture”19 that attempts to add a layer of

FIGURE 8: Roofs may be turned into new open and usable space for inhabitants, with walkable platforms.

development over the existing fabric of the district. One of the kinetic elements we have observed in Dharavi are the roofs, which generally consist of simple sheets of asbestos supported by slim steel profiles. While not formally accessible, the rooftops are used extensively by children for playing or socializing, and by family-scale firms for storage (SEE FIGURE 7). We believe that the roofs hold much potential for maximizing the availability of open space— and they undoubtedly belong to local tradition, as most of the oldest houses have beautifully tiled rooftop terraces, particularly those in Koliwada Nagar, the original fishing village from which Dharavi later developed.  The main idea of the project is to increase the usability of the roofs through construction by the municipality of a number of platforms over the existing roofs, which can then be completed and replicated by the inhabitants according to their own needs. In this way, the project attempts to unite formal (municipal intervention) and informal (inhabitant input and completion) approaches to the surrounding urban infrastructure, melding these into an incremental process where they not only alternate temporally but also intertwine, thus creating a third dimension that, for lack of a more precise definition, we could call kinetic (SEE FIGURE 8). The project is organized into four sequential phases, with the only “designed” intervention, the building of the platforms, occurring in the first phase. The emergence of subsequent phases depends on the success of the first; we imagine the platforms

as placeholders for what may happen, which preserves maximum flexibility of use for the inhabitants themselves. Mediation could be performed by a social service agency with established ties to the local government—one that has been in the area for some time and has earned the inhabitants’ trust (possibilities include SPA RC and Slum Dwellers International). In the first phase, the municipality builds ten platforms distributed throughout the block that will serve as the project site (SEE FIGURE 9). To maximize flexibility, inhabitants are given a choice of a simpler platform consisting of a green roof on steel pillars or a larger one made up of a two-story skeleton structure with no finished roof. The chosen NGO is responsible for ensuring that families understand the options and act according to their interests. The two types of structure allow participants to opt for one of the following: an immediately usable space (the green roof) that offers a good alternative in terms of thermal mass and practical usage, such as vegetable growing; or a more flexible space that involves more commitment to complete in terms of time and money but that offers wider possibilities for additional rooms, for example, or a henhouse. The choice of a structure on steel pillars standing on the ground, which may at first seem invasive, 19 Expression coined by Alfredo Brillembourg at 361° Conferresults from a series of ence: Design and Informal considerations regarding Cities, Mumbai, October 2010, in reference to using redevelopthe district’s pattern and ment projects more surgically the identity of these new to regenerate degraded areas.

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FIGURE 9: Phases of incremental process: (1) public intervention (2) self-building completion (3) self-building intervention (4) final public intervention.

FIGURE 10: Two possible light structures: a completed green roof structure and an incomplete two-level structure.


objects: first, the structure of the existing houses lacks the strength to (formally) support additional weight; secondly, building a self-supporting structure allows the inhabitants to complete the whole whenever they are able (SEE FIGURE 10). The second phase involves residents filling in the missing parts of the platforms according to each household’s individual preferences and needs. Those who have purchased a green roof platform simply remove the asbestos slabs and close the peripheral walls against the platforms; alternatively, they can leave the asbestos on temporarily. With the twostory platforms, the possibilities are more numerous. The dwellers can complete the structures to serve as chicken coops, small gardens, or lofts, for example. The height of the intermediate space is limited in order to discourage inhabitants from creating additional housing units for sublet, an important condition given that the goal of the project is to increase the ratio of open space per inhabitant; however, this restriction cannot be practically enforced. Incremental building generally relies on a slow process of communal assimilation of technique and know-how. If the municipality-built platforms are appreciated and considered useful by

FIGURE 11: The incremental process applied to a block in Dharavi.

FIGURE 12: Possible configuration of platforms in Dharavi: roof level replicates street-level life.

the inhabitants, it is possible that in time they will be replicated and become part of local construction knowledge. This represents the third phase of the project. With the final form of the self-built platforms left undefined, one can easily imagine that the cheapest and easiest mode of construction would be chosen most often. Possibilities for basic construction include a simple walkable roof in place of the asbestos one, or extending the house by raising the height of the roof. These choices cannot themselves be planned; indeed the strength of the project lies precisely in this uncertainty, and in the freedom of the inhabitants to choose whichever solution they wish, or none. Therefore, in this prospective third phase, with the acceptance and replication

of the platforms, the number of these structures begins to increase throughout the district and their surfaces together begin to delineate a space parallel to street level but higher—an alternative open space above the crowded streetscape of Dharavi. This replication pattern could in fact change the diffuse use of the platforms. While a limited number of platforms scattered across the block would inevitably limit them to private use, once their number grows their use could become increasingly public. While private and public cannot truly be separated in an area where space is so scarce, one could imagine a more private use replicating the functions of the home, and a more public one replicating those of the street. If this latter

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happens, which seems probable, then in a fourth phase the municipality would build simple connections between the platforms in order to increase their usability within the community as a whole (SEE FIGURES 11–12). CONCLUSION The intention of this project is to address the scarcity of open space in Dharavi. Our aim is not to solve all of Dharavi’s problems in the manner of the redevelopment plan: obviously, enormous issues relating to such matters as hygiene and infrastructure would persist.

The strength of the project lies precisely in the freedom of the inhabitants to choose whichever solution they wish, or none. The project is a design experiment that attempts to utilize the technique of incremental building, already widely used in informal settings, for purposes other than to create simple housing units and in ways that go beyond ex novo designs. The application of guided incremental building in the design of public spaces could lead to an easier coexistence between the formal and informal dimensions of densely populated urban landscapes, and could potentially be applied in other settlements. As Mehrotra puts it, the study of Dharavi should serve to prepare the discipline to work constructively in numerous similar settlements currently sprouting across the developing world. In the best tradition of designers like Aravena and thinkers like Friedman and Habraken, this proposal aims to stress the underestimated potential of incremental building as an organic way to intervene in an extremely complex urban texture, as opposed to the oversimplifying and violent practice of destroying to build anew. It is our belief that design can play an important role in allowing new voices and perspectives to contribute to the decision-making around urban life, infrastructure, and planning.





Sustainability is shaped by the interconnectedness of all the integrated systems in our world. Recently our understanding of sustainability has expanded to encompass not just ecological factors but economic and social well-being as well—the so-called triple bottom line of sustainable development.1 Culture too has now been identified as another aspect of sustainability.2 How can design—especially design geared toward nonindustrial small and medium enterprises (SM E s) that work with natural materials—play a role in this evolution? And why do most design-led initiatives fail to actualize their potential as enablers for holistic sustainability, despite being ideally positioned to do so?

Design decisions and specifications have a significant impact on sustainability due to their economic, environmental, social, and cultural implications; in fact, design structures an entire productionto-consumption system (PC S ). Raw materials requirements influence ecological sustainability; the production process and distribution of the economic gains of the production affect social and economic sustainability through the dynamics of labor and trade; and the understanding of humanity’s place in the natural world encouraged within consumptionbased economies is increasingly impacting the viability and sustainability of the world’s inherited cultural identities and traditions. More than 70 percent of the costs incurred over a product’s life cycle, including product development, material production and processing, fabrication, distribution, use, and end-of-life handling, are

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determined by design decisions.3 However, because industrial production depends on a division of labor, each of the stakeholders in an industrial PC S , including designers, lacks a systemic perspective on how these ecological, social, cultural, and economic implications of mass production jointly impact the overall sustainability of our socioeconomic practices. The situation is further compounded by globalization, which has spread the constituent elements of PC S s farther apart than ever before in order to reduce labor costs. Nonindustrial SM E s in developing countries have become hubs of cheap labor as well as new markets, creating consumers who can buy the products they and other laborers produce. Fuelled by a newly acquired purchasing power and influenced by a globalized media apparatus, this segment aspires to a lifestyle typical in the industrialized nations. As another result of globalization, more workers in developed countries are unemployed or underemployed and can only continue spending through the use of consumer credit; in developing countries, on the other hand, the influx of competitive industrial products has left many traditional craftspeople with little option but to abandon their craft practices in search of more lucrative employment as de-skilled assembly line producers. Both of these situations are unsustainable. Given the scale of production and population growth in many developing countries, this unsustainability is only magnified when designers facilitate the preservation of familiar Western industrial models. In “designing for billions,” it is therefore imperative to look beyond designing primarily for user-friendliness or affordability, in order to develop products and services whose PC S systems create and maintain sustainability in all its dimensions.

The aim of sustainable innovation is to generate collective benefits for the environment, society, economy, and culture. To do so, it is often necessary to challenge traditional, non-holistic industrial design approaches. Clearly, there is a need for alternatives that allow for communication and collaborative decision making and participatory design—alternatives that designers are ideally placed to facilitate, since they are skilled at intuitively “uncovering evidence of emotions, values and meanings, and are particularly adept at communicating often ethereal or esoteric information.”4 What barriers do designers face in developing systemic, design-led approaches to sustainable product innovation?

1 John Elkington, Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business (Oxford: Capstone Publishing, 1997), 9.

The Rhizome Approach

2 Nancy Duxbury and Eileen Gillette, Culture as a Key Dimension of Sustainability: Exploring Concepts, Themes and Models (Ontario: Center of Expertise on Culture and Communities, 2007), 5.


3 Sissel A. Waage, “Re-considering Product Design: A Practical ‘Road-Map’ for Integration of Sustainability Issues,” Journal of Cleaner Production, 15 (2007), 640. 4 Nathan Shedroff, Design is the Problem: The Future of Design Must Be Sustainable (New Haven: Rosenfeld Media, 2009), 238.

• Failing to approach sustainability holistically by

not addressing social, economic, and cultural factors alongside the better-known ecological factors

• Inability to mainstream sustainability concerns

in the business system, thereby failing to facilitate the sharing of sustainability-related experiences and concerns

• Failing to integrate sustainability criteria alongside traditional criteria such as quality, technology, and sales volumes at a strategic corporate level and therefore in the design brief

• Focusing on product end-of-life environmental impacts and clean-up rather than addressing sustainability holistically at the conceptgeneration or design stage

• Lack of focus on achieving sustainability across

product supply and value chains, from the original equipment manufacturer (OE M ) to end-oflife disposal5

Design-craft collaborations offer a unique opportunity to leapfrog Western-style unsustainability in developing country SM E s. In contrast to industrial design, craft is driven by the integration of tacit knowledge and skills, bioregional awareness, and traditional practices, all of which link into a

single system determined by the interconnectedness between people, land, materials, and energy. By tapping into the indigenous knowledge of craft communities, designers can leverage the systems of social, ecological, cultural, and economic sustainability that underpin them.

In contrast to industrial design, craft is driven by the integration of tacit knowledge and skills, bioregional awareness, and traditional practices, all of which link into a single system determined by the interconnectedness between people, land, materials, and energy. Collaborating with craftspeople offers designers a window into PC S s that have evolved organically, and affords the opportunity to be part of a localized, transparent value chain in which all stakeholders have greater accountability to one another and to the outcomes, intended and unintended, of the PC S . Collaborative innovation also offers the potential for designs that call for nonindustrial, labor-intensive, localized, and community-centric systems—in short, PC S s that are in line with the concept of holistic sustainability. The Rhizome Approach—named after bamboo’s complex, underground rhizomatic root system— offers a flexible methodology for collaborative, sustainable innovation, especially in the context of a craftsperson-designer team. This allows for the dual leveraging of craft and sustainable design, particularly given the analo5 Dorothy Maxwell, William gies between the two Sheate, and Rita van der Vorst, concepts. “Sustainable Innovation in Product and Service DevelopIn a natural rhizome ment” (paper presented at the system, each root 8th International Conference, Towards Sustainable Product merges with others, Design, Stockholm, Sweden, forming a stable mesh October 27–28, 2003), 4.

network that prevents soil erosion. Similarly, the Rhizome Approach to sustainable product development is intended to be an adaptable guide consisting of steps that are independently sustainable, and that together prevent the erosion of social, economic, ecological, and cultural capital. The seven-step system addresses the major identified barriers to sustainable innovation in product and service development, as described below. Step 1: GAIN knowledge about sustainability through secondhand information In order to design sustainable products, designers must understand sustainability as a systemic construct that rests on interconnected ecological, economic, social, and cultural factors. These factors must be constantly considered, both singly and systemically, throughout the design process, although most industrial designers lack the relevant expertise and knowledge to do so. The first step of the Rhizome Approach is therefore to bridge the knowledge gap on sustainability, including its linkages with craft and design, by informing designers through focused presentations and written material. Step 2: PROVIDE Holistic Oversight of PCS through exposure visits In Step 2, didactic learning is supplemented by experiential visits to the different nodes of the PC S in order to help designers internalize how the interlinked actors of the value chain together affect the overall sustainability of the PC S . These dynamic experiences function as a kinesthetic learning tool that sensitizes designers to the PC S as a whole, and to the value chain from a more comprehensive point of view. Step 3: Include Sustainability at a strategic level through the Rhizome Framework Because holistic strategies to achieve sustainability and reduce unsustainability are not often part of

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organizational mandates, designers lack both an immediate reference point and the backdrop of the larger organizational scheme. Step 3 therefore focuses on sharing the framework outlined in the Rhizome Approach with participants to promote development of an overarching strategy on the possibilities of sustainable design-craft engagements. The framework proposes a model to conserve cultural capital, which can then be decoded for use in three design directions: “expressive,” “glocal,” and “prosumer” (SEE FIGURE 1). The expressive direction proposes aligning craft with art through limited edition, exclusive products, following the models of studio-based craft and of haute couture; the aim is to create an aspirational market demand that will trickle down to larger market segments. The glocal direction proposes sustainably crafted product lines for domestic and foreign urban markets. Finally, the prosumer direction proposes rural production for nearby rural markets, based on the idea that self-sufficiency can be obtained by creating networks in which producer and consumer belong to the same cultural or ideological group.

Form Generation


Product range, Application

Structural Species-Wise Mechanical Physical Properties

Technique, Process Tools

Technology & Production Protocols

Symbols, Rituals, History, Context, Traditions


Tactical to Formal Documentation

Collaborative Innovation Between Craft & Design

Cultural Repository Expressive Ritual

Glocal Prosumer


FIGURE 1: Rhizome Framework.


By tapping into the indigenous knowledge of craft communities, designers can leverage the systems of social, ecological, cultural, and economic sustainability that underpin them.

In short, the Rhizome Framework aims to address the entire sociocultural and economic pyramid, beginning at the pinnacle with exclusive products (expressive), moving to the middle with mainstream products (glocal), and extending to the bottom (prosumer). Sustainable products are positioned at the top of the pyramid in order to increase the desire for sustainability among buyers lower down. Step 4: Include sustainability in the design brief through the Sustainability Checklist Without a clear brief articulating the desired criteria, the onus of incorporating sustainability is on the designer—a difficult task when sustainability has not traditionally been part of the expertise of the design function. Step 4 therefore focuses on providing a clear design brief that includes sustainability, supplemented and elucidated by a sustainability checklist. This checklist includes generic elements of every production-to-consumption system, including material selection, production, distribution, use, and end-of-life handling. Relevant sustainable design parameters, and the aspects of sustainability they influence, are listed at each stage, along with the potential of craft to address those parameters. Understanding the systemic impact of the PC S through the various parameters enables designers to strategize for sustainability. The checklist throws light on the criteria that make a product more holistically sustainable, and serves to indicate sustainability factors achieved once the product is developed.


Sustainable Design Parameter

Ecological aspect

Economic aspect

End-of-life handling considerations

Designed for disassembly



Hazardous materials easily isolatable for separate disposal

End-of-life handling to provide employment for local communities through recycling

Social aspect

Cultural aspect

Craft process

• •

FIGURE 2: Sustainability checklist for analysing end-of-life handling considerations.

As an example, the end-of-life handling section of the sustainability checklist is illustrated here (SEE FIGURE 2). A product that is designed for disassembly positively impacts the local ecology because it allows the various components of the product to be cleaned, repaired, and used as inputs for new products, or disposed of safely. Economic sustainability is positively impacted when the reused parts provide value in new material life-cycles. Step 5: encourage Collaborative innovation through dialogUE and technical backstopping In order to transition from a pipeline design sequence to an integrative design process, an organization must provide bridges between its diverse actors. This situation parallels the craft PC S , where design, production, and marketing are anchored in a single person or small group, thus allowing for constant dialogue and coordination. Step 5 of the Rhizome Approach fosters the development of systems, methodologies, platforms, and frameworks that create linkages and interactions, thus facilitating communication, collaborative decision-making, and participatory design.

STEP 6: Measure sustainability achieved against the Sustainability Checklist Step 6 aims to increase the accountability of designers by measuring the sustainability of their designs against the sustainability checklist. Evaluation by the designer and two other experts enables investigator triangulation, resulting in a number indicative of the sustainability quotient of the product. This result can then be used as a reference for further development, and figured into the marketing strategy. Findings from the evaluation also allow designers to reconsider aspects of their design to achieve better holistic sustainability during the final product actualization phase. STEP 7: attain Final Product actualization In the traditional pipeline design sequence, production, cost, and marketing revisions often occur after the product is realized, by which time the design team is essentially disbanded. Changes in the product are often made without input from or agreement on the part of the original designers. As a result, nobody has a bird’s-eye view of the product and the cascading effect that design changes may have on its overall sustainability. Step 7 incorporates the necessary tweaking that results from the evaluation

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FIGURE 3: Exposure visit to Waghai village.

FIGURE 4: A craft participant presents directions for the glocal group.

FIGURE 5: Craft and design participants interact during ice-breaking sessions.

FIGURE 6: Design and craft participants collaborate on their products.

process in Step 6, as well as feedback from actors across the PC S . The design team is kept in the loop, along with other collaborators, until the final actualization of the product.

Design and the Indian Institute of Crafts and Design. The craft segment was represented by 23 Kotwalia craftspeople who work mainly with bamboo. The craftspeople were linked to two NGO s: the Tapini Bamboo Development Center and the Eklavya Foundation. Trialing was used to determine whether inputs from different stakeholders can inform design and whether, through scenario analysis, attention to the interdependent aspects of sustainability would lead to more holistically sustainable design methods, decisions, and outcomes. Bamboo crafts were selected as the focus for the trial because bamboo is both an ancient craft material and has recently been in the spotlight for its use in sustainable design. It is an ecologically sustainable and highly renewable timber

TRIALING OF RHIZOME APPROACH IN BAMBOO SECTOR The Rhizome Approach was trialed through a multiinstitution, 14-day workshop held at the Design Innovation and Craft Resource Center (DICRC ) at the Center of Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEP T ) in Ahmedabad, India.6 The 23 participants included design professionals as well as recent graduates, postgraduates, and students from 6 See CEP T ’s Faculty of


replacement that restores degraded lands, prevents soil erosion, and mitigates water pollution. Additionally, bamboo is native to and thus easily available to communities across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and its long fibers can be easily processed using simple tools, keeping capital investment low for bamboo-based enterprises.

Ignoring bamboo’s social and cultural sustainability potential pushes indigenous communities even further down the value chain. Industrially processed bamboo has been promoted as an ecofriendly and commercially viable material. However, this material—generally produced in capital-intensive industrial facilities that limit the participation of impoverished bamboo producers—does not address bamboo’s social and cultural sustainability potential. Instead of helping communities leverage the new market opportunities that sustainability presents, in the case of bamboo the design profession has unwittingly helped push these communities even further down the value chain. From participating in all processes from growing to sale, their role has been progressively limited to the low-value functions of growing, managing, harvesting, transporting, and primary processing of bamboo. Against this background, the workshop aimed to test whether the Rhizome Approach could help facilitate the development of collaboratively designed, holistically sustainable bamboo products.

TRIAL Step 2: PROVIDE Holistic Oversight of PCS through exposure visits In Step 2, participants visited bamboo and timber production facilities to experience their dynamics first-hand, and travelled to Kotwalia villages to interact with the community (SEE FIGURE 3). They also toured an industrial-scale woodworking factory and a smaller, more labor-intensive craft unit in order to internalize the differences between these two types of PC S . TRIAL Step 3: Include Sustainability at a strategic level through the Rhizome Framework Step 3 involved sharing the rhizome framework and strategy with the design and craft participants. Participants were divided into expressive, glocal, and prosumer groups, where they engaged in interactive discussions and brainstorming exercises (SEE FIGURE 4).

TRIAL Step 4: Include sustainability in the design brief through the Sustainability Checklist Workshop participants were divided into designercraftsperson teams and briefed to design a commercially viable product (economic sustainability) made from mature, sustainably harvested bamboo (ecological sustainability), using local production capacities (social sustainability) that leverage indigenous knowledge systems (cultural sustainability). The parameters of the sustainability checklist were explained and discussed with design participants, and each team was given a copy of the checklist to use throughout the design process.

trial Step 1: GAIN knowledge about sustainability through secondhand information

TRIAL Step 5: encourage Collaborative innovation through dialogUE and technical backstopping

Step 1 of the Rhizome Approach was actualized in the trial by sharing a digital knowledge kit with the participants that included reading materials on bamboo, sustainability, craft, design, and the Kotwalia community. Presentations on these topics were followed by interactive discussions.

Ice-breaking exercises were conducted to ease communication and collaboration within the designercraftsperson teams (SEE FIGURE 5). The teams continued to collaborate during the design and development process, while facilitators provided input from craft, bamboo, sustainability,

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FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL Questionnaires were administered to the design participants both before and after the workshop in order to map changes in key concepts around sustainability and craft. Findings include the following:

• 100% of the workshop participants were more

familiar with concepts relating to sustainable development following the workshop than they had been previously.

• 75% identified more sustainability-related models after the workshop than before.

• 100% understood the PC S better after the exposure visit.

• 70% felt that the three directions identified by

the Rhizome Framework—expressive, glocal, and prosumer—are relevant directions for craft.

FIGURE 7: External expert evaluates product.

• 65% found the sustainability checklist very help-

ful in understanding concerns and factors at each stage of the product life cycle.

and interior-spaces perspectives, supplemented by presentations from other people with expertise in different areas of the PC S (SEE FIGURE 6). TRIAL STEP 6: Measure sustainability achieved against the Sustainability Checklist Products developed during the workshop were evaluated against the checklist by the designers themselves, and evaluated externally by a community expert and a design thinker-practitioner (SEE FIGURE 7). In order to provide direct and continuous feedback for further reference, these evaluations were interactive. TRIAL STEP 7: attain Final Product actualization By the end of Step 6, each of the twenty-three teams had designed and developed a working prototype ready for further development and refinement. Changes were suggested by production and marketing experts, as well as by the designers themselves, based on feedback from Step 6. These changes were discussed and implemented.


• 61% used the checklist somewhat during the

innovation process, 30% barely used it, and 9% used it a lot.

• 22% would have used the checklist more if they had had more time, 9% if using it was made compulsory by the client.

• 91% are likely to use the checklist for future sustainable design work.

• 81% felt that their final product would have been different without the collaborative process.

• 67% found the external evaluation against the

sustainability checklist very helpful in rethinking their design with regard to sustainability.

• 100% felt their design could be improved after

self-evaluation against the sustainability checklist.

STATUS OF RESEARCH Since the bamboo workshop, the Rhizome Approach has been shared with a focus group

at Delft University of Technology’s Sustainable Product Innovation (SPI N ) project in Vietnam7 and used in a live design project for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (U N IDO )8 and SPI N . Initial analysis of feedback indicates that the approach can work in different geographical and cultural contexts. The DICRC adapted the Rhizome Approach for their Space Making Wood Workshop in 2012, showing that the approach can be used for materials other than bamboo.

stakeholders. It is hoped that these findings contribute to formulating a roadmap for more sustainable design, especially in the context of SM E s working with natural materials in developing countries.

Conclusion Industrialization, especially in its current globalized form, has caused designers, like the other actors in PC S s worldwide, to lose sight of the systemic picture. This makes it difficult to approach sustainability in a holistic manner: designers seek to address immediate issues, such as the fragile ecological situation, rather than looking for integrated sustainable solutions. It is critical that designers go beyond capitalizing on the market opportunity that green design presents, to develop products that can contribute to systemic and integrated social, economic, ecological, and cultural sustainability. Because the contexts of these problems and their solutions are diverse, a singular approach, in which the design function is solely vested in the designer, will not hold for every situation. Homogenization of sustainability models and sustainable design approaches threatens the diversity of the earth’s regions and cultures, much as economic globalization does now. Flexibility in structuring the scholarship, knowledge base, and practice of sustainable design according to different contexts may therefore be a driving force for the greater overall sustainability of our practices. Globalization does not necessarily have to mean homogenization. The Rhizome Approach is a methodology to facilitate an inclusive innovation process of collaborative design that views and addresses sustainability in a holistic manner. It is relevant not only to the design of products using renewable materials in laborintensive situations—that is, in developing countries in general—but also to traditional industrial design practitioners seeking to collaborate with different

7 See 8 The specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. See www.unido. org/index.php?id=7840.

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SERENA ALCAMO studied architecture Turin Polytechnic, conducting research about sustainable innovation applied in the International Expo areas. In 2011 she earned her Master of Science with a thesis about the informal context of the slum of Dharavi in Mumbai, India. She spent a period of time in India in 2010, carrying out direct research and interning at U R BZ : User-Generated Cities, working with local inhabitants. Serena has participated in international conferences in Belgium and in Australia along with her research partners Daniela Bosco and Valeria Federighi. She is currently serving in an architecture internship at MVarchitects studio in Turin, contributing to significant private and public commissions, and participating in international architecture and urban competitions. Since 2012, Serena has been part of the architecture collective VDaS, a young group focused on research and international competitions. DANIELA BOSCO is a licensed architect from Turin, Italy. She studied architecture at Turin Polytechnic, where she earned her BArch in 2008, with a research project based on sustainable design in open spaces as an opportunity for urban regeneration, and Master of Science in 2011 with a thesis about the informal context of the slum of Dharavi in Mumbai, India. In connection with her thesis research, she spent a period of time in India in 2011, interning at U R BZ : User-Generated Cities, and working directly with local inhabitants of Dharavi. Along with research partners Serena Alcamo and Valeria Federighi, in 2011 Bosco presented some of her research in international conferences in Belgium and Australia. She is currently collaborating with an architecture and engineering office in Turin, working on renovation and interior design commissions for public and private clients; and with CB Architects in Turin, preparing entries for national architecture and urban design competitions. Bosco is also part of the architecture collective VDaS, a young group focused on research and international competitions. MANUELA CELI holds a PhD in Industrial Design and is currently a researcher in the Department of Industrial Design, Arts, Communication and Fashion at Milan Polytechnic. From 1999 to 2009 she cooperated with the School of Design there, designing educational programs, coordinating orientation projects and tutoring activities for foreign students, and managing the student internship program. She has been a lecturer on industrial design in Milan Polytechnic’s Furniture Design and Product Design BA programs since 2006. Her research interests focus on forms of knowledge related to design and their use and translation into skills within learning systems. She is in charge of the secretariat of the Advanced Design research group and she has deepened her studies in this area, being interested in methodological approaches, process design and the


front end of innovation. She edited the book Advance design: method, paths and tools to enable continuous innovation, published by McGraw-Hill Italy in 2010. VALERIA FEDERIGHI is a licensed architect with a BArch and MArch from Turin Polytechnic. Her Master’s thesis project addressed issues of incremental design and explored ways of combining “informal” and “formal” building in the slum of Dharavi in Mumbai, India. In April 2012 Valeria earned a Master of Science degree in Design Research from the University of Michigan; her research there dealt with the exploration of interstitial spaces in media and the cityscape, and focused in particular on the relationship between the city of Detroit and the practice of “Ruin Porn” photography. Valeria’s work experience includes internships at AndersonAndersonArchitecture, San Francisco; U R BZ : User-Generated Cities; Isolarchitetti, Torino; and a position as Teaching Assistant at Turin Polytechnic. With Serena Alcamo and Daniela Bosco, Federighi has participated in international design conferences in Belgium and Australia. She is part of the architectural research collective VDaS. ROBERTO IÑIGUEZ FLORES holds a BA in industrial design from the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and an MSc in design management from Valencia Polytechnic in Spain, where he is currently a PhD candidate. His research concerns center on the strategic dimension of design in developing regions, and on advanced design processes. Since 1996 he has worked closely with industry on projects related to design in different fields. In 2003 Flores helped launch the BA in industrial design at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Guadalajara, and in 2005 he co-founded the Advanced Design Center there, a research lab that promotes innovation through design in the Mexican territory. He is currently Associate Dean of Architecture and Design, and Design for Innovation Research Chair at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Guadalajara. LAURA MATA GARCÍA holds a BA in Industrial Design from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico, and an MSc. in Environmentally Friendly Product Design from Turin Polytechnic. She was a junior research fellow from 2009–2011 in a financed project that aimed at sparking design-driven innovation in small-to-medium enterprises (SM E s) in the Mantua area of Italy. She is a member of the Latin Network of Design as a Process, a network of researchers and practitioners from Latin American and Southern European countries. She is a member of the Advanced Design research unit in the Department of Industrial Design, Arts, Communication and Fashion at Milan Polytechnic. She is also a PhD candidate at Milan Polytechnic, where her research focuses on the role of design and designers in entrepreneurship. García is currently a visiting researcher at the School of Economics at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland.

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LOU YONGQI holds a PhD in urban studies from Tongji University, where he is Vice Dean of the College of Design & Innovation and Executive Director of the Sino-Finnish Center. He also holds a visiting professorship in the School of Art and Design at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Active in promoting interdisciplinary sustainable design education, research, and practice internationally, Lou sits on many design-oriented boards and advisory committees worldwide. In 2002, he founded the studio Tektao, seeking to deepen his research-based design practice; the studio has completed numerous projects in the areas of architecture, urban design, and exhibition design. Lou’s published works include the books Tektao Files (2007), Environmental Design (2008), and An Acupunctural Design Approach (2011). He is also the author of many published papers on urban planning, innovation, and design research. SONIA MANCHANDA is a graduate of the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. As co-founder and principal of Idiom, one of India’s largest integrated design consultancies, she works in the areas of business design, brand identity, and visual communications, consulting with large corporations and small businesses alike, in sectors including healthcare, education, retail, hospitality, sports, media, and entertainment. Frequently involving civic values and public/private partnerships, Manchanda’s practice has included work on national cultural events, urban development initiatives, and the identity of the 19th Commonwealth Games held in Delhi in 2010. She is the creator of SPR E A D , a radical design education and consulting initiative, and has played a lead role in DR E A M:I N , an open source innovation project that employs design thinking to create value for life and society across the developing world. JOÃO TEZZA NETO trained in Economics at the Federal University of Acre, Brazil, and has pursued a career focused on sustainable economic development in the Amazon rain forest, specializing in the initiation and management of certification processes for forest products and services. As Director of the Department of Markets and Forest Extraction of Acre, he coordinated the construction of productive infrastructure and the preparation of business plans for forest products, especially Brazil nuts. Neto participated directly in the creation of social criteria for the Brazil nut that in 2000 were approved by the fair trade certification agency FLO International. Subsequent positions have involved him in projects including the development of socio-environmental criteria for assessing the sustainability of fruit production across the Amazon. He currently serves as Technical-Scientific Director of the Sustainable Amazon Foundation, part of a team responsible for implementing the Bolsa Floresta (“forest allowances”) program, which rewards traditional communities in the Amazon Protected Areas for adopting alternatives to deforestation.


BRUCE NUSSBAUM is Professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons The New School for Design. A former Assistant Managing Editor for BusinessWeek, his work at the magazine includes founding IN: Inside Innovation, a quarterly innovation supplement and the Innovation & Design online channel. He also launched BusinessWeek’s coverage of the annual Industrial Designers Excellence Awards, the BusinessWeek/Architectural Record Awards for architecture, and The World’s Most Innovative Companies survey. Nussbaum’s cover stories at BusinessWeek include “The Power of Design: How IDEO Is Changing The Way Companies Innovate” and “Get Creative: How To Build Innovative Companies.” Nussbaum is the author of three books: The World after Oil: The Shifting Axis of Power and Wealth; Good Intentions, an inside look at medical research on AIDS; and Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire. His essays have appeared in The Best Business Stories of the Year 2002 and The Best American Political Writing 2004. Nussbaum has received the Personal Recognition Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America and the Bronze Apple award from the New York Chapter of the IDSA . In 2005, he was given the John F. Nolan Award by the Design Management Institute. In 2005, I.D. magazine named Mr. Nussbaum as one of the forty most influential people in design. In 2008, he was a finalist in the annual Design Mind Award given by the National Design Museum of Cooper Hewitt. Nussbaum leads workshops on design and innovation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He holds a BA in political science from Brooklyn College and a Masters degree in political science from the University of Michigan. REBECCA REUBENS trained formally as an industrial designer, and now works at the intersection of design, craft and sustainability. A large part of her professional practice has been for the development sector, and includes work with international bodies such as the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (I N BA R ) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (U N IDO ), in Europe, Asia and Africa. Her core expertise is in the materials bamboo and rattan. She also has an independent practice through her design firm Rhizome, which promotes the use of renewable materials processed by small craft-based producers as a route to holistically sustainable products. Reubens is currently pursuing a PhD at the Design for Sustainability subprogram at Delft University of Technology, focusing on the links between design, development, and sustainability. CARLOS TEIXEIRA is Associate Professor in the School of Design Strategies, Parsons The New School for Design. He has 20 years of experience in design and innovation projects in Brazil, India, and the U.S. Teixeira applies innovative

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methodologies and design tools in the areas of new business development, open innovation, value chains for innovation and co-creation, and brand strategy. In Brazil he has developed projects for the National Cancer Institute and MetrôRio. In the U.S. he has served as a consultant for McDonald’s and Dow Chemical, and developed a project in partnership with the United Nations Development Business (U NDB ). In India he has led a co-creation workshop for T VS Motors, and is currently the co-director of the open innovation platform DR E A M:I N . Teixeira is often invited by universities, companies and associations in Brazil, the U.S., Europe, and Asia as a lecturer and manager of co-creation workshops. His research and teaching at Parsons focus on strategic design, with several published articles on the subject. He is also the founder and coordinator of Design Knowledge Networks, an international network of strategic design experts. Teixeira holds a PhD in Design from the Institute of Design in Chicago, Illinois. In Brazil he graduated in Design from the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. MARTIN WOOlLEY is Associate Dean of Research at the Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University, U K . With an early background in industrial design, his research interests have broadened to encompass technology transfer, the crafts, environmental sustainability and user-centered design. He has supervised and examined numerous research degrees, and been active on many U K and international research bodies. As a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts his contributions have included writing the “Design Directions” Sustainable Design student brief for several years, and chairing judging panels. He recently served in the role of Principal Investigator on two major projects, an EU Fifth Framework project which focused on sustainable pedestrian routes in major European cities, and a U K EPSRC/A HRC project which examined the interpersonal communication potential of smart textiles and sensor technologies. He previously directed the three-year, H EFCE -funded “Demi Project” which established extensive sustainable design learning and teaching resources for U K universities on the Internet. In recent years, he has combined personal research interests with the challenge of directing art/design research within several universities, including Goldsmiths College and most recently, Central Saint Martins in London. Among several other degrees and honors, Professor Woolley was one of the first people in the U K to obtain a PhD in Industrial Design, for a thesis entitled “Design, Product Identity and Technological Innovation” (1983). He has served on the U K Government Research Assessment Exercise panel twice, and was a member of the U K Arts and Humanities Research Council panel for three years.


HAIAN XUE is a doctoral candidate and design researcher working in the Department of Design at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. After obtaining a Bachelors of Engineering in Industrial Design from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and an MA in Art and Design from Beijing Institute of Technology, Xue started his design research career in 2008 at Central Saint Martins in London, moving to Aalto University in 2010. In 2012, Xue was a visiting scholar at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. His current research interests include product/brand experience, design strategy, design/brand heritage management, service design, and designing for the Chinese market. Xue has published several research papers and given presentations regarding different parts of his research in many countries, including the UK, Finland, the U.S., Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, South Korea and China.

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Profile for The Journal of Design Strategies

The Journal of Design Strategies Volume 6  

Designing for Billions

The Journal of Design Strategies Volume 6  

Designing for Billions