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the connecting forces of design




can the city grow wild?


what design can do!

in 2012 What Design Can Do! explores the positive and negative sides of a connected world and the role of designers in this.





what design can do!




credits INITIATORS Richard van der Laken Graphic designer Co-founder of De Designpolitie

EDITORIAL BOARD Richard van der Laken (chairman)

Pepijn Zurburg Graphic designer Co-founder of De Designpolitie

Femke van Gemert

Femke van Gemert Textile designer and trend forecaster Tirso Francés Graphic designer Co-founder of Dietwee Ontwerpers Laurens van Wieringen Product and furniture designer Founder of Studio Laurens van Wieringen GENERAL DIRECTOR / CREATIVE DIRECTOR Richard van der Laken BUSINESS LEADER Lisette Schmetz SCHMETZ Projectmanagement & Consultancy in Design FOUNDATION BOARD Job van der Pijl chairman Liesbeth in ’t Hout secretary Arnoud van Dommelen treasurer

Pepijn Zurburg

Mark de Kruijk director of Westergasfabriek Renny Ramakers co-founder and director of Droog Sjarel Ex Director Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Timo de Rijk Professor of Design Cultures Tet Reuver Owner/initiator Labminds


Laurens van Wieringen Lisette Schmetz Tim Vermeulen Premsela foundation Alma Ploeger Netherlands Architecture Institute Marten Kuijpers Netherlands Architecture Institute Robert-Jan Marringa Design Cooperation Brainport Piet Paris Fashion illustrator Jochem Leegstra Creative Director | Partner ...,staat PRODUCTION Chris van Bokhorst CVB Productions & Projectmanagement for Creative Industries Remco Wagemakers Sonora productions Flore Vollaard Elizabeth Minns Christina Franken

WDCD AMBASADORS Melle Daamen director of Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam

BOOK & WEBSITE DESIGN De Designpolitie

Tamara Dekker BOOK & WEBSITE EDITORS Bas van Lier Billy Nolan REPORTERS Brendan Cormier Lotte van Gelder Cassandra Pizzey Jennifer Sigler

PR Come Office for strategic & creative presence WEBSITE FRONT-END DEVELOPMENT & CMS PMS72 PRINTER LenoirSchuring RentXerox Part of this book was printed and bound during the event PAPER Antalis Coloraction What Design Can Do! is developed as part of the DDFA Programme and with SNS Reaal and Mondriaan Foundation. The event is furthermore made possible by the cooperation of our partners and sponsors mentioned on the previous pages. © 2012 What Design Can Do! Amsterdam. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. Although every effort was made to find the copyright holders for the illustrations used, it has not been possible to trace them all. Interested parties are requested to contact What Design Can Do! Graaf Florisstraat 1a, 1091 TD Amsterdam, The Netherlands,

what design can do! CONTENTS 6. prefaces WDCD, DDFA & SNS REAAL fonds 8. INTRODUCTION 2012 THEME: connect 10. ESSAYS DISCUSSING THE CHALLENGES 28. 2012 SPEAKERS WHO THEY ARE 54. interviews showcasing solutions 62. WDCD REPORT WHAT THEY SAID 70. breakout sessions prompting answers 86. growing exhibition generating ideas 88. conclusions 2012 after two days of wdcd


what design can do BY the initiators

what design can do! The end of ego

At the Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, I walked through a big exhibition of work by British star designer Tom Dixon. At the end of the exhibition I entered a small room where a lady introduced me to a peculiar line of products. I was looking at the ‘eclectic collection’ by Tom Dixon, the lady explained. Products for the ‘small purse’, ranging in price from 50 to 300 euro. The most remarkable item of all was a copper shoe. Her explanation revealed that this shoe belonged to…Tom Dixon. Made of cast copper. For the man with the small purse. I was stupefied. I think this example perfectly illustrates where design has gone in recent years. The so-called star designer was born, and unique products are auctioned for vast sums of money. Now, a few years after the crisis and with the next one probably looming on the horizon, we all feel that something has changed. Whether you are a baker, a banker, a police officer or a designer, things have changed. During the first What Design Can Do! conference, Jurgen Bey argued that design cannot solve everything. And he is right. But nonetheless, designers operate from the very heart of society, where they constantly connect with clients, the public, consumers, users, colleagues and others. That offers designers ample opportunity to take responsibility for change. Design is more than a nice vase (or a cast of Tom Dixon’s shoe). Design can offer alternatives, can solve problems, can break taboos. That is What Design Can Do! It is an appeal to the creative industry, to business in general, and to the public at large to recognize the impact design can have in making our world a little better. Richard van der Laken on behalf of the initiators of What Design Can Do!


what design can do BY sponsors

what design can do! Designers need to connect

what design can do!

Wilful, innovative, self-reliant

Last year, many people took a leap of faith in committing themselves to the first What Design Can Do! conference, by buying tickets, showing up as speakers, or sponsoring the event. And they were amply rewarded. Two inspiring days at the Amsterdam city theatre saw designers from across the globe addressing some of today’s most urgent issues through their work. This year’s program was even more promising. The theme ‘Connect’ was aptly chosen. To have any chance of a sustainable future, we need to share our knowledge and experience, and to collaborate, on a worldwide basis. Design at its best can help make these collaborations more focused and effective. And What Design Can Do! can help design to do that. Christine de Baan Programme Director Dutch Design Fashion Architecture

Making enterprising, cultural and extraordinary social initiatives possible: that is our mission. SNS REAAL Fonds supports remarkable projects, large and small, in the fields of Art & Culture, and Youth & Society. Wilfulness, innovation and self-reliance are important criteria for this, and they connect very well with the goals of What Design Can Do! After just one conference, this event has already become indispensable, and it offers a wonderful platform for social design and design thinking. By programming across disciplines and boundaries and by questioning the importance of design for society, WDCD inspires both professionals and the general public. Marie Hélène Cornips General Manager SNS REAAL Fonds


what design can do to connect

what design can do! to connect


INDEX:AWARD winner, A low-cost warmer that provides thermal support to preterm newborns


Connect with life Back in touch with the real world With technology controlling our lives almost permanently, people start to feel out of touch with real life and increasingly desire to reconnect. They value face-to-face contact over Facebook again, appreciate locally or even home-grown food over processed industry foods, and chose natural materials over synthetic ones. As the ones who decide in most cases how, where and of what products are made, designers are in a position to lead the way in this area.

Connect with communities The new democracy Empowering ordinary people to discover their collective abilities and to change the course of history is one of the successes of social media. Digital and mobile networks have increased people’s independence from state and privately owned media in exchanging information. Even outside the digital realm, this new democracy has led to a renewed focus on the value of communities. Everywhere people are connecting so they can take their fate into their own hands and seek alternatives for faltering, harmful or unfair systems.

What Design Can Do! presented some of the most promising visions and practical solutions in this field.

What Design Can Do! is an international gathering of design professionals from all disciplines, who come together to manifest the social potential of their profession. The crossover between professionals from architecture, product design, graphic design and fashion design is intended to provoke new, multidisciplinary solutions. The overall theme for the second edition was Connect.

Until recently, people interconnected mainly within their local communities. Today the world is one global village, where everybody and everything seems to be connected. People, countries and economies are increasingly interwoven thanks to the almost limitless possibilities of digital and wireless networks. This infinite connectedness opens up countless opportunities for new forms of solidarity, helpfulness, neighbourly relations and co-operation. The flipside is that people sometimes seem to lose their grip on things. They are overwhelmed by the overload of information and feel powerless against economic and political developments that seem to evolve of their own accord. Such feelings drive people to long for disconnection, to sign off from Facebook, Twitter and the lot and to withdraw from forms of international co-operation like the European Union or the euro currency. This can lead not only to a renewed focus on close and immediate networks of family, friends and local communities, but also to a more grim celebration of nationhood and homeland. Designers of all disciplines are in a position to embrace, facilitate, improve, exploit, simplify and make manageable the unbounded interconnectedness among people. What Design Can Do! explored the positive and negative sides of a connected world and the role of designers in this through four subthemes.


what design can do to connect

What Design Can Do! examined the designer’s contributions to these processes.


STEPHAN DOITSCHINOFF, Installation  FOR Museum of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Connect with users Towards a brighter future Designers have always been the intermediary between producers and users. It is their task to highlight the benefits of a product, brand or service, to improve its features and strengthen its appeal. Designing requires a good understanding of client goals and user demands. Connecting the two is what designers do. Their intermediary position gives designers the power to encourage either side to adopt new thinking and behaviour.

Connect with cultures The value of differences Increasing mobility and cheaper communication drive international exchange and migration. The cultural diversity of societies across the globe is increasing. As a consequence, people are more and more challenged by cultural differences. At the same time, there is a danger that all differences will eventually blend into uniformity. A growing appreciation of the value of differences leads to all kinds of projects that cherish the peculiarities of distinctive (sub-)cultures, as well as projects that stimulate mutual understanding.

What Design Can Do! explored the interaction between designer and user on the way to a brighter future.

What Design Can Do! looked at what the designer does to bridge the gap.

what design can do! 4 essays discussing the challenges



KIGGE HVID connect with life

georgette koning connect with communities



KEES DORST connect with users

MOHOR RAY & RAJESH DAHIYA connect with cultures

what design can do to connect with life

what design can do! for LIFE


what design can do to connect with life




Kigge Hvid is co-founder and CEO of INDEX: Design to Improve Life®, a Danish-based non-profit organization established in 2002 to promote and apply both design and design processes that have the capacity to improve the lives of people worldwide. The main driver for this is the INDEX:Award, a global biennial design award, with five prizes of €100.000 in five categories the largest cash design prize in the world. Hvid is a frequent panellist and themesetter at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos and is a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design. She is a member of the international advisory board of the Hong Kong Design Centre and received an honorary doctorate from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California in 2006.

In today’s world, the most important question for designers is not how to design things, but what to design. Our world is struggling with huge problems, such as water shortage, poverty, pollution, child mortality, planning of mega cities, lack of energy sources, and climate changes. In these circumstances it is of great importance that designers and design students understand their role in addressing the challenges we face. Designers today should not design more pretty white teacups or more chairs that look like all the other chairs we already have. Instead, they should focus on designing solutions that improve people’s life. Solutions that are actually needed. Currently, we live in a time where we know more than before, have more resources, more technology and are more experienced in solving the problems that threaten society than before. We also see that more and more people are getting involved in addressing these problems, and designers luckily take part in this too by applying their abilities to help design and manufacture things that we desperately need. Designers have realized that their choices here and now have a huge impact on the future. They have the ability to improve life, and they take responsibility to respond to the world’s pressing issues by producing good design. INDEX: Design to Improve Life® calls this ‘respondability’. Both the quantity and the quality of the entries that we received over the years for our biennial



what design can do to connect with life


what design can do to connect with life

INDEX: Award illustrates this development. For the 2011 award we received a record number of 966 designs by designers representing 74 nations – from Argentina to Zimbabwe – up from 721 entries from 54 countries in 2009. Growing and full of energy When we announced the finalists for the very first INDEX: Award in 2005, the entire area was new. We had coined the Design to Improve Life concept only three years previously and we, as well as the rest of the design world, were striving to get to grips with this new thinking. Many of the finalist projects were mere concepts and ideas, but they opened up a whole new perspective on the power of design. In 2007, the finalists and winners of the second INDEX: Award were announced. Still somewhat insecure, but growing and full of energy, we saw many students picking up on the thinking. We saw an emphasis on tools for healthcare and many water related designs. We saw electric cars looking and performing better than traditional electrical vehicles, which used to look like chest freezers and golf carts. And we also saw many more realized projects. By 2009, we and the entire area of Design to Improve Life world could proudly announce: ‘Hey, we are here! We have matured.’ And with a wink we could add: ‘And we intend to stay alive, alert, listening and moving forward.’ The world seemed to be catching up, and the exponential growth of the design and Design to Improve Life area was enormous. In 2009, large international corporations also joined the club, including Better Place and Phillips, and in the group of finalists we saw a focus on design addressing many of the UN Millennium Goals, i.e. poverty and hunger, maternal and child health, environmental issues, etc.. And in that same year, all designs were at least developed to the prototype stage. Water was still an issue as were electrical cars – now performing better and looking cooler than ever. Last year in 2011, we could proudly announce that an entire industry had changed. We are now living in a world where most design schools focus at least part of their curriculum on Design to Improve Life. We see design awards with all or some of their categories focusing on Design to Improve Life. We see companies, designers, local and national governments, and design centers starting to understand the importance of Design to Improve Life. We also see hundreds of award competitors in a world where we were alone nine years ago. But we don’t see them as rivals. Instead, we regard them as partners and friends alongside us. Some might worry that Design to Improve Life is a buzz and that it’ll end. We don’t and we are certain, we will stay and we will keep focused.




Proven impact In 2011, we reached the stage were our jury was able to look for proven impact, not just ideas. The five awards of €100,000 each went to realized and implemented designs. Among the recipients, for example, was VerBien, a free eyeglasses program for Mexican children, designed by former INDEX: Award winner Yves Behar (One Laptop per Child, 2007). It is a collection of customizable and corrective eyewear that is specifically designed for children and young people aged 6-18 years and helps them to perform better in school. The other awards went to Elemental’s highly innovative social housing project in Monterrey, Chile, to the Indian Design for Change program that gives children the opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into practice, to Swedish Hövding head airbag for bicyclists, and to Seoul’s strategy to design people-oriented solutions for public spaces, solving social, environmental and public health issues and simply called Design Seoul. These are all examples of design thinking deployed to improve or even save the lives of thousands of people. Good design can no longer be assessed by its form and function alone. Instead, good design should be focused on addressing

the form, the impact and the context in which the design will be used and produced. Meaning that designing is about new ways to solve problems and about being conscious of the fact that every choice in a design process has huge future implications. Good business These examples – as well as many of the earlier award winning projects – also show that there is good business in designing products that make the world a better place. In fact, designing and producing products that improve life is the best answer to the current economic crisis that our ‘consume and dump culture’ has brought upon in. Innovation is mandatory for the survival of pretty much all companies in the Western world in order to survive, because competing on price is most often not an option. But the problem many companies then encounter is the question what to innovate? You could try and innovate the concept of a table once more, or you could look into the very big challenges of the world and innovate in that area. Bring clean water to people, design safe working environments for people, come up with solutions for polluted cities, invent cars that don’t use petrol. All over the world there is a real need and therefore a big market for such innovations. When I attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, I noticed that a lot of CEO’s of the biggest companies are scared, because they realize

they have to innovate but don’t know how to do it. Designers are in a position to help these CEO’s in both fields. Designers who design ‘to Improve Life’ are not just assuming responsibility for their own design. These designers also assume responsibility for making the right choices, for considering the environment, ethics, aesthetics, financial and technological aspects. In this way, designers are producing good design that is economically viable and that aims to make a positive difference to people locally or globally and thus change the world for the better. I would therefore urge young designers to look into the needs of the world and then address them by design, by education and by all the many skills you have.

Designers today should not design more pretty white teacups or more chairs that look like all the other chairs we already have.

what design can do to connect with COMMUNITIES

what design can do! FOR COMMUNITIES


what design can do to connect with COMMUNITIES



Nonetheless, the street is still the setting for disturbing fashion, with a main role set aside for fashion labels that would prefer to attract publicity for other reasons.

BY GEORGETTE KONING design iris van herpen, photo ingrid baars

Georgette Koning is a Dutch fashion critic who writes for Dutch newspapers including NRC Handelsblad,, Het Financieele Dagblad and Het Parool as well as the Dutch edition of Vogue and style magazine Elsevier Stijl. She trained as a fashion designer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and worked for several years in Paris, designing for retail chain Prisunic as well as Thierry Mugler. She finally ventured into fashion journalism and has published a number of books, the latest of which is an illustrated fashion dictionary entitled Mode van A tot Z (Fashion from A to Z), which she made together with fashion illustrator Piet Paris.

Fashion reflects the world we live in. It responds and anticipates faster than every other design discipline. Clothing is a screen we can retreat behind. It protects us not only from wind and rain, but also from the gaze and judgement of others. Our clothes empower us to influence the judgement of others and conceal who we really are. Fashion is not only a shield but also a sword. It enables us to show who we are to the world outside in an aggressive manner and to show we don’t care about their judgement. The clearest illustration of that is punk clothing, which amounted to a declaration of war against everything that was middle-class and conventional. And, thirty years later, black leather, studs, rips and safety pins are still enough to cause a fuss. Sword and shield are often closely connected to each other. The youths that hang around with hoodies pulled way down over their foreheads seem withdrawn into themselves. I am who I am, and I feel happy in this formless and uncomplicated warm sleeping suit, and I really couldn’t care less if I look like a big baby. It is precisely that disinterest, echoed in the body language, that evokes unease among parents. It is these passive and aggressive aspects of fashion and clothing that I want to explore here. Clothing and protest There is sporty fashion, romantic fashion, chic fashion. But can fashion arouse aggression? Can fashion cause disorder? Can fashion provoke?

And how is it designed then, with what forms, colours and materials? In recent years we have seen a revolt against the global glamourization of royalty, film stars and pop stars in the dark designs of Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens. But their fashion is grounded in aesthetics, not in idealism. These rebels are not really revolting against anything. All they do, like so many others today, is pursue a slightly darker aesthetic — witness the horror in many successful films and TV series. We have to go back over thirty years in time for fashion that expresses an aggressive challenge to society. Punk is primarily a style of music, but when it started in 1977 it was also a fashion revolution, complete with dyed mohawk hairstyles, slashed leather jackets, and lots of black clothing covered with primitive drawings and subversive slogans. Chains, locks and dog collars around the neck symbolized a shackled generation. In terms of outward appearance, punk was the last conspicuous youth culture. Today’s Occupiers are the punks of yesteryear. All the more remarkable, therefore, that the sympathizers of the Occupy movement do not express their dissatisfaction through clothing. An explanation could be that, in contrast to punks, Occupiers come from various age groups. Your typical Occupier is well-read and educated. Justin Stone-Diaz, leader of Occupy Wall Street, has a fashionably trimmed beard, wears cheerfully striped polo shirts and easygoing cardigans.

He is the prototype of the modern activist, a far cry from Johnny Rotten who screamed his punk message out loudly, even with his clothing. Clothing and unrest Nonetheless, the street is still the setting for disturbing fashion, with a main role set aside for fashion labels that would prefer to attract publicity for other reasons. Many people involved in the riots last year in England were wearing Adidas. With a hoodie or a cap over their heads, they felt protected from the ever-present cameras. But though their faces were well concealed, the logos were all too visible. Adidas was thus unintentionally associated with crime. Similarly, when Anders Breivik appeared in a Lacoste shirt, alarm bells definitely sounded at the French label. Luckily for Lacoste and Adidas, the media didn’t make too much of the issue, and the brands also let it pass quietly. Fred Perry also keeps a watchful eye on distribution. In the late 50s its shorts became popular among British mods, then among young working class skinheads yet to express far-right sympathies. Ever since, various groups and subcultures have felt attracted to the polo because the shirt contains an echo of rebellion. The laurel wreath stands for victory and exudes nationalism, positivity and toughness. It’s been pretty quiet recently around the skinheads, but if that changes, it has repercussions for the label.

what design can do to connect with COMMUNITIES

raf simons

Stylish they are not, but highly dangerous: the Al Qaeda suicide Moslem children wrapped in big coats that hide a belt of bombs. In hotbeds like Pakistan and Afghanistan, the attire worn by youths conveys suspicion. On the catwalk in Paris or Milan no fashion journalist will draw such a connection after seeing the 2012 Winter Collection from Comme des Garçons, with larger-than-life jackets and coats under which you could conceal plenty of bombs. Volume offers a sense of protection, yet it is also intimidating. A cloak of evil. Can fashion be malicious? Ever since big business started ruling the fashion world in the early 1990s, catwalk fashion has scarcely been a social indicator any more. It’s simply a money maker. Are designers really blinkered? Or do they genuinely convey the sentiments of society with their collections? Look at this summer’s collections and ad campaigns and you would swear that there’s nothing more peace-loving than the summer of 2012 with its sweet cocktail of pastels, an ocean of floral patterns, and an explosion of colour. It’s as though we’ve returned to the folly of the hippie era. But the sense of cheer will only last till the autumn, because in the new winter collections the mood is sombre, threatening and dark. The play of volumes has a aggressive undertone. What needs to happen for designers to realize there’s a crisis in the world? Should we cynically conclude that designers do not respond to what many ordinary people have been experiencing for years now? Is it because only now their primary target group, the super rich, are


design tom tosseyn

Should we cynically conclude that designers do not respond to what many ordinary people have been experiencing for years now? feeling the effects of the credit crunch? Stylistically, punk was based on the do-it-yourself principle. The Sex Pistols were its inspiration, a creation of their anarchic manager Malcolm McLaren, and designed by his then wife, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, responsible for the band’s outfits. She based the style on the attire worn by bikers and prostitutes — leather, latex and bondage straps. Punk garb is the most aggressive style of clothing ever since medieval knights moved around in suits of armour designed as a rock-hard shell and to impress opponents. ​ lothing and aggression C Armour and fashion still speak the same language. That was made clear some ten years ago at the Kunsthistorisches Museum when suits of armour were exhibited next to the pleated pieces

what design can do to connect with COMMUNITIES


design balenciaga, photo david sims

Advertisement balmain

of Roberto Capucci. The same effect would have been achieved with work by Iris van Herpen, whose armour fashion is currently displayed at the Groninger Museum. Van Herpen’s robotlike creations are anything but comfortable. Her pieces look like cages or forts, designed to defend or protect. In reality, however, the 3D-printed skeleton-like pieces are delicate and fragile. Not only fragile but also feminine forms can look aggressive. You can arm yourself with the opposite of covering: exposing. To shock by exposing: that is also a form of rebellion. Revealing a breast explicitly, a low-cut dress can evoke fear and aggression. So, too, can the whole gamut of feminine weapons, including not only long, pointed nails and high heels but also tattoos and piercings that say ‘keep away’ yet also scream for attention. Punk was anti-everything. Trouser-legs were tied together provocatively with bondage straps as a metaphor for a generation that felt chained in the world of their hard-working parents. But the safety pin, once the symbol of underground and youth rebellion, is now a mainstream classic. Vivienne Westwood, the grandmother of punk, now markets fashionable safety pins of white gold set with diamonds all over the world. Clothing that provokes and disrupts: we haven’t witnessed it since the days of punk. Logos occasionally cause an uproar. Sometimes a piece of body decoration will raise eyebrows. Most tattoos have lost their power, however, even though the bodies of gangsters still strike fear into us. But

think of next winter’s black leather clothing and countless accessories fitted with pointy metal studs, and we can draw just one conclusion: fashion has taken the sting out of punk. Fashion has made violence bearable, and wearable.


what design can do to connect with users

what design can do! for SAFETY


what design can do to connect with users




Kees Dorst is Professor of Design and Associate Dean (Research) at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is the founder and director of the Designing Out Crime (DOC) research centre, a joint initiative by the University of Technology and the Department of Attorney General and Justice of the state of New South Wales. Dorst is also Professor in Entrepreneurial Design of Intelligent Systems at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. Kees Dorst trained as an industrial design engineer at Delft University of Technology. He has worked as a product designer for various design firms, and his research work looks at the way designers work. On this topic he has published numerous articles and five books, including Understanding Design – 175 Reflections on Being a Designer (2006) and Design Expertise (2009) with Bryan Lawson.

Safety has become a major issue for us. Just follow the news and you’ll notice that at least half the time on all television bulletins and half the space in newspapers is devoted to safety issues. Society is confronted by a wide variety of crime-related issues in the public domain that affect our personal and public wellbeing. These issues range from the relatively innocent problems of bicycle theft and loitering teens to threats of terrorism. There are two broad ways in which we can react to this. First, we can make sure we are well defended and hide from the public domain as much as possible. Or second, we can make sure we are friends with everybody and feel safe this way. These contrasting reactions are advocated at either end of the political spectrum today. But neither of these reactions will work. By being defensive and mistrustful and withdrawing from the public domain, we only further the depopulation of public space and the collapse of society. On a personal level, this leads to isolation and loneliness. Yet the very social alternative is plainly impractical in our complicated and diverse society. We just cannot get to know everybody well enough and build relationships of trust and respect. That may have worked in a traditional village, but not in today’s cities. The public discussion oscillates between these two extremes, and uneasy compromises are being formed, with a trend towards a more defensive approach. We are now surrounded by measures to counter crime (safety cameras, fences, airport

checks), which limit our freedom in public spaces. This defensiveness is reinforced by the problem modern people have in dealing with risk in their lives. Discussions in society and politics that centre on eliminating all risk miss the point that life is inherently risky, that complete elimination is therefore impossible, and that by minimizing risk we could harm other valuable aspects of our lives. Designing Out Crime Design has come to the fore of late as a third way of dealing with these pressing issues, and designers are involved in many safety-related projects. They demonstrate that design practice can provide alternatives to conventional problem-solving strategies. In 2007 the New South Wales government and the University of Technology in Sydney established a Designing Out Crime centre (DOC) that uses design practices to revolutionize the way we deal with the need for safety and security in society. Central to the DOC approach is the pledge to avoid the creation of ‘countermeasures’, because they are invariably ugly, restrictive and remind us of crime – thus making us more fearful and wary. This climate of fear destroys the open-minded interchange between people from different backgrounds that forms the social fabric of our society. The DOC approach, based on research into the way experienced designers work, focuses on the creation of new frames that allow us to

approach problems in new and fruitful ways (see insert). To quote Einstein: ‘A problem can never be solved in the context in which it was created.’ This rings very true. Many projects the DOC centre has taken on are old problems, in the sense that the partner organizations involved in these projects have already been dealing with these issues before. But somehow these particular problems have proven impervious to their usual problem-solving strategies. A new approach, a new ‘frame’ is needed to achieve progress. The DOC approach is also very situated: problems are often generalized and simplified too much by the problem owner, and inspiration for resolving them can only come from looking at the broader and much more complicated problem situation. This is the starting point for developing the so-called frame creation methodology that has been applied with great success. The following three examples give an idea of the kind of reframing involved in these projects. 1. Organizing a party against crime The city of Sydney has been tackling the problems of Kings Cross, its entertainment district, for a very long time. There has been massive investment in the quality of public space, police presence has been stepped up, clubs have hired more security personnel, and security cameras have been installed. Yet the problems of drunkenness, fighting, petty


what design can do to connect with users


theft and drug-related crime persist. Crime fighting measures do not seem to work. DOC designers quickly realized this is because the 30,000 young people that party there every Friday and Saturday night are no criminals. This fun-loving crowd could be compared to a goodsized music festival, but a well-run music festival would provide lots of facilities that have are not available in Kings Cross. For instance, when organizing a music festival one would provide good transport around the time that people want to leave, create chill-out spaces and continuous attractions, design an app so people can find out how long the wait is for the next attraction, employ a group of very visible young guides in bright T-shirts to help people find their way and to offer help when needed...and so on. About thirty solutions emerged from this key framing metaphor (‘a music festival’). It integrates a huge number of issues and takes the discussion away from one of criminality. The image of the music festival, in all its complexity, can be understood and shared by the many stakeholders involved. 2. Better and safer Shoplifting is a common crime, and retailers do not want countermeasures that make their goods less attractive. That is quite a paradox: how to make it hard for thieves but not impede the shopping experience? In this DOC project we quickly focused on a small number of goods that get stolen repeatedly because there is a black-market network in place

where these goods can be sold easily. One solution (out of many) is quite simple: by broadening the front of the shelf, we increase the action required to reach the product, and so a potential thief cannot easily slip large quantities of goods into a bag. At the same time, genuine customers enjoy the extra product information and the light that comes on as they reach for the product. This actually improves the experience for shoppers, and it makes the goods look more precious while making them harder to steal in any quantity. 3. Attracting crowds The city of Eindhoven has done everything it can (better signage, information campaigns, website, extra police deployment) to alleviate traffic congestion around the city’s annual marathon, which is a major nuisance to locals. One group of DOC designers proposed the creation of themed

Measures against shoplifting elicit quite a paradox: how to make it hard for thieves but not impede the shopping experience?


what design can do to connect with users


zones along the marathon route to lure the crowds away from the centre of the city. These zones are a great opportunity for the city and regional companies to present themselves to a largely well-educated crowd visiting the city for that single day. The zones are also interesting to firms looking to recruit new staff. These new stakeholders can come on board and transform the event to express the identity of the city. In the last four years, the DOC centre has delivered 73 similar, very successful projects, and the same frame creation methodology is now used in new projects in different places. The message that design can actually increase public safety and reduce crime, while also improving public spaces, is beginning to be heard around the world.

Frame creation The Designing Out Crime centre works with a special frame creation process that is based on research and experiments in practice. It is quite different from conventional problem-solving processes and the common approach to innovation, and contains nine steps to frame creation. In these steps, the oscillation between analysis and creation (co-evolution) that is central to design thinking is combined with a movement of zooming in and out (from detail to abstraction and back again) and a shift in focus from understanding the core problem to widening the context, then back again to refocusing within a broadened problem arena, so that new frames can emerge. Central to these three movements is the phenomenological analysis that leads to the basic themes from which new frames are created. The first four steps lay the groundwork, and the last three steps explore the implications of the potential frames. The frame creation method is explained in detail in the book Frame Creation by Kees Dorst, which will be published in late 2012.

what design can do to connect with cultures


what design can do to connect with cultures

what IN SEARCH design OF THE INDIAN WAY can do!


Despite the emergence of multiple forums showcasing design in India, there is little knowledge of the behind-the-scenes stories of designing in and for India.



Rajesh Dahiya and Mohor Ray are the founders of CoDesign, a brand communication design studio in Gurgaon, just outside the Indian capital New Delhi. They both studied graphic design at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad. Dahiya also studied interaction design in Ivrea, Italy. He teaches typography, software user interface and basic graphic design courses as visiting faculty at NID. Apart from the studio’s work for brands including Levi Strauss, Titan watches, Reebok, Tata and many other Indian brands, CoDesign initiated several projects that try to grasp the true face of modern Indian design. The UnBox Festival is the youngest of these adventures.

In recent times, conversations and questions around ‘What is Indian design’ have begun to feature prominently in design and innovation forums across the country. Products, services, brands, communication and other design interventions are being examined closely by a triad of users, producers and innovators, to determine their suitability and sensitivity to the Indian context. Identity, being closely linked to culture, is a complicated matter in a country as profusely diverse as India. Across the country, manmade rituals of language, celebration, food and apparel alter every few hundred kilometres. For centuries, India has nurtured a culture of assimilation and integration – absorbing and creating hybrid expressions from the heritage of its conquerors, travellers and other settlers. This makes it difficult to separate what is truly Indian from what is adopted. Furthermore, a rich heritage of craft heavily influences the perception of identity in design. The familiarity of what we know as Indian and traditional sometimes poses a steep challenge to deviation and innovation. There are likely to be multiple answers to this debate around the Indian identity­– and it is quite in the spirit of a multicultural society that several answers will find acceptance in parallel. The key is to look at the search for ‘an Indian way’ not as a definitive solution-finding exercise, but as a long-term, multi-pronged effort to build a body of knowledge around design in India that can serve as a valuable reference for discourse.

As a design agency working with local and international brands for a predominantly Indian audience, we are often faced with comments like ‘This does not look Indian’, or references to clichés as ‘This is Indian’, ‘This works for India’. A fair percentage of widely available and consumed design products work on accepted clichés of ‘Indianess’, thereby further perpetuating these beliefs in the eyes of the market, clients and design community. Despite the emergence of multiple forums showcasing design in India, there is little knowledge of the behind-the-scenes stories of designing in and for India. Dialogue only around a few, finished examples of design precludes knowledge-sharing about experiences, alternative viewpoints, failures and revelations that inspire, but are often hidden behind the success of design projects. For students and young practicing designers, there is little access to the real-life experiences of designers in India. Body of knowledge In the face of this collective need, we began efforts to build a body of knowledge and encourage a deeper discourse on design in India. As of today, the efforts have taken shape along three different channels, each recognizing a gap in our existing body of knowledge, and geared towards building platforms curated and created by designers. The newest of these is the UnBox Festival. Cofounded in 2011 with three creative practices based in India, the festival is a multi-sensorial

blend of experiences spanning a conference, fellowships, exhibitions, workshops and cultural events aimed at bringing an interdisciplinary approach to design-thinking for innovation in India. Part of the distorted and frivolous view of design in India is caused by its isolation from practices of development, business, technology, arts and governance. With the UnBox festival, we seek to break down these silos and start meaningful conversations at the intersections of multiple sectors, deploying design thinking as an active agent of change and rooted in the Indian context. The second of the self-initiated projects is in collaboration with India-based design research consultancy Quicksand. Design research is a new and relatively unknown field in India. We felt a pressing need to share the efficacy of design research as a tool for innovation with the student and creative community in India. While there are several international publications available on the subject, there was an opportunity to base the communication on an Indian context, bringing familiarity with the context and environment to the reader. The ongoing publication project is called Get Out! It uses the ‘The Potty Project’ – a study of user behaviour around public sanitation in low-income settlements in urban India undertaken by Quicksand on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – as the base to share experiences with design research. The format is that of a workbook, allowing readers to add their own notes, observations and opinions, during the use of the book.

what design can do to connect with cultures


What has happened since you finished the project?










While the shift to Bengali was happening in the eighteenth century, modified Bengali letters were introduced in in Meitei Mayek. When they were trying to revive the original Manipuri script a hundred years later, there were a lot of disagreements. Most of the older manuscripts were burnt, except for the Wakoklol Thilei Salai, which had stories about the script. But, depending on which copy of the book one found, the number of letterforms changed and there were many arguments about each copy’s authenticity. In the 90s, some people came up with a total number of twenty-seven, which they called the EEyek Eipei. These are the ones taught in schools now.

what design can do to connect with cultures


You don’t usually see that happening in your lifetime—two scripts. So this is the interesting phase—this is what excites me—there are so many things, so many things one can do.

Meetei Mayek is now part of the curriculum. Like any other subject students have Meetei Mayek as well—there are books and text books. There is even a two-three year oldnewspaper that prints only Meetei Mayek. I spoke to the publisher and he said they are trying to print it in the interests of the next generation . They don’t make any profit—some people are supporting the cause genuinely. A new group of people—young students and kids—are learning a new script. My generation—and a couple of years younger— had grown up with the Bengali script, so we can’t read Meetei Mayek. Even I take time, I have to spell it with effort. But my nephew and niece are happily reading, where their mom and dad cannot read properly. Most newspapers are still printed in Bengali. But as the children grow up, they will have their own script. I am planning on designing more typefaces for Meetei Mayek.

Lom Eeyek Nine additional characters assigned to Bengali phonetics which have been incorporated in Manipuri

spread in dekho: Conversation with young type designer—Neelakash Kshetriyum on his maiden attempt to


design a typeface for a dying Indian script

We did not want designers to stow away this book on their bookshelves. We want them to carry it around during field research, add their notes, get it dirty – we want them to really use it. With this publication, we hope to encourage more thought into developing effective tools to understand users, for designers working in India. Inspirational conversations The first of the self-initiated projects, which has been the longest in the making and is now nearing completion, is called Dekho. To understand the fine connections between tradition, culture, modernization and design, and to inspire a truly ‘Indian’ way of design, it is imperative that we nurture and create repositories of knowledge. This body of knowledge should provide room for introspection, for reflection. It should provoke new questions. Most of all, it needs to be real, honest and bold, based on the experiences of practitioners in India. Dekho is an anthology of inspirational conversations with designers in India, probing their stories for cues as to the development of design in India and to highlight approaches that are unique to designing for India. In 2007, Dekho began as an idea, fuelled by constant conversations within the studio about the lack of Indian heroes for young design students. For the next few months, working through an intimate network of contacts within the community, we travelled – meeting and

To understand and to inspire a truly ‘Indian’ way of design, it is imperative that we nurture and create repositories of knowledge. recording conversations with designers whose thoughts and work struck a chord with our quest for the unique context of Indian design. The experience of the raw content that we gathered was overwhelming in parts. With the first prototype of Dekho as a publication in our hands, we paused to consciously think about our role as curators and creators in this. After an extended break, the effort behind Dekho was revived with greater clarity. People and places were revisited for stories within stories, for contexts that had changed in the interim, for new people who had inspired us. Within a period of 3-4 years, there had been a great surge of activity in design forums and platforms in India, yet surprisingly, the stories in Dekho had not yet found an audience elsewhere.

Today, Dekho has shaped up as a book of conversations. Dekho means ‘to see’ in Hindi. It is a simple word, as is the intention behind the project: to ask the right questions. What the design reader may make of the answers will make for a larger shared vision. With these three self-initiated projects – Dekho capturing the stories of the Indian designer, Get Out! providing an Indian context as training ground for user-centric field research, and the UnBox Festival championing the cause of design thinking for innovation in India – the quest for the ‘Indian’ way of design has spread and garnered greater support from design students and practitioners. Responses to funding for all three projects have been varied and sometimes tiring. One could wait for the right patron to commission it, or for the market to mature in its understanding of design writing, curatorship and content-creation. Or, start with available resources, stretch, fail, learn and leap ahead.

Packaging for the Nyoli Women’s Farmers Company, a not-for-profit cooperative for small-scale agriculture, represents the pride of local communities

what design can do!

speakers 2012

Alphadi connect with cultures

Katherine Clarke connect with users

Kees Dorst Febrik connect connect with with users communities

Rajesh Stephan Dahiya Doitschinoff connect connect with with communities cultures INA JURGA connect with life

Kigge Hvid connect with life

Honey & Bunny connect with life

Items Live connect with communities

Hella Jongerius connect with life

Younghee Jung connect with users

Georgette Koning connect with communities

Suzanne Lee connect with life

Harmen Liemburg connect with cultures

Catarina Midby connect with users

Piet Oudolf connect with life

Raumlabor connect with users

Andrew Shoben connect with cultures

Cameron Sinclair connect with communities

Marcelo Paula Scher Rosenbaum connect connect with with users cultures Aditya Dev Sood connect with cultures

Esteban Ucros connect with communities

what design can do for AFRICA




Discipline FASHION DESIGN Nationality NIGERIEN

‘The fashion industry can really help the world to grow, and to end fighting and other big bad things,’ says leading African fashion designer Alphadi, also known as the Magician of the Desert. The founding president of the African Federation of Couture and of the International Festival of African Fashion (FIMA) is a fierce promoter of African fashion. ‘Our goal is to teach the young to love design and fashion, to stimulate black talent, and to make black, yellow and white become one.’

What is your key message at this conference? ‘I want to share how big the impact of design on Africa could be.’

At a young age Alphadi decided to pursue his passion for fashion, which was not an easily accepted choice in the Muslim environment of his home country of Niger. He joined the studio of Chardon Savard in Paris and later worked for Yves Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, Christian Lacroix and others. Thirty years later Alphadi’s name has become a worldwide fashion brand that reflects the African soul. His creations combine the heritage of the African people with an audacious styling of bold lines and western forms. Both as a designer and a propagator of African fashion, Alphadi has been honoured in many ways. He received the 1998 Prince Claus Prize in the Netherlands, rose to the rank of Chevalier of the Order of Merit in France, and named Commander of the Arts and Culture in his own country.

what design can do for URBAN SPACE




Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘My work and my struggle have helped to develop the stature of African fashion. My entire surroundings, my designer and craftsmen friends have been influenced by my work and have understood that these points could have a phenomenal effect on their countries.’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘For Africa the way I know it, I would ask the creative industry to adapt to this continent, so that it will be better understood and will give the economy a push.’ Which websites or books cab you recommend? ‘On the Internet, de websites of FIMA (www.fima-africa. com), Ghubar Magazine (, Fashizblack Mag (, and Timodelle ( ‘As books I would recommend Art of African Fashion (1998) by the Prince Claus Fund. New African Fashion (2011) by Helen Jennings, and L’Afrique est à la mode (2005) by Bérénice Geoffroy-Schneiter.’

ARCHITECTURE and art AS SOCIO-POLITICAL ACTIVISM Katherine Clarke is the artistic half of the collaborative practice called muf architecture/art, active from its London base since 1996. Questioning the rules of architecture that prevailed at the time and going against the grain of the predominant conservative political culture, muf introduced a refreshing approach that did not emphasise building but generated change in problematic urban areas through investigation, negotiation, diplomacy and play. muf seeks to extract the pleasure that lies at the intersection of lived and built space, a method outlined in its 2001 publication This Is What We Do: A Muf Manual. Projects range from poetic street furniture – Pleasure Garden of the Utilities (1999) – to redefined monumental constructions – St Albans Hypocaust Pavilion (2004) – and landscape



projects that feature horses and performances by children – Tilbury Community Gardens (2003). muf’s 2008 intervention for Barking Town Square won the prestigious European Prize for Urban Public Space. The socio-political activism of muf has received national and international acclaim, and the firm was selected to represent the UK at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. On that occasion muf dubbed the British pavilion Villa Frankenstein, and transformed it into a place that focussed on Venice itself, inviting its inhabitants to contemplate the fragility of their city.


what design can do FOR INDIA


SELF-INITIATED WORK TO SET A BENCHMARK Indian designer and brand consultant Rajesh Dahiya assiduously tries to bring Indian design to a higher level. Through self-initiated work his studio inspires and provokes the Indian design community and clients of his agency CoDesign. Dahiya co-founded the UnBox Festival, an annual event that focuses attention on inter-disciplinary innovations and brings together experts and emerging innovators from all disciplines. Furthermore, Dahiya documents inspirational examples of authentic design in modern India in a publication called Dekho (‘To see’). It is an anthology of conversations with designers across India, capturing stories of inspiration, endeavor and learning. Another self-initiated project includes a handbook on design research in Indian context.



Dahiya studied graphic design at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, and attended the masters programme at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy. He now has more than 12 years of professional experience in brand communication, human technology interaction and design education. Since 2008 Dahiya has visited the Netherlands regularly to collaborate with Dutch colleagues who work from a similar mindset. ‘On both sides we prefer not to live in a comfort zone,’ he says. ‘The openness of the Dutch allows for mutual inspiration and added value.’


what design can do for CULTURAL IDENTITY



Discipline art Nationality BRAZILIAN

Internationally acclaimed self-taught artist Stephan Doitschinoff was born in 1977 in São Paolo, Brazil. In his work the son of an Evangelical minister investigates the relationship between the profane and the sacred and questions how religious symbols shape a common identity.

What is your key message at this conference? ‘One key message in my work is that it is possible to live by your own standards. You don’t need to follow any institution’s rules, be they religious, political or social conditioning. It can sound like a punk-rock song, but it can be played in any rhythm.’

Doitschinoff’s art is a powerful mix of many symbolic elements that characterize Brazil: from the Afro-Brazilian culture from the inland, traditional folklore, and graffiti, to modernist artists. Doitschinoff paints in a captivating and playful way. A closer look reveals a critical view on subjects like superstition, mortality and (religious) repression. From 2005 to 2008, Doitchinoff traveled throughout the Brazilian countryside of Bahia, painting murals on adobe houses, chapels and even a cemetery. In the small village of Lençóis, he collaborated with local artisans, and expanded his research into the rich history of Brazilian folklore and syncretism between Christian theology and African spiritual traditions. The trip is documented in his book Calma: The Art of Stephan Doitschinoff, as well as a short documentary film, called Temporal. Doitschinoff exhibited in museums and galleries in the US, Brazil and Europe and is currently represented by Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York.


What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘It is the first time I will speak to an audience outside South America, so I am very exited about showing my ideas and hearing what the other speakers and the audience have to say as well.’ Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘I think the spiritual core of my work is based on the idea that we have always been part of the same evolutional process the led us to consciousness. We are all interconnected.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘Titi Freak’s painting project in Japanese cities that were destroyed by the tsunami.’ Which websites or books can you recommend? ‘All documentaries by Adam Curtis, specially The Trap, Power of Nightmares and Century of the Self.’


what design can do for CRIME FIGHTERS




The Designing Out Crime (DOC) research centre in Sydney ‘applies a Design Thinking approach to find solutions to problems that have proved impossible to solve,’ as their website states. Since the centre’s inception in 2007, the centre has successfully completed 73 projects and its design solutions have improved public spaces and increased safety in Sydney.

What is your key message at this conference? ‘Design can play an important role in solving the unsolvable problems that confront today’s society. Designer’s abilities to create new frames are the key to success. We have the (Designing Out Crime) projects to prove that.’

The DOC centre, founded by Dutch industrial designer and design theorist Kees Dorst, is a joint initiative by the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice and the University of Technology, Sydney, where Dorst is Professor of Design and Associate Dean Research. He also has been appointed as professor in Entrepreneurial Design of Intelligent Systems at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. Kees Dorst trained as an Industrial Design Engineer at Delft University of Technology. He has worked as a product designer for various design firms and as a researcher, he studies the way designers work. On this topic Dorst has published numerous articles and five books, including Understanding Design – 175 Reflections on Being a Designer (2006) and Design Expertise (2009) with Bryan Lawson. He is currently working on a book for MIT Press on ‘Frame Creation, a design-based methodology for driving innovation’.


what design can do FOR DREAMS



What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘A very quick transition from awareness to action!’ Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘My work would be impossible without that – and this is not just a general statement. It is fascinating to strategically pick up the abilities that different cultures are good at, combining them to achieve a single minded mission.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘I have learned a lot form several projects done by the Young Designers foundation, and continue working with them to push the boundaries of what we can achieve.’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘We need to develop the ability to look ahead, and to create long term strategies to face the huge problems we are creating for the planet. Just ‘ problem solving’  by reacting to events is not good enough, the feedback loops are too slow and the underlying issues are too big.’


Discipline SOCIAL DESIGN Nationality MIXED

Design platform Febrik is made up of Reem Charif, Mohamed Hafeda, and Joumana al Jabri, supported by local and international partners. Where there is room for nothing, Febrik creates space. The Lebanon-based collective of architects, artists and designers operates on a variety of scales and in places where social conflict is evident, such as the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan or London’s marginalised Sceaux Gardens Housing Estate. These locations, different in socio-political traits, share one commonality: a ‘layering of functions’, architect-speak for lack of space.

Using a set of education and research tools that ranges from text to photography and from architecture to film, Febrik empowers children who live under such difficult circumstances to rethink and re-visualise their dreams. For these children, dreaming is a means of escape. Febrik unravels their dreams into tangible proportions and works with the children to realize elements of their dreams at a small scale in their immediate environment. As genuine dream-catchers, Febrik realises that the dreams of children today will shape our common future reality.

Within these urban jungles, where public zones for play are lacking, children will always find ways to play. They convert windowsills into imaginary castles or use laundry lines to mark the edges of invisible cities they are not legally able to travel to. Febrik maps these intuitive appropriations and converts them into strategies for urban design.



what design can do for TOILETS



Discipline ‘SHIT’ BUSINESS Nationality GERMAN

WASH United harnesses the power of sports heroes to create excitement around safe drinking WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for everybody, everywhere. Kids can join stars like Arjen Robben, Michael Ballack, Asamoah Gyan and André Ayew in the virtual WASH United football club to end the silence surrounding the sanitation and hygiene crisis. WASH United thus aims to raise awareness, get people excited, and end the taboo of speaking about ‘shit’.

Ina Jurga has never been officially recognized as ‘Miss World Toilet’, but 10 years in the global shit business would qualify her easily. As a civil engineer she has designed and promoted ecological, sustainable sanitation systems. She has worked in China, Uganda, Korea and Switzerland, and has now returned to her home country to work for WASH United as the manager for WASH in schools. Can she kick it? Yes, she can!

Ina Jurga of WASH United will pose a call to action for the designers at WDCD: How can we redesign the toilet experience? How can hand washing with soap become fun so desirable that it motivates and sustains behaviour? WASH United is looking for design innovations that will be featured at the great WASH Yatra in India this year.



what design can do for LIFE



Discipline DESIGN PROMOTION Nationality DANISH

‘Our ten years of experience have shown, through thousands of conversations and thousands of life-improving designs, that design is a decisive factor towards creating a better world,’ says Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX:. That’s why the biennial INDEX:Award honours designs that target and solve the challenges and problems of human life. With five prizes of € 100,000 each, the INDEX:Award is the largest monetary prize for design in the world.

Kigge Hvid joined INDEX: from the start. As an advocate of the humanist tenets of design, Kigge is a frequent panellist and theme-setter at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos and is a member of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design. She is also on the international advisory board of the Hong Kong Design Centre. Hvid is the recipient of an honorary doctorate in 2006 from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

INDEX: was established in 2002 and coined the concept ‘Design to Improve Life’. The Danish non-profit organization works globally to promote and apply both design and design processes that have the capacity to improve the lives of people worldwide. Apart from the award scheme, this is done through educational projects, information programmes for design professionals, and a variety of publications.



what design can do for FOOD


FOOD DESIGN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN POLITICS ‘People should talk about food as an aspect of culture, as the most important good, as business, as a design product of daily life.’ That’s according to Austrian designers and authors Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer. ‘It’s not good that the US president’s wife deals with food, while he does the ‘important politics’. Food is the most important thing we deal with!’ The design duo, working under the name of Honey & Bunny, arrived at this conviction after years of studying food production and food design. Struck by the notion that the desire to design food is what differs humans from all other beings, they became interested in the fields of gastronomy, food marketing, psychology, cultural history, and physics. They presented their surprising findings in the books Food Design (2005) and Food Design XL (2010), a film, and an exhibition. They regularly stage ‘eat design / eat art’ performances. Hablesreiter and Stummerer both trained as architects in Vienna and London. They combine architecture with interior, product and stage design, and writing for newspapers like Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as well for as several architecture magazines.



What is your key message at this conference? ‘That food has always been designed, ever since the beginning of mankind. And that respectful designers should enter the food sector a.s.a.p. because of sustainability, health, consumer rights, fairness, and a big feast.’ What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘Make people think different about food.’ Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘If we weren’t, you wouldn’t have heard of Honey and Bunny.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘No. We’re inspired by daily life.’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘Create fair, democratic, sustainable food solutions. Combine agriculture, food design and food distribution with intelligent, smart ideas.’ Can you mention one or more websites or books that in your opinion every participant of What Design Can Do should see? ‘No. We read what we find.’


what design can do for people



Discipline VARIOUS Nationality VARIOUS

For the launch of each new issue, Dutch design magazine Items organizes a live discussion under the title Items Live. In a special edition of Items Live for WDCD, three up-andcoming designers from various national, cultural and trade backgrounds shared their views on connecting design to users, consumers, citizens, co-creators and stakeholders, also known as ‘people’.

Jimmy Loizeau (1968) London/Geneva Sidestepping the market and commodification, the studio of Auger-Loizeau questions the process that gives birth to consumer products rather than blindly conforming to it. In this way design can comment on consumer culture, the role of products, and the ubiquity and function of technology. It becomes a tool for questioning rather than problem solving. Through the development and dissemination of speculative and critical products and services, AugerLoizeau hopes to instigate a broader analysis of what it means to exist in a technology-rich environment, both today and in the near future.

Items editor-in-chief Max Bruinsma talked with them about their work as social designers. How can design make the processes of conceiving and planning our man-made environment more interactive and participatory? How can design become a critical tool for imagining a more socially connected future? Co-host of this break-out session was Jonathan Maas, author of Wereldverbeteraars, a book on unruly thinkers who help us envision a better world. The three designers were: Daan Roosegaarde (1979) Waddinxveen/Shanghai Studio Roosegaarde is a social design lab with a team of designers and engineers creating interactive designs that instinctively respond to sound and movement. With his studio, Roosegaarde explores the dawn of a new nature that is evolving from technological innovations. The interactive landscape Dune, for example, enhances daily behaviour as it reacts to the sounds and motions of people walking by. Visitors become an active participant and exert a direct influence on the interactive artwork’s identity, which becomes an extension of their collective, social skin. Currently, the studio is working on plans for a smart highway that will generate energy by the movement of the traffic on it.


Ekim Tan Istanbul/Amsterdam Architect and urban gamer Ekim Tan studied architecture in Ankara in her native country of Turkey and urban design at Delft University of Technology, where she is now taking a PhD in ‘human-driven city making’. Hers is a ‘bottom-up’ approach to urbanism, tapping into the experience of city dwellers and stakeholders with their own daily environment, and researching new interfaces for channelling this expertise into the complex processes of urban design. With ‘World of Citycraft’, she is pioneering an IRL game interface for generating models for an urban development project in Amsterdam Noord.


what design can do for PRODUCTS




Discipline PRODUCT DESIGN Nationality DUTCH

‘I want more character. Temperament, liveliness. I want the imperfect combined with industrial products. People are prepared for it,’ Hella Jongerius recently told a German newspaper. No wonder the latest book celebrating her eclectic work is called Misfit. The title refers to Jongerius’s belief that products should bear the visible traces of quality craftsmanship.

Her work has been shown at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, MoMA and Moss gallery in New York, and Galerie Kreo in Paris. Through colour and texture Jongerius hopes to seduce people into affectionate and enduring relationships with the objects she designs. ‘It is my way of being sustainable,’ she says. ‘If you create products that have real meaning for people, they’re likely to last longer because they’ll want to keep them.’

In 1997, only a few years after she graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, Jongerius established her name with a rubber sink for Droog Design. Five years later her work was exhibited at the Design Museum in London. Since then her design company, Jongeriuslab, has worked for leading brands like Maharam, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, IKEA and Vitra. Most recently she designed a Boeing 747 cabin interior for KLM’s World Business Class.


what design can do for RESEARCH




Younghee Jung is an explorer of culture and wisdom from everyday living, with a particular eye for how mobile technology can facilitate social and behavioural changes. In Bangalore, where she headed Nokia’s corporate research team, she worked on concepts for mobile phones for illiterate people and phones with multiple SIM-card slots.

Prototypes and user-research projects she has designed and implemented cover a broad range of topics, from proximity social interaction to Indian text input.

Jung left South Korea in 1998 to study interaction design as a Fulbright scholar. In 2000 she started to work for Nokia in Helsinki, and later in Tokyo and London, before moving to Bangalore in 2010. A product and interaction designer by education, her work focuses on developing insights and concepts for the future. Jung’s passion is to design new ways of understanding and learning from people, beyond the conventional methodologies taught in user or marketing research textbooks. This alternative approach leads to innovative concepts.


Jung is currently based in London as ‘head dreamer’, bridging marketing, design and product development. If you meet her, she might be interviewing you without your noticing it.


what design can do for FASHION



Discipline JOURNALISM Nationality DUTCH

Georgette Koning is one of the Netherlands’ foremost fashion critics. Trained as a fashion designer herself at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, she started working for several fashion houses in Paris, including Thierry Mugler. Since 1995 Koning has worked as a freelance fashion journalist, publishing in the Dutch newspapers NRC Handelsblad,, Het Financieele Dagblad and Het Parool as well as the Dutch edition of Vogue and style magazine Elsevier Stijl.

world of fashion entitled Mode (2006), now sold out. In 2007 Koning also contributed to the book Mode & Accessoires (Fashion & Accessories).

To Koning’s growing list of books she added the illustrated fashion dictionary Mode van A tot Z (Fashion from A to Z) in 2011, a book she made together with fashion illustrator Piet Paris. She contributed to previously published books, including the exhibition catalogue Haute Couture. Voici Paris (2010), and Dutch Design Yearbooks (2009, 2010, 2011). She wrote a comprehensive introduction to the


Facts are important for Georgette Koning, and her knowledge of the fashion world and of the history of fashion is unrivalled. But what really distinguishes her writing is her visionary and humorous eye on the world of fashion. Her own website Independent Fashion Daily is proof of this.


what design can do for BIOCOUTURE



Discipline FASHION DESIGN Nationality BRITISH

If Suzanne Lee has her way, future clothing will be made with ‘green tea, sugar, a few microbes and a little time’. Lee is a designer working at the forefront of biological materials who hopes to grow future eco-products from living organisms. Her BioCouture Research Project focuses on harnessing bacteria to produce cellulose. Her original inspiration to ‘grow clothing’ has broadened to explore various applications for these compostable materials.

What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘I hope it will help to demonstrate and inspire how design can assist us in solving the big issues. That design can dramatically improve our lives and take better care of the planet.’

Through her own start up company Suzanne Lee collaborates with scientists to unite design with cutting edge bio and nano technologies. Her main challenge is to transform renewable resources and waste streams into scaleable quality materials. The ultimate goal is to literally grow products from vats of liquid. BioCouture has received worldwide attention and featured in many design books and journals. Lee is author of the groundbreaking publication Fashioning The Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe from Thames & Hudson. She lectures and exhibits internationally and is a 2012 Senior TED Fellow.


Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘Yes, in so much as I’m appalled by the extent to which ignorant western-style consumerism has spread. I’m driven to find thoughtful,sustainable solutions that harness design to create harmony not harm.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘Right now I think the international iGEM competition is probably the most exciting platform for thinking about design because these teams are literally designing with life. It’s a great showcase for the possibilities of synthetic biology, developing a global, open-source library of standard biological parts. A team from Imperial College London used my BioCouture work as inspiration for their 2008 iGEM ‘Biofabricator’.’ Can you mention one or more websites or books that in your opinion every participant of What Design Can Do should see? ‘The websites and And although it’s a few years old I still think everyone would benefit from reading William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s seminal book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things.


what design can do for PRINT



Discipline GRAPHIC DESIGN Nationality dutch

Harmen Liemburg (1966) started his career as a cartographer before turning to art and design journalism. To maintain his appetite for graphic representation, he sought a larger menu of expression. He attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and became one of a new breed of designer, one closely linked to the world of art, education and museums.

His projects are primarily concerned with the transformation of exhibition spaces through the use of printed matter. In his lectures and workshops he advises students to start by turning off their computers. Liemburg also works as a design journalist, mainly for the Dutch magazine Items.

Liemburg is an artist in the traditional sense. He is obsessed with screen printing and uses the medium to produce unexpected results. His style emphasises the narrative aspect of images and the occasional beauty of the everyday vernacular.

IMAGE POSTERS: LA PIU GRANDE, (2011) 84X118 CM and LA PIOVRA (2011) 84X118 CM


what design can do for ECO-FASHION



Discipline TREND WATCHING Nationality SWEDISH

To most people, eco-friendly clothing is far from fashionable, and too expensive to boot. Fashion retailer H&M wants to offer an alternative with its Conscious Collection, which is both up to date and affordable. The dresses and other items are made of organic or recycled materials. It is a first step towards more sustainable production, H&M’s trend coordinator Catarina Midby says.

What is your key message at this conference? ‘That, for a sustainable future in fashion, it needs to be about fashion AND sustainability, not one or the other.’

‘Today, it’s about finding the right fashion qualities with more sustainable fibres at the right price and quantity,’ Midby explains. ‘But in the future, a green collection may be about garments produced in CO2-neutral factories, or made from waste materials. The criteria for our Conscious Collections are a moving target’ After studying French language in Paris, English language in Stockholm and fashion journalism in London, Midby started to work as a journalist and editor for different magazines. In Stockholm she worked for ELLE magazine and Damernas Värld before being appointed trend coordinator for H&M in 2003. At WDCD, Midby will talk about H&M’s efforts to shift towards a sustainable future. ‘We are a big player. We can have a big impact,’ she says.


Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘Yes, very much so, being the global company we are and working with issues that concern us all.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘All fashion starts with design. For more sustainable fashion, we need to know where to make better choices and to decide what better choices to make in the design process.’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘We all work together at H&M, and sustainability efforts are implemented throughout all levels of the company. We work to make things better and work day after day on improvements.’ Can you mention one or more websites or books that in your opinion every participant of What Design Can Do should see? ‘Maybe it’s better if we all read and see different books and websites and give feedback to and learn from each other.’


what design can do for LANDSCAPES


I LIKE TO CONNECT PEOPLE WITH THE PROCESSES OF LIFE Fast Company called Piet Oudolf one of the most creative business people of 2009, following the completion of his landscape designs for the New York highline. The Dutch landscape architect designed the planting for the elevated park to resemble the wilderness that covered the longneglected railroad tracks. It was obvious that Piet Oudolf was the man for this job. His designs are very much inspired by nature, the feeling for which he recreates in dreamlike, exaggerated landscapes and gardens. ‘I like to connect people with the processes of their own lives,’ he says. ‘What it takes humans a lifetime to experience, a plant will experience in its own yearly life cycle.’ Working from a small village in the east of the Netherlands, Oudolf designs landscapes throughout Europe and North America. These have included parks in Sweden and Germany, public and private gardens in England and Ireland, il Giardino delle Vergini for the 2010 Architectural Biennale at Venice, and the masterplan for The Battery Conservancy in New York. Among the many awards Oudolf has received are an Award of Excellence in Design from the city of New York and an Award of Distinction in 2010 from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) for his contribution to the profession.

Discipline LANDSCAPE DESIGN Nationality DUTCH


what design can do for DIFFICULT LOCATIONS



What is your key message at this conference? ‘My intention is to show that green design in public space is more than a collection of plants.’ What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘I see this conference as an opportunity to meet passionate people with an idea. Inspiration comes from passionate people and creative moments. These do not necessarily have to come from your own world.’ Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘My work is focused on a small market; it doesn’t cover the whole world.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘My favourite current design is the Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne by Sanaa Architects.’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘I don’t see designers providing solutions, but in most cases adding something to the quality of life.’ Can you mention one or more websites or books that in your opinion every participant of What Design Can Do should see? ‘Websites: and Books: Rambunctious Garden (2011) by Emma Marris.’


Discipline ARCHITECTURE Nationality GERMAN

A temporary opera house in a desolate metro station, a train of seven inspirational tables travelling through Geneva, and wood and bicycle building workshops in Parc Grisar in Brussels. These are just a few examples of the urban interventions by Berlin-based architectural collective Raumlabor. The interventions are designed to initiate processes of urban renewal.

Together with local and external actors, Raumlabor tests and examines new areas of action through collective ‘research-based design’. ‘In the process of doing, we learn more through active design about the site of investigation and find new methods that are open to appropriation and upgrade the existing,’ the collective members say. Their action-based approach has taken them outside Germany to Warsaw, London, Liverpool, Paris, Prague, Rome, New York and South Korea.

‘We do not solve problems. Rather, we initiate processes that give actors the opportunity to know, understand and use the city and its dynamics, as well as its possibilities,’ says Raumlabor. The collective of eight architects feels most attracted to difficult urban locations, places that are abandoned, left over, or in transition. Involving local residents as the specialists in their own surroundings is key to the approach of Raumlabor.



what design can do for LIVING




Interior and product designer Marcelo Rosenbaum likes to show his fellow Brazilians how references to personal memories and cultural roots can boost their self-esteem. The founder of the multidisciplinary design office Rosenbaum® in São Paulo spreads his message through his designs and his media performances. These include a popular home-makeover TV show for underprivileged families, called ‘Lar Doce Lar’ (Home Sweet Home). The program reaches over 40 million people every week.

Two iconic projects by Rosenbaum® are the Caruaru furniture designs and the social project ‘A gente transforma’ – We transform. The Caruaru furniture is inspired by the improvisation of the Caruaru Fair, one of the biggest open fairs in the world and a cultural asset to Brazil.

At the Rosenbaum® office designers, architects, producers and media professionals work together on design projects that go beyond spatial design and the aesthetics of the object. Rosenbaum defines living by values like cultural identity, connection, memory and inclusion.



‘A gente transforma’ is meant to transform the social problems affecting families living in precarious conditions into opportunities for integral development. The project uses entrepreneurship to awaken creativity and to make changes inside a community, raising residents’ self-esteem and putting the power of change in their hands. Propagating the use of craftwork in Brazilian decoration is the engine for this.


what design can do for TEMPTATION


Discipline GRAPHIC DESIGN Nationality AMERICAN

Paula Scher has been a strong presence in the design field for almost four decades. As Pentagram’s leading lady — she joined the New York office in 1991 — she has shaped the face of clients ranging from Citibank to Perry Ellis and the MoMA. Scher’s work brightens the city with its exuberant imagery, drawn type, and vibrant use of colour that constantly convince viewers that they want to be a part of it.

was accomplished through ‘serious play’ and is usually the result of encounters with materials she had no previous experience with. The signage projects for several theatres in the 1990s are good examples. To combine type and architecture, Scher ignored the customary panels and simply painted signage onto the walls and floor. In 2001 Paula Scher received the AIGA medal, the highest honour in the design profession, and currently is president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Throughout her career Scher has maintained an open attitude and ambition to reinvent herself. Some of her best work, like the identity for the New York Public Theatre,



what design can do for GREY ZONES



Discipline PUBLIC ART Nationality BRITISH

Greyworld stands for art projects in the public realm. Not the dreary bronze sculptural type of projects, but art that provides the everyday with some unexpected and thought provoking magic. The collective has been shaking up urban zones across the globe since its foundation in Paris 1993 by Andrew Shoben. Art pieces vary from musical trees in a Clockwork Forest, to a huge statue for the Lost Artist that mimics poses of in-expecting passer-by, or a kinetic sculpture that keeps track of the London Stock Exchange’s daily profit (The Source).

What is your key message at this conference? ‘Public art is a strange creature – often having little to do with the public. There is a better way.’

Different as they might be, all Greyworld installations are meant to spark the imagination and activate the creativity of the people on the streets. Specific focus lies on the socalled grey zones of a city that don’t have a clear function or purpose. Through playful and usually highly technological art pieces, Greyworld draws attention to these places and transforms them into engaging public zones. Their most recent work, Trafalgar Sun, a chromatic solar replica over Trafalgar Square, brings commuting Londoners some highly needed bright yellow during bleak winter days.


what design can do for COMMUNITIES IN NEED



What do you hope this conference can achieve? ‘There are minds all over the world actively pondering the world we live in, and how to improve it. This conference should shine a light on that process.’ Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘No, not really. Only that we share our love of play and creativity with everyone else, and the interconnectedness of today’s planet emphasizes that.’ Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘Love this ad for a TV station in Belgium: com/watch?v=316AzLYfAzw. Wish I had made it’

Founder Andrew Shoben is Professor of Public Art at Goldsmiths, University of London and was recently nominated as President of the Royal Society of Sculptors.

If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘More creative opportunity in cities for ordinary people. Less noisy, shouting street visual and sonic bombardment – more opportunity to curate our urban surroundings.’

Can you mention one or more websites or books that in your opinion every participant of What Design Can Do should see? ‘Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak.’


Discipline ARCHITECTURE Nationality BRITISH

Cameron Sinclair is the co-founder of and ‘eternal optimist’ at Architecture for Humanity, a charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need. Over the past ten years the organization has worked in 26 countries on projects ranging from school, health clinics, affordable housing and long-term sustainable reconstruction.

As a result of the TED Prize, Sinclair and Stohr launched the Open Architecture Network, the world’s first open source community dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design. The network recently merged with Worldchanging and now operates under this name. In 2008 Sinclair and Stohr were recipients of the National Design Award for demonstrating ‘that good design can indeed change the world’.

Together with co-founder Kate Stohr, Sinclair compiled a compendium on socially conscious design entitled Design Like You Give A Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises. A second edition of this book will be published in April 2012. Sinclair is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2006 TED Prize and the 2005 RISD/Target Emerging Designer of the Year. Recently he was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.



what design can do for EMERGING COUNTRIES




Aditya Dev Sood is a dedicated promoter of design and innovation as key factors for the development of emerging economies such as India. As founder and CEO of the Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS), an innovation consulting firm, he provides the Indian industry with user research, user experience design, design strategy and innovation management. The focus of his firm has remained on lower income and rural groups, and through contractual consulting engagements it has sought always to bring about market successes as well as the greater societal good.

Sood takes a keen interest in ethnographic research, understanding aesthetic forms and designing innovative research and analysis techniques through which users as well as products and services can be imagined in new ways. He directed three editions of the Doors of Perception conference in India and also curated and designed the multimedia exhibition of everyday technology and material culture called Used in India.

Sood is a Fulbright scholar with two doctorates from the University of Chicago and a wide range of disciplinary competencies, gained through a long and diverse education, including architecture, art history, critical theory, comparative literature, Sanskrit philology, philosophy of language, cultural anthropology, social theory and political economy.

IMAGE website of center for knowledge societies

With support from the Gates Foundation, Dr. Sood has recently launched the Bihar Innovation Lab, a public-private partnership that seeks to use design and innovation methodologies to improve government-delivered services. He is also exploring international partnerships for a proposed Lab-School for Innovation to be housed therein, which would promote design thinking and innovation processes in the public, private and social sectors of India.


what design can do for URBAN GRAPHICS




Así es aquí, this is what it is like here. Reporting from the Andes region in Latin America, the Popular de lujo blog captures the evolving scenes on the streets of Bogotá. A collaborative initiative by graphic designers Juan Duque, Roxana Martínez and Esteban Ucrós, this blog has been online and offline since 2001 as a tribute to the rich visual character of Colombia’s capital. The bustling city is a feast for the eye, a prismatic patchwork of decorated buses, blinds and buildings.

What is your key message at this conference? ‘I want to explain why gráfica popular (vernacular graphic design) is not simply picturesque but a robust genre of design, a valve of self-expression and a force of cultural self-determination for underrepresented populations in our society. I hope my presentation will help the audience remember that there are other ways, other tastes, other standards, that not only need to be respected but from which there’s plenty to learn from.’

Honouring the city’s eccentric characters and landmarks, the blog features everything from the detailed ornaments on flea markets and iconic cafes to Colombia’s patron saint La Vírgen de Chiquinquirá. The website pays particular attention to the sign-writers and commercial artists — the personajes de lujo (persons of great value) — who make a living by colouring the public domain. Miguel Ángel Cevallos’s crafty letters and the food-paintings by Jorge Montesdeoca are shown along with their detailed biographies. Popular de lujo captures a visual culture that is rapidly losing ground to digital design and also provides it with unpretentious footnotes.

Is your work in any way influenced by the fact that we are now all connected across the globe? ‘Absolutely. Without globalization and connectivity I probably would have never realized the importance of gráfica popular.’

Over the past decade the Popular de lujo crew have edited several publications and organised exhibitions and workshops in Colombia and abroad. Current fascinations include the anthropomorphic drawings that lure people into cafeterias: the singing tacos, dancing hamburgers and winking croissants. Visual resistance never looked this good.

IMAGE popular graphics in the streets of bogota

Can you name a project that shows What Design Can Do and that inspired you in a special way? ‘I just got back from Perú and there I learned about Felipe Huamán de Poma and his First New Chronicle and Good Government. It’s fascinating. Huamán was an Inca born in 1535, two years after Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca empire. Huamán worked for 70 years on a book for the Spanish king in which he documented abuses by the Spaniards against the natives. Huaman’s book – probably one of the first mestizo books in history – is an extraordinary specimen of graphic design, a beautifully crafted balance of text and illustrations. You can see it at’ If you were in charge, what issue(s) would you ask designers to solve? ‘Selfishness.’

what design can do! 3 interviews showcasing solutions




daniel hires

‘ALL DESIGN is social, ALL DESIGN MATTERS’ Paula scher

what design can do for africa

what design can do! for ALPHADI


what design can do for africa



Alphadi (pseudonym for Seidnaly Sidahmed) is one of Africa’s foremost fashion designers. He was born in Mali, raised in Niger and educated in France, as a result of which his designs combine Western influences with African traditions. His international career started with his first fashion show in Paris under the name of Alphadi in 1983. Alphadi is now is a brand for fashion and accessories acclaimed around the world. In 1998 Alphadi founded the Festival Internationale de la Mode Africaine (FIMA) in order to promote African fashion. That same year he was awarded the Prince Claus Prize in the Netherlands.

As a young child Seidnaly Sidahmed displayed an interest in fashion when he joined his sisters to dress dolls. ‘I already had the sensibility for fashion and design, and sewing clothes. But in my culture this was a female profession.’ Sidhamed therefore studied tourism and started to work at the Ministry of Tourism in Niger, until he discovered the power of fashion and decided to follow his passion. You promote fashion as a social and economic impulse for Africa. Why fashion and how is it beneficial for the continent? ‘Before we talk about fashion, I have to say that my work is above all about putting forward crafts and culture: our skills and our way of living. When I still worked at the Ministry of Tourism in Niger, I discovered what fashion really was. At tourism exhibitions in France, the United States and Japan I saw that in each country at least a dozen brands and designers represented the spirits and skills of their countries. That’s when I discovered that each of these brands contributed to the promotion of its country. And that’s when I decided to quit my job and begin studying fashion. ‘To my regret the organizational structure for fashion design in Africa is still not appropriate. Investors don’t want to invest in the brands of African designers, and politicians don’t invest in the education of creative professions. Whereas what fashion can bring to Africa is in my eyes

invaluable: it creates jobs, brings in devices, develops craftsmanship and adjacent professions, helps improve the image of a country, creates added value, and contributes to the development.’ What can European designers learn from African designers? And vice versa? ‘Africa is a continent compiled of 54 countries. Every country has its own traditional ways of doing things. Methods of conversion and weaving, and the use of materials like Raffia fibres are among the many things that African designers can bring to their European colleagues. It is for this purpose, this joint development with European designers, that I founded the FIMA, where African designers and their western colleagues can look at each other. ‘What African designers can learn from Europeans, on the other hand, is in the fields of their professional educational system, their organization, the search for financing, their management, their research, and their visions on the modern world in order to get African fashion products integrated into the international market.’ What is the International Festival of African Fashion about? What is there to see and to do? ‘The Festival International de la Mode Africaine (FIMA) is a platform I created to bring together the biggest names of Western and African fashion in Tiguidit in the Sahara dessert in order to show that African fashion does exist. Over the years the program has expanded. The event brings together designers from Africa and all parts of the world. Since 2005 we have a contest, meant to encourage new generations. And I also started

a contest for male and female top models, which helps to raise the image of mannequins of African origin. Around the event there are conferences and seminars organized together with the universities of Niger. ‘I think that through the FIMA, African fashion has made its mark in the international fashion world. In the next few years the FIMA won’t change its objective. African fashion needs international acknowledgement on all levels. ‘In the wake of the FIMA, I will build a school in Niamey for the education of students in fashion, art, marketing and management. We are currently working on this project; I already bought the ground. The school will be named ESMA: l’Ecole Supérieure de la Mode et des Arts.’ You planned a Fashion Night for peace in Mali, which sadly had to be cancelled. How can fashion bring peace? ‘I had to cancel the event in Mali, because of the political situation. But I think I will be able to organize it in Niamey, in order to express our solidarity with the innocent victims. Just like the first edition of the FIMA. Fashion can bring peace by the mingling of cultures and the reconciliation between people. It reflects the identity of each ethnic group, each region of a country or a continent. In the meantime, are you working on a new collection? When will it be shown? ‘My new collection is worked on hard at the moment. It is a collection using Malinese dye techniques, called Bazin, in honour of the peace in this country. There will be Touareg jewellery as well.’


what design can do for sanitation

what design can do! for DANIEL HIRES

As a marketing and communications expert, Daniel Hires is mainly involved in eco-social projects, sustainability, and communications 2.0. He recently joined WASH United, an international non-profit organization that harnesses the influence of football stars to generate enthusiasm for safe drinking WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for everybody, everywhere. Hires is part of the Berlin chapter of MakeSense, which supports local social entrepreneurs. He also organizes the Silent Climate Parade, Berlin’s contribution to the international day of climate action. On his blog Green Social Culture ( he collects inspiring imagery on green social issues.


what design can do for sanitation


‘I was very fortunate to be adopted at the beginning of my life. It meant I’ve always tried to be in touch with what really matters in life,’ says Daniel Hires by way of explanation for his active involvement in green social issues. ‘My thirdculture kid upbringing deeply ingrained in me the value of experiences above material things, and I’ve always wanted to be part of the solution rather than the problem.’ The fact that he is not alone in this feeds his optimism about the future. ‘I see inspiring people and projects all around me. Technology has democratized the flow of information and communication. University graduates looking for meaning in their jobs are becoming the rule, not the exception. Will these good intentions actually make things better? We’ll have to let future generations be the judge of that in the end. Working hard to be on the right side of history is all we can do.’ What is the goal of WASH United? ‘WASH United wants to end the sanitation crisis that needlessly kills more than 4000 children every day. Diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and hygiene is Africa’s biggest health problem. It kills more children under five than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. At any time, every second hospital bed in Africa is occupied by a patient suffering from preventable diarrhoea. The fact that sanitation and hygiene are almost universal taboo topics has led to silence around this massive crisis. WASH United puts this issue

in the public spotlight so we can start finding solutions. We run public awareness campaigns, teach kids essential skills in hygienic behaviour, and lobby politicians. All this is done by using the influence of football and its most famous stars.’ Why did you choose for the analogy with sport? ‘Advertising taught us that rational arguments rarely sell products, but emotional factors do. By shifting emphasis from reasons of rational health to playful excitement and becoming champions, we focus on emotionally reaching our audience in a positive and engaging manner. Football stars are universal heroes and role models, and kids get very excited about joining WASH United and being in the same “club” as their favourite stars like Didier Drogba or Asamoah Gyan. Furthermore, we can achieve great results by designing our training projects around sports and games, because the kids actually enjoy learning and the message sticks.’ Are you focussing on children alone? ‘No, the association with football stars does not just appeal to children. This is how our Kenyan country coordinator Kerubo Okioga, who has been working in the sector for more than ten years, once described it: “Before WASH United, I was spending a lot of time and effort to attract even the slightest media attention. Now, with Kenya’s biggest football star, MacDonald Marigá, on board, journalists are actually calling me!”’

How can people support WASH United? ‘Our work is primarily in Africa, but we are currently trying to bring the club idea to Europe. The best way to support us is to start talking with your friends, your family, and your network about Africa’s biggest health problem. And if you have ideas about how we can engage more people or achieve greater visibility, do let me know!’ You want designers to join the cause of WASH United? What are you hoping for? ‘In September we are launching our campaign in India with a two-month Great WASH Yatra, which is essentially a travelling carnival that will be entirely themed around sanitation and hygiene. We will explore how the toilet interaction can be turned into a highly desirable experience, and how we can stimulate behaviour that keeps the toilet clean for the next person. The challenge we are putting out is to use design thinking to develop a cheap hand-washing facility that is fun to use and to maintain. After all, if children washed their hands after using the toilet and before eating, it would reduce the number of fatalities by half.’  

what design can do for users

what design can do! for PAULA SCHER



what design can do for users



For four decades Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design. Her eclectic approach to typography became highly influential in the 1970s and 1980s. As a principal in the New York office of design consultancy Pentagram since 1991, she has developed identity and branding systems and graphic materials for clients like Bloomberg, Bausch + Lomb, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Perry Ellis, and Tiffany & Co. Through her work for many cultural institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art and The Public Theater, she has helped shape the face of her home town of New York City. Scher is president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.

In a talk at TED Paula Scher stated that solemnity is an obstacle to real creativity, and that routine often leads to solemnity. Her best work, she says, develops from assignments in fields she has no experience with. This ‘serious play’, as she calls it, resulted in her renowned identity for The Public Theater, her wayfinding for theatres and other cultural institutions, and also her fascinating map paintings. In these large paintings she renders information and data culled from headlines, maps and diagrams in fields of handdrawn typography. A New York gallery recently presented a new series of these paintings, which provide an exuberant portrait of contemporary information in all its complexity and subjectivity. Some 39 of Scher’s maps were collected in her book MAPS, published last fall. In the 20 years you’ve been working at Pentagram, have you witnessed a growing interest in social design and/or sustainability at the agency? ‘We think all design is “social”. We have always been dedicated to raising the expectation of what design can be and do in any given area. That includes virtually everything.’   To what extent are social design and sustainability issues of concern to yourself. ‘The project I am most proud of from this perspective was getting the NYC Parks department to redo their ugly depressing signage by volunteering to do it for free. It will make the biggest

difference to New York City residents, although it will also take about 10 years to fully implement the program. We simplified signs, made them cost effective, created a better pictorial system so they are understandable in communities with multiple languages, are maintainable, and decent looking. There is a modular form of assembly that is relatively easy to install. ‘I am also on the Public Design Commission in New York City to help the mayor, who is dedicated to reducing NYC’s carbon footprint. He has expanded city parks so there is one within 10 minutes walking distance from any given area. His department of transportation implemented bike lanes. They narrowed streets to discourage car usage. Broadway, at Times Square, is now a complete pedestrian plaza. ‘As a design commissioner I contribute my aesthetic views to all city projects. It’s been quite wonderful and has truly improved life in NYC. I confess that I am much more impressed with these sorts of initiatives than by lectures on postconsumer waste.’ Is there still any kind of work on your wish list? ‘I enjoy mostly working on projects where I am unqualified for the job. I am pleased with the public and charter schools in poor neighbourhoods where I have designed environmental graphics. They are wonderful places to go to school. I wish I had that experience as a child. My favourite recent project was a painted environment I created

for a public school. I would like to work on more of this and make it sculptural as well.’ Do you know how the students react to this work? ‘I don’t have facts and figures on this, but I have been told by the principals and faculties that the students love it, are inspired by it and are happy its there. I don’t know specific statistics in relationship to their academic achievement, but the schools have a good rating and the over-all performance is high in New York City.’ You have been teaching a lot. What is your main message to young people starting in the design profession today? ‘I would start with the notion that all design is social and all design should raise the expectation of what design can be. Our culture deserves the best messaging it can get. “Design for the Public Good” implies that there is another kind of design for the public bad, usually meaning design for corporations. We live in one world. It all matters.’

what design can do!

mainstage 24 presentations

report what they said

Breakout sessions prompting answers

what design can do



what design can do



‘MY WORK IS ABOUT THE HUMAN TOUCH’ HELLA JONGERIUS (NETHERLANDS) Striking a balance between the human touch in design and the need for mass production was the common thread uniting the interview by journalist Tracy Metz with Dutch designer Hella Jongerius. Jongerius made her name with her characteristic sense of craftsmanship and imperfection in commission of small, often family owned businesses. More recently however she has started working for larger corporations, most notably IKEA and KLM. This didn’t fundamentally change her work. Safety regulations obviously leave no room for imperfections. ‘But my work is not so much about imperfection. It’s about the human touch, about being real and alive.’ Metz finished with a question about the rift between Dutch industry and Dutch designers. For Jongerius it’s a matter of communication. ‘Industry follows consumer behaviour, and consumers are ready for better products. So industry needs to be pushed a little bit, and designers should communicate this better.’



will look like in five or ten years. Not only in full bloom but also as it decays. It looks and feels different everywhere, every time. For Oudolf, a dynamic garden connects us with nature and reminds us of where we come from.’

EBERHARD VAN DER LAAN (MAYOR OF AMSTERDAM) In his former job as minister responsible for neighbourhoods, housing and integration, Eberhard van der Laan, now mayor of Amsterdam, witnessed how deteriorated neighbourhoods flourished after artists and designers took up residence there. ‘Their art and presence gave these neighbourhoods a sense of dignity, pride and self respect,’ the mayor said in his opening speech. ‘Thus art and design determine not only the physical but also the social face of the city,’ concluded Van der Laan, who had already mentioned that a walk through Amsterdam is a walk through 700 years of architectural history. A flourishing creative sector is vital to a city, Van der Laan stated. That’s the reason he welcomed WDCD to Amsterdam. ‘You’ve come here to exchange ideas on applied design, not design as an objective in itself, but as a means of finding solutions for social issues, or at any rate to make a contribution. I invite you to help us and wish you an interesting conference.’

‘A GARDEN IS A PERFORMANCE IN TIME’ PIET OUDOLF (NETHERLANDS) Free, spontaneous and wild. That’s how landscape gardener Piet Oudolf describes his gardens. Now designing throughout Europe and North America with the biggest names in architecture, he and his wife Anja first ran a nursery for three decades. Over that period he acquired an intimate knowledge of how plants grow and behave. And that understanding of the properties of plants in temperate climate zones lies at the heart of his success in creating planting schemes for both private gardens and urban spaces alike. ‘Plants are the tools I use to express myself. A garden performs over time, like a stage play. I think about what it


‘EATING IS JUST LIKE KISSING...’ HONEY AND BUNNY (AUSTRIA) \ ‘In fact, humans could get all the nutrition they need from tubes,’ said Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer, ‘but we need this lust!’ The duo went on to explain how each mouthful we eat touches all of our senses – through its colour, smell, shape, temperature, consistency, and sound. The wish to design food is as old as civilization, they argued, yet we don’t usually think about food as territory for designers. From the most traditional bread shapes – loaves, croissants, bagels, etcetera; to whipped cream, cotton candy, and 80-kg Emmenthaler ‘wheels’; to the famous transportable Vienna chocolate cake; to the ever-popular red gummy bear; to industrial abstractions like rectangular fish fingers; food is designed – to be experiential, functional, or culturally meaningful. It’s time for designers to think more critically, they said, about the hundreds of unwritten food laws, and how we can influence them.

‘THERE ARE MORE MOBILE PHONES THAN TOILETS IN INDIA’ INA JURGA (GERMANY) Some 2.6 billion people in the world have no access to proper sanitation facilities. More than 4,000 children under the age of five die every day from preventable diseases caused by poor sanitation and dirty water. Ina Jurga of WASH United presented these and other shocking statistics to explain why her charity wants to break down the taboo surrounding defecation, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and India. It does that by opening up discussion about the subject of toilet behaviour and hygiene with techniques perfected in branding strategies. These include enlisting the support of African football stars like Didier Drogba (or cricketers and Bollywood stars in the case of India) as ambassadors who can reach and influence young people in particular. The message to kids: ‘If you don’t use the toilet, you won’t become a football star.’ WASH United hopes that, communicated in this way, the message of its awareness campaigns will provoke an attitudinal change that has not been achieved with traditional health warnings or even with the provision of toilets. Time to talk about that other four-letter word: ‘s-h-i-t’.

‘What design can do is look at areas like biology and invisible microorganisms to inspire us about designing and making things in the future,’ designer of eco-couture Suzanne Lee said. Her presentation made clear that she herself is busy working along that path. Out of the encounter with a biological scientist, Lee developed the idea of growing pure cellulose with the help of bacteria. This material can be used to make biodegradable garments, of which she showed some interesting experimental examples, including the ‘first veggie biker jacket’. These experiments are part of a bigger thought experiment about the future of producing not only fashion, but also products in general. ‘My vision for the future is that bacteria become the factory. Potentially, this factory does everything from producing the material to shaping the product.’ Obviously, the benefits for the environment are enormous, even more so when we can modify bacteria to add colours and other features to the products. ‘The potential answers to so many questions we’re dealing with now is what keeps me going on with this quest,’ concluded Lee.

what design can do



what design can do



‘I MEAN, WHAT’S A PROTEST OUTFIT?’ GEORGETTE KONING (NETHERLANDS) What can fashion do? According to Dutch fashion critic Georgette Koning, fashion can be both ‘shield and sword’; it can protect, and more importantly, it can – and should – provoke, even revolt. But is fashion doing what it’s capable of? Koning said no. Taking the punk movement as her reference point – calling it the most aggressive style of clothing since medieval armour – she surveyed fashion’s ‘passive and aggressive’ qualities, from pyjama-like hoodies, to stiletto heals, to street culture’s adoption of brands like Fred Perry and Adidas, to Comme des Garcons’ oversized coats, to Vivienne Westwood’s reappropriation of punk’s safety pin – in white gold! Today’s activists – the Occupiers – ‘don’t express their dissatisfaction through clothing,’ she said. And today’s designers aren’t responding to the crisis because their target audience, the rich, simply aren’t feeling it. ‘Fashion has taken the sting out of punk,’ Koning concluded. ‘Fashion has made violence bearable, and wearable.’


FEBRIK (LEBANON / UK) Joumana Al Jabri and Reem Charif, both architects and two of the three founders of design collective Febrik, showcased some of their most recent projects in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. In these camps public space is usually scarce, and the use of it is defined according to a strong hierarchic structure in which ‘men come first, then elders, then women, and lastly children.’ The many children in the refugee equation grow up in a context full of insecurity, without schools or playgrounds. Febrik observed the children finding their way under these difficult circumstances and found them to be resilient and natural inventors and designers who appropriate staircases and windowsills to transform them into zones for temporary play. Febrik provided the children with tools and mapped their improvised ways of negotiating space and creating socalled social playgrounds. ‘These social playgrounds,’ stated Al Jabri, ‘are the purest examples of radical democracies.’

ESTEBAN UCRÓS (COLOMBIA) ‘We have to be careful what we consider bad design.’ This was a central message of Esteban Ucrós, a graphic designer based in Bogotá and co-founder of the website Popular de lujo. Ucrós documents the graphic design of the city around him – the gráfica popular of hand-drawn commercial signs and murals made by lower class citizens. He treated the audience to a load of these remarkable images. Ucrós stressed that we should not judge it as art – a category in which it is doomed to fail – but to value it as self-expression, pure and simple. Exalting the people who make this work is then Ucrós’ mission, who described the incredible lives led by street artists. He ended with a quote from Charles Taylor: ‘Due recognition is not just a courtesy we owe people. It is a vital human need.’ The warm applause and the reactions on twitter were clear signs indeed that this work was being duly recognized.


‘WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A DESIGNER?’ ITEMS LIVE (VARIOUS COUNTRIES) To demonstrate what usually goes on during an ‘Items Live Talkshow’, editor in chief of design magazine Items Max Bruinsma and journalist Jonathan Maas invited three prominent designers to the stage for a series of ten-minute interviews that kicked off with the question: ‘What the hell does it mean to be a designer?’ Designer Jimmy Loizeau (Auger-Loizeau), architect and urban gamer Ekim Tan and artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde spoke of products that make our consumer lives easier by measuring our happiness, games that help sort complex urban planning systems the fun way, and technology that is so interwoven with our lives that it becomes clothing. As Loizeau put it: ‘Designers should do more than make things better. They need to analyze those things on a larger scale.’

‘THIS DOES NOT LOOK INDIAN’ RA JESH DAHIYA (INDIA) ‘What can designers do for designers?’ asked Rajesh Dahiya. Tired of being bound to clichés about what is ‘Indian’ in a country where ‘the cuisine changes every few kilometres’, he and his studio CoDesign decided to get out of the office, talk to designers, and document what is really happening today. Their search led to Dekho (‘To See’ in Hindi), a soon-to-be-published anthology of work and conversations with ten inspirational Indian designers. Dahiya also explained his research for the Gates foundation on toilet practices in low-income settlements. Overwhelmed with information, he and his colleagues realized that designers need a guide for fieldwork. So they made one: Get Out – an interactive workbook for design research. ‘Use it; get it dirty!’ he urged. CoDesign’s spontaneity, energy and curiosity also generated the UnBox Festival, a multidisciplinary, multisensorial, conference, exhibition and research platform that aims for ‘action at the intersections’.

‘ARCHITECTURE IS WHERE LIFE HAPPENS’ CAMERON SINCLAIR (UK) In a strong closing performance to day 1 Cameron Sinclair, founder and director of Architecture for Humanity, told the story of his organization, while extolling new maxims of how architects should really act to make a difference in the world. Making the point that health care, housing and education are not only the main necessities of life and thus the main focus of humanitarian aid, but also the areas where people are most willing to spend money, Sinclair suggested that architects move their focus to providing these services. With myriad examples in his portfolio, and a healthy serving of wit, Sinclair demonstrated that genuine goals and a necessary pragmatism were keys to working in social impact design. Still beauty figures heavily into the equation, and he reminded us of its practical side when he said: ‘Make something beautiful and the community will want to take care of it.’

what design can do



what design can do



‘We’ve come a long way since coconut buttons’ Catarina Midby (Sweden) In the nineties, when sustainability was known under the label of ecology, H&M initiated their first line that put awareness before fashion. A series of garments made of ecological cotton, with coconut buttons, in not-soinspired shades like off-white and rust. ‘It was a good fashion story, but no-one actually bought it’, admitted Catarina Midby, coordinator of trends for the megabrand. Midby elaborated on the progress the company has made since then: moving towards a leading position in the field, with a code of conduct, a chemicals restrictions list, and a substantial increase in the use of recycled and ecological materials in specific collections. She stated that a humble attitude is still appropriate. ‘As a producer you can only be green to a certain extent.’ But she signalled that fashion and awareness now go hand in hand. ‘We have moved from being tree-huggers to kings and queens of green fashion.’

‘I make things and sometimes I help make things happen’ Paula Scher (US) Paula Scher delivered a talk that looked at the power of type and graphic design to transform urban spaces. Working in her home town of New York City, she showed how negotiating a delicate balance of pro bono commissions for the right kind of projects could not only generate larger commissions for an office but also leave an indelible mark on the city. Building on the pro bono success of her park branding with the High Line and Madison Square Park, the New York City Parks Department asked her to redesign their logo. She suggested to redesign their signage instead – a visual mess that litters the entrance to every park in the city. By creating a modular system and replacing much of the language with icons, she helped make a more universally legible and aesthetic design, which will change the look of the city, showing clearly how graphic designers can be city builders too.


‘SHOW NON-DESIGNERS THAT THE WORLD CAN BE CHANGED’ K ATHERINE CLARKE (UK) ‘If the everyday is the lived experience of democracy,’ said Katherine Clarke, ‘then public space must bring together many cultural references.’ Clarke, and her architecture/ art practice called Muf, specializes in rethinking and transforming leftover, non-designed or poorly planned places into spaces that are open to appropriation and interpretation by the people who use them. Using the example of the Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, London, which occupies the site of a church destroyed in The Blitz, Clarke showed how public space opens up access and history for the benefit of the entire community. A period of intensive observation of and conversations with local people, mostly immigrants, informed a series of interventions, whose forms and materials were determined together with the same people. ‘But socially inclusive design,’ she noted, ‘is difficult to achieve. Designers must look at a situation and understand what is missing. They need to ask what they can bring to that situation to make public space a more inclusive platform for the everyday, to create new kinds of meaning in new kinds of spaces.’

‘They call themselves the Eichbaumer’


Alex Timm (Germany)

As both a designer and a philosopher, Kees Dorst asked himself what is the value designers can bring and how they work. In talking to a lot of designers around the globe, Dorst discovered that there is a general pattern in the way designers approach problems. One of his main findings was that top designers all are strong analysts. ‘They are creative idiots that can think,’ as he put it. Out of his research, Dorst developed a new way to approach problems by creating new frames. ‘Once you’ve changed the frame, the solutions present themselves,’ he said, based on the experience of over 70 projects. Dorst showed three examples, one of which was the design of bombproof dustbins for the Australian railways. ‘After analyzing the question, we found out that the real problem here was the bomb scares that proved to be false alarms, because they cause train delays of three hours. We then designed a bin that can be easily scanned using x-ray equipment, reducing delays to just ten minutes.’

Honouring his friend and co-worker Matthias Rick, Axel Timm of Raumlabor told of how a depressing, crimeridden train station was turned into a cultural meeting place. Social architects Raumlabor aim to create projects that change the user’s outlook. Take the Eichbaumoper project, for instance, an important hub that connects two cities and the surrounding residential areas. Here Raumlabor transformed a metro station into a centre for cultural activity that includes a container-built opera house and boxing ring. ‘Local kids, who call themselves Eichbaumer, got involved in the project and helped write and perform their own opera,’ explained Timm. It is this testing and experimenting over short periods of time that makes our form of collaboration (for a company they are not) so fruitful. Temporary structures and bubble kitchens get onlookers interested and neighbours talking to one another. Successful ventures can then be implemented on a more permanent basis elsewhere.

‘Language is an endangered species.’ Younghee Jung (South Korea) ‘Think of one positive word,’ said Younghee Jung. ‘And now I want everyone to scream it out!’ As the audience shifted in their seats, she explained: ‘I work with people; I have to get to know them.’ Jung calls herself a ‘Connector’, whose mission is not only to bridge people and cultures, but also to ease technological transitions – to deal with tensions between old and new behaviours. She described her research for Nokia in India, a country with 122 spoken languages, many of which are hardly expressed in writing, much less on keypads. In Bangalore, she interviewed people, many of whom could not read or write, to learn how she could improve their phone interactions. Her work may not only help to preserve disappearing languages, but also to maintain dignity in a world where not everyone types in English. ‘Nobody wants to use a phone for illiterate people.’

what design can do



what design can do


‘We design things that don’t exist’






Images of lonely trees in picturesque American mountain landscapes and intricate examples of the rich Eastern graphic culture were shown alongside photo’s of packaging, loud logotypes and street signage, during Harmen Liemburg’s presentation. ‘I like to browse the world and see what’s there,’ explained Liemburg, ‘then I tell stories departing from the symbols and icons that I find.’ The way Liemburg loves to play with visual clichés was clearly demonstrated through is red, white and blue tongue-in-cheek posters that referenced American popular sports culture. The artist, who dubbed himself a soloist by nature, has always made screen prints because this manual technique supersedes the computer in the level of perfection and detail that can be created. ‘Once you step into the world of ink, paper, and paint and get to know the parameters, the creative possibilities are endless.’

Andrew Shoben doesn’t like bronze statues nor Latin for that matter. For him public art should put humans at the centre – involving them and inciting reactions. Conversely he believes traditional public art tends to alienate more than it includes. In his talk he took us through an array of projects from his Greyworld studio – a mixture of the playful and the fantastical. Shoben tends to revel in the unexpected mistakes his projects produce, and he shared a few with the audience: an unfortunate sentence one of his pieces produced in front of a German delegation; a vulgar arm gesture his animatronic statue performed in public. In the end the moderator asked the basic question: ‘Why do you do this?’ His answer: ‘Because play is a uniquely creative act.’

Aditya Dev Sood (India)

‘I want to use design to show the soul of Brazil’

‘What do you see?’ he asked the audience. The image on the screen, a movie poster in India, was a haphazard composite of sophisticated drawing, ancient printing, and digital production methods. This random layering of technologies is typical of emerging economies, he said, ‘where informationalization is happening under conditions of partial industrialization.’ His company, CKS (Center for Knowledge Societies) gets to the root of the design problem. They use ethnographic research as a starting point, gradually working toward concepts, drawings, and design prototypes. ‘That’s innovation,’ he said. ‘Designing things that don’t exist.’ CKS’s immunization project with the Gates Foundation is one example. It recognizes and addresses the problem that most biomedical equipment was not made to be used in the field. CKS saw the opportunity to create a new product, and to make it happen. ‘We use a new set of skills and cross over into something larger.’

‘They called me the Devil in many ways’ Stephan Doitschinoff (Brazil) Stephan Doitschinoff uses painting and sculpture to explore the folk art, religious narratives and oral traditions that characterize the rural landscape of Brazil. In his anecdotal and often humorous talk he walked us through the motives – an extremely religious upbringing and the money-obsessed atmosphere of post-dictatorship Brazil – behind his decision to move to a small remote village. It was there that he confronted his own atheism with a culture steeped in religious and mystical beliefs. Fostering relationships with the people around him, both positive and negative, then was the key to his process, as he began making murals that mixed his own feelings with the religious and cultural baggage surrounding him. A curious revelation occurred one day when he saw a group of women praying to a painting that he made. ‘At that point the work was no longer mine.’

‘They stopped fighting!’ Alphadi (Niger) ‘My parents cried every day,’ Alphadi recalled. ‘They told me “fashion is for women!”’ After working in tourism for five years, he returned to his passion to become Africa’s most influential fashion designer. In an animated dialogue with Els van der Plas, director of Premsela, Alphadi explained his mission to promote and transform African design in the face of political unrest and the influence of Islam. During his first fashion show in the desert, ‘they tried to kill me at least ten times,’ he said. ‘They thought fashion was only about showing the woman’s body.’ But as Van der Plas pointed out, the government has been supportive of his Festival International de Mode Africaine (FIMA), which has proven that fashion can promote peace: ‘When we started the show, they stopped fighting!’ Alphadi spoke emphatically about the embroidered textiles in his new collection, and the African commitment to quality and collaboration: ‘Fashion can do it! Africa can do it!’

Marcelo Rosenbaum (Brazil) The purpose of Marcelo Rosenbaum (Sao Paulo, 1968) is to show the Brazilian soul through design. His project ‘AGT – A Gente Transforma’ aimed at emancipating favela dwellers, connecting them with businesses, and cultural and scientific institutions. Working in one of the most dangerous favelas of Sao Paulo, Marcelo reused ‘rich garbage’ to redecorate the place. Within two years large parts of the favela were repainted, a soccer field became the centre of the community, including a public

library, and the people were producing items of clothing and bags. All under the high patronage of the local drug lord, who now works in the library. Marcelo did a similar project in Piauí - a forgotten place in the north of Brazil – where he helped people to better their lives by connecting their local crafts and skills to a national market. Meanwhile he is presenting a nationwide TV show in which he helps people transform their homes. ‘Brazilian TV is a great tool for education,’ he said. Like his other projects, the show is spreading the democratization of design as a profession.


what design can do

what design can do!





breakout session hosted by design academy eindhoven

How can traffic lights, skylines, second floors, an imaginative police force and a touch of fantasy help make the city of Eindhoven a better place! In this breakout session students from the ‘Man and Communication’ department at Design Academy Eindhoven presented projects that tackle social problems in the city of Eindhoven. The students invited the participants to join in an interactive workshop and share their reactions and viewpoints with them. Design students are the future of design. At the department of ‘Man and Communication’ they are encouraged to look beyond the design bubble and engage with real world issues. A policy that The Stone Twins have dubbed: ‘Less monologue – more dialogue’. WDCD provided the students with an ideal platform to meet and talk with design practitioners, to gauge the relevance and resonance of their thinking. Each year the Design Academy delivers around 120 Bachelor and Master graduates. Alumni include Maarten Baas, Tord Boontje, Jurgen Bey, Piet Hein Eek, Hella Jongerius, and Marcel Wanders.


what design can do

Declan Stone gave a brief introduction on the Department of Man and Communication and explained how the course absolutely abhors navel-gazing and introspection. Some tag it social relevance, he distills it to one phrase: less monologue – more dialogue. But, today was about the students... The first group on-stage were Alix Gallet & Catalina Diaz Garcia, who proposed to make the waiting-time at traffic-lights a little less tedious. The passive audience soon woke up to an entertaining mix of recorded messages, music and bizarre sound effects. The next speakers highlighted the lack of interaction between different ethnic groups and social classes, and employed food as their medium of expression. Desiree van der Gracht showed how vending machines customized with built-in video cameras could encourage random people to talk to each other. Tess Janse put forward the notion of ‘Food Ambassadors’ at food markets: individuals who would recommend new dishes and thus create rapport with customers. Lekker. Rooftop routes Lenča Praxova presented a concept to make the skyline of Eindhoven more accessible to the public. She conceived a series of themed rooftop routes, connected by improbable spiraling bridges. Marit van der Gevel examined existing locations in Eindhoven; and celebrated both individual expression and incidental interventions. In her


unique way, Michelle Bours also embraced difference by proposing to literally paint Eindhoven’s different zones across buildings, pavements and anything else in-between. The result was an amazing mega art installation that dissolves space and creates a new reality. The delightful duo of Roel Nabuurs & Maartje Slijpen explained how they could revitalize city centers by opening up the second level of each building to residents. Last up was Zeno Koenigs who reasoned that underage drinking prevention policies are not working. He proposed the formation of a comedic police-force who would shame and embarrass offenders. It was a ludicrous, yet challenging, way to end the series of razor-sharp presentations. Each project was followed by a short question and answer session from the audience. This was a great opportunity for the students to engage with other design professionals. Some were very critical, but overall it was a constructive and open discussion that will sow the seeds of further creativity. This is just the start of their journey...

In order to find out What Green Can Do for design, designers from various disciplines in this breakout explained how a sustainable approach contributed to the realization of their product. In 10-minute pitches on the Green Mic stage, different designers discussed how a sustainable approach affected their concepts and led them to innovation. They answered questions including: How can we support social sustainability through technology? Is it possible to make design out of trash? Is there an alternative to the fridge? Can you make ice without using a freezer? How can we use rest materials for communication? Afterwards the presented projects were exhibited in a small exposition. This breakout, presented by designer Jana Flohr, was organized by Groene Offerte (Green Bid), an online platform for the exchange of best practices and information on sustainable design. Groene Offerte is powered by the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO).


what design can do


what design can do

what MATERIAL design MATTERS can do! for MATERIAL REDUCTION breakout session hosted by droog Our economic system is in turmoil. Our resources are becoming scarce. Even so, we cling to the same economic models, producing more products, producing more waste. one of the designers presents solution for a sustainable design.

THE GREEN MIC The breakout session devoted to what green can do for design taught us that sustainable design often takes us right back to the origins and to ancient techniques. Participants included Anne Jacobs, who travels around with a mobile ice-cream maker, reviving a technique that was known in the days of Marco Polo. Jihyun Ryou produces pieces of furniture in which to store fruit and vegetables, thus making the fridge redundant. For this he owes a debt of gratitude to his mother, who taught him simple tricks like storing an apple with a potato to prevent the latter from sprouting. Over the centuries we somehow lost these techniques, but the search for sustainable solutions takes us right back to them. Sustainable design also shows us the value of connecting people and products and generating or adding value in that way. The Ecofont developed by Alexander Kraaij helps users to save both ink

and money with a printable solution that is perfectly readable. And the Local Heroes smartphone app developed by Chantal Bekker and Gabriela Bustamante allows you to get in contact easily with all the social initiatives in your neighbourhood. Our standard of living and level of welfare has created an overload of materials. But what is waste for one people can be an inspiration to someone else. Peter Kortleve of Madfest prints flyers and the like on waste material, turning a problem into a solution for communication. And Diederik Schneemann tells the story behind slippers that wash up on the coast of Africa with his collection of objects called A Flip Flop Story. Green design, therefore, does not throw up obstacles that curb the imagination. It does quite the opposite, offering a host of opportunities for smart designers to explore and exploit.

What if, in an alternative economic model, income tax is replaced by a tax on raw materials? What would this mean for the design industry? Will designers offer alternative ways of creating materials? Will they specialize in upcycling, concentrate on services, go digital, or do something else? In this Material Matters session participants joined Droog to imagine alternative business models demanded by material scarcity and economic upheaval. The session follows up on Droog’s presentation during the International Furniture Fair in Milan, which took place at the Domus Open Design Archipelago in April 2012. In Milan, Droog presented an imaginary future fair, and now it is aiming to host a real fair.

The participants broke into teams, each headed by a Chair, to develop ideas for new businesses driven by material scarcity. Team #1: Time Share Kitchen Cooking at home for yourself takes a lot of time and energy. In current restaurants, it is strange to bring anything from home. Time Share Kitchen is a restaurant in which people bring their own ingredients, their own cutlery and even their own furniture, while the restaurant provides the chef, the kitchen facilities and the space. Clothing For Your Life Inspired by clothing made of a single piece of wrapped cloth in Africa, Clothing For Your Life is a company that produces clothes that grow as you grow (or shrink) throughout your life. The dress you wear in your youth is the same dress you wear when you are pregnant. Team #2: C.AN (Consumer Anonymous) Material consumption is mostly about consciousness. C.AN drives a new attitude in material awareness, by creating new incentives that reward material-reducing behaviour. For example, an award for not buying new clothes in the last month. Team #3: The Real Price App The Real Price App informs buyers of the real cost of producing an object (the real cost of a burger


what design can do

what design can do


what design can do! FOOD

breakout session hosted by premsela

enjoying food from a different perspective

After the ‘Eat Design’ performance, participants view tableware, dining furniture, food and eating in an entirely new way. During an ironic meal in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, the Austrian design duo Honey & Bunny deconstructed the cultural background and social function of cutlery, tables, napkins and food. All the devices chosen related to Dutch design culture. discussing ideas for material reduction

is much more than $2), and also gives feedback about whether or not you need something, and how you use it. It might, for example, tell you that you already have seven pairs of jeans and don’t need another pair, or that you only sat in this chair three times last year. Team #4: Swipe Swipe specializes in turning used objects into new ones again, through meticulous cleaning and refurbishing. Swiped objects literally become as good as new. Surplus Surplus is an online social platform with a built-in bartering system that uses credit. Friends can negotiate the cost of an exchange, and use their network to possibly upgrade or customize an unwanted good for someone else.

This breakout performance demonstrated to participants in a humorous manner how food and eating reinforce feudal hierarchies, keep the patriarchy in place and encourage xenophobia. Honey & Bunny, dressed as senior-citizen waiters, showed guests where to sit and which rules applied at this one-of-a-kind dinner. The seating of the guests, the table setting, the crockery and the cutlery, and the food: nothing was conventional, and each table guest had to adapt to new and unexpected circumstances. Honey & Bunny are the artist names of the Austrian designers Sonja Stummerer and Martin Hablesreiter. They are the authors of the books Food Design (2005) and Food Design XL (2010).

EAT DESIGN A six-metre long wooden structure dominated breakout room 2 where Premsela hosted What Design Can Do for Food with Austrian designers Honey & Bunny. Visitors seemed a little shocked to hear active participation was required, especially when placed in various positions and angles - lying down, standing, sitting opposite one another or even above one another. The structure itself promoted interaction between participants, and if that hadn’t got them talking, a first course of fried lice and grasshoppers certainly did. ‘This is the future of food,’ explained designer Martin Hablesreiter. The meals were served up on plates made of porcelain, biscuits, flatbreads and even kid’s toys. Utensils such as surgical equipment, tools and oversized cutlery only seemed to induce hilarity among the already intrigued dinner guests. Luckily, a traditional second course of stamppot, the Dutch national dish, and a glass (or ashtray) of wine managed to calm everyone’s nerves. Taste is in the brain So what message is this food experience trying to convey? ‘This “eating sculpture” proves that

taste is all in the brain,’ says creative Sonja Stummerer. ‘It rethinks the way we consume food.’ And indeed, ever since we were able to walk upright, have we not consumed our meals in the same manner, from a plate with knife and fork? Aren’t there better and certainly more fun ways of consuming our daily meals? These strange ways of eating allow consumers to really contemplate what and how they usually eat. ‘We’re happy everybody’s having fun,’ concluded Hablesreiter. ‘We were a little afraid someone would say, “I don’t eat bugs!”’

what design can do

what design can do! FOR HYGIENE


what design can do!



breakout session hosted by wash united

Design a sexy hand washing facility for India. That is the question WASH United challenges designers with, before putting their designs to the test during a Great WASH Yatra tour through India this summer. In this breakout Ina Jurga of WASH United explained the details of the WASH United Hand Washing Design Challenge, and answered questions from participants. She outlined the goals and scope of the project, the timeframe and limitations that apply, the resources that will be available, and the judging process. Finally, the breakout turned into a creative process to generate some first discussions and ideas around the challenge. Each participant left the room with a good understanding of the challenge and some initial ideas to get started on rethinking the toilet and hand washing experience. Ina Jurga is a marketing and communications expert who recently joined WASH United to support their innovation processes and to build private sector partnerships.


what design can do

breakout session hosted by premsela

Hand-washing with soap is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent not only diarrhoea - the biggest killer of under the age of five - but also a range of respiratory diseases. But health messages alone will not motivate a change in behaviour. The Soap It Up! Design Challenge, supported by WASH United, IDEO, Quicksand, HatteryLabs and Südfeuer is to design a hand-washing station for a rural Indian household that is attractive, acceptable and marketable. The selected Top 5 hand-washing station designs will be constructed as prototypes. They will also be displayed and tested in the Hand-Washing-Lab at the GREAT WASH Yatra in India. The visitors to Yatra will vote for their favourite design, which will earn the People’s Choice award. The aim of the challenge is solicit new innovative ideas and concepts, but moreover to start interaction with the visitors to talk and discuss on their perceptions, acceptance, and product usability and maybe even some households start to copy some of the ideas. Soap It Up! Design Challenge will launch on 17 May, and the submission deadline in 30 June. See more on The breakout session threw up some really great new ideas. Considering that the average Indian household lives on less than 1 USD a day, people have the arduous task of fetching water from an outside well or tap every single day. Therefore let’s make it fun, increase the interaction,

Where is the fashion industry going and why should several players in this field be better connected? These were the main questions to be answered in this breakout session with Stefan Siegel, co-founder of NOT JUST A LABEL.


introduce a playful element, and make it more rewarding for everybody involved. Our objective is to end up with a design that stimulates the interaction among the group or community, and a product that boosts pride in hygiene and social participation. Design for happiness means not focusing on the final product but thinking more about how that product can simply make people happier by altering their daily routines and activities. One of those activities, a life-saving one at that, is washing your hands with soap. Thanks to: Rob, Tracy, Christine, Barbara, Beatrys, Beatrix, Klara, Clement, Stuart, Careen and Amy

NOT JUST A LABEL is an industry-recognized platform to showcase the avant-garde fashion designers of today who are ready to present their collections and to nurture embryonic ideas for the upcoming talents of tomorrow. The platform was founded in the autumn of 2007 by four individuals with backgrounds in fashion, visual arts and informatics. NOT JUST A LABEL focuses on young labels and students of the main fashion design schools in London, Antwerp, Berlin, Milan and Vienna. NJAL currently has an ever-growing database of over 6000 designers from 88 countries. This session with NOT JUST A LABEL co-founder Stefan Siegel was moderated by Eve-Marie Kuijstermans, Fashion Culture Project Manager at Premsela, the Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion.

what design can do


revolutionizing scenarios for fashion


Besides offering young fashion designers a platform to showcase their work to the world, Stefan Siegel offers designers a priceless means of connecting. To journalists, to buyers, to stylists, to producers, to each other, but most importantly: directly to the customer. A few years ago Stefan Siegel and his brother quit their jobs in the London banking world to do something philanthropic. Four years on, Not Just A Label represents 9000 designers in 90 countries. It also found a way to monetize the website, without advertising or letting designers pay a membership fee. A webshop ensures the site pays for itself. Siegel points out that the democratic character of the online world calls for curators to ensure a standard of quality and creativity. He first engaged some celebrity acquaintances to help him make a selection of the best designs on the website to sell in the online shop. Since then, people like Lara Stone, Rihanna and Lady Gaga have approached him to help out. He now connects celebrity stylists to NJAL designers. Siegel found himself tapping into an international market. Now NJAL’s designers from Indonesia, Brazil and Lebanon are approached by Western magazines to be featured on their pages. Panel member Rinke Tjepkema, online editor at Vogue NL, points out the importance of the online to the magazine industry: ‘We are only allowed to feature brands that can be bought in the Netherlands. As our country is so small, the offering is limited. Webshops open up a breadth of brands we can use. Even if it has to come from Japan, if our readers can buy it, we can feature it.’ Other panellist Mariette Hoitink, director and founder of fashion recruitment agency HTNK, designers Robbert Wefers Bettink (Studio Sober) and Anne de Grijff, boutique owner Margreeth Olsthoorn and Head teacher of Fashion at AMFI Leslie Holden point out the influence of NJAL for different elements of fashion and how it opens up a gamut of opportunities to young designers. Stefan Siegel is clear about his main goal: to connect the designer directly to the customer. And whilst doing so, rule out the necessity of agents, trade shows, showrooms and fashion shows. To revolutionize the fashion system, one click at a time.


what design can do

what DESIGNING design OUT CRIME can do! AGAINST CRIME breakout session hosted by tu eindhoven & YD/

Safety in the public domain is a crucial challenge in society. Crime-related issues, ranging from bicycle theft and loitering teens to the more serious threats of terrorism, affect our personal and public wellbeing. In this breakout participants were guided through a live experience in the city centre, followed by an in-depth workshop about the Designing Out Crime (DOC) approach. This approach is researched and practiced at the DOC centre in Sydney, a joint initiative by the NSW Department of Attorney General and Justice and the University of Technology, Sydney. In this breakout the centre’s founder and director Kees Dorst represented Eindhoven University of Technology, where he has been appointed professor in Entrepreneurial Design of Intelligent Systems. Within the DOC research area, Dorst and his team explore how holistic design interventions can reduce opportunistic crime and make places, buildings and products work better and be less prone to crime. In this breakout Kees Dorst teamed up with Peik Suyling of the Amsterdambased Young Designers Foundation.

How can we develop new approaches to safety in public space? The starting point for this breakout session was the notion that by exploring in real time you can come up with new and unexpected questions and problems. Participants were sent out into the neighbourhood to explore peoples’ sense of safety. All formulated a personal question written on a white flag. Shall I look after your belongings? Do you know where you are? Do you feel enough tranquillity here? Do you like it here? Feel welcome in my comfort zone. Someone in the street reacted: ‘Why are you asking this?’ Suspicion surfaced immediately. The answer to the question ‘Do you like it here?’ left no doubt: ‘Yes, because there are no foreigners here.’ And two older ladies living at the Leidseplein: ‘It’s a mess here, everything is wrong but we feel very safe.’ A street trader felt safe because he had a permit. More reactions: Trust turns out to be a key notion for safety. But how do you build a network of trust? A shopkeeper felt safe but he was made aware of the possibility of crime; his boss told him to feel unsafe. Ratio struggled with emotion and intuition. A sense of less safety grows: older people are more scared, because experiences in their lives may have influenced their sense of safety. Stepping into one’s comfort zone results in people coming too close or moving too far away.


what design can do

Using electronic devices in the street kills your awareness of the environment and gives you a way to hide. The presence of mothers with kids makes a space feel safe; people ‘read’ spaces for such good signs. One must have some personal space and an overview of the situation. People feel more safe when they are active. You need a connection to the public space to take responsibility. Finally, the word ‘public’ space suggests ‘it’s not mine, it belongs to everyone’. Wouldn’t it be better to rule out this contradiction, and speak of ‘shared space’ or ‘common space’?


what design can do


SALON/ is an initiative that creates a crossover experience to inspire and instigate discussion and dialogue between art, design and fashion. This breakout session illustrated how the SALON/ philosophy helps to strengthen exchange between disciplines and cultures. SALON/ initiates both an offline and an online platform to endorse artists and designers and to generate reflection. The concept focuses on collaboration and the creation of lasting partnerships between designers and artists on the one hand and craftsmen or alternative production channels on the other. Based in Amsterdam, SALON/ is currently working on an exchange project with Turkish designers, artists, craftsmen and industry that is expected to be of benefit to designers and the new creative cultural economy. This summer the work in progress will be presented during SALON/ Istanbul in Amsterdam. The final results of this exchange will be presented this autumn during the 1st Design Biennial in Istanbul. The SALON/ concept, and in particular the SALON/Istanbul project, will be presented by Manon Schaap and Gijs Stork of SALON/ together with designers Borre Akkersdijk and Sjoerd Vroonland. how do you feel safe overhere

DESIGNERS MEET CRAFTSMEN In the breakout session for What Design Can Do! Borre Akkersdijk, Sjoerd Vroonland and Gijs Stork talked at length about the ideas behind SALON/ and SALON/Istanbul. SALON/ focuses on collaboration and the mutual strengthening of cultures and the creative process, with the ultimate goal of bringing people, crafts, artists, designers, objects and the general audience together in a salon-style setting, in the traditional manner of the 19th century. Focus again, give attention and start communication. The objective of SALON/Istanbul is to enter into a partnership with a designer and artist and to search for a special craft, technique, creative industry or production channel with which the participants can develop their ideas and concepts. Borre Akkersdijk and Sjoerd Vroonland explained the idea of creating a concept or product not just for ‘the occasion’. Rather, the expectation is to really explore new possibilities in terms of an enrichment of signature, skills and future possibilities of design practice or production capability.

SALON/ does this in cooperation with Turkish designers, artists and craftsmen and industry, and it should also be of benefit to the practice of the Dutch designers and the new creative cultural economy.

borre akkersdijk, gijs stork, sjoerd vroonland


what design can do

what design can do!


‘We were walking backwards to create a problem, very scary. We used our phones with reversed camera option to see what was happening behind us. It felt very selfish, looking at ourselves in the camera, no eye contact, focusing on where to place our feet, irritating other people. To embody the question of moving together, connecting by walking in the same way, an experiment in which we needed each other. Collaboration is a process and is important if you want to identify problems.’

breakout session hosted by no academy and doen foundation

While almost ever yone is connected to one another through the Internet and social media, real contact seems to be declining. Virtual time is replacing public time. This breakout session attempted to break through this development and find an answer to the question ‘What design can do for public contact’. Participants were invited to discuss this question with Axel Timm of the German architectural collective Raumlabor, Lilet Breddels, director of the Archis Foundation, a cultural think tank devoted to the process of real-time spatial and cultural reflexivity, and Arjen Oosterman, editor-in-chief of the design quarterly Volume. Ole Bouman, director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi), acted as moderator.

Real change for the better, they asserted, requires that we remove our dusty, biased and narrowfocused designer spectacles so that we can reach beyond the common, out-of-the-box way of thinking and realize that man is best at creating problems. Participants in this ‘walkshop’ investigated the opportunities that arise from radically choosing to create problems, without fear of any backfire from solution-focused boomerang thinking.

No Academy: Doen Foundation:

FOR PUBLIC CONTACT breakout session hosted by nai

Creating problems might be the best way to arrive at a drastically better world. This ‘Power of Problems’ breakout session was hosted by Yu-Lan van Alphen, Sjim Hendrix, Nienke Jansen, Sarah Kos, Hugo Schuitemaker, Domenique Himmelsbach de Vries and Tabo Goudswaard. They introduced participants to the power of problems in this beyond-the-box ‘walkshop’.

The No Academy is a laboratory for social design where starting artists and designers work on a practical job involving social and urban issues for twelve months. They do this under the supervision of an expert.


what design can do

‘We came across two homeless people. We tried to communicate with them, but that was very difficult, so we created non-verbal communication. We gave them money and food. We gave them money because we wanted information from them. They were from Romania. We gave them the address of the Salvation Army and a map, but they couldn’t read at all and didn’t understand. We wanted to help and make ourselves feel better, but by helping we created a problem ourselves.’

16 problems addressed during the breakout, from top to bottom and left to right: No problem, People don't think about the other, Running out of food, Fear, Drinkwater, Ignorance, Stay away!, Push aside, Lack of love, Size, In your head, People close off, Lack of chances, Infinity, Yeah whatever, Ignorance.


what design can do


what design can do

what HOW THEY design DO IT can do! FOR BUSINESS

journalist francisco van jole moderates a radio-controlled mini conference

CONNECT THE (DIS) CONNECTED This breakout session on contact ironically begins in mutual isolation. Upon arrival at the meeting point in the centre of Leidseplein, each guest is handed a pair of red ‘silent disco’ headphones (capable of receiving a radio signal) blocking out the voices of our friends and hosts. Our MC Lilet Bredels of Archis/Volume instructs us over the airwaves to head into the new Apple store across the street and ‘act like customers’. As we peruse the gleaming titanium products, it becomes apparent that we are all participating in a radio-controlled distributed mini conference, connected by an FM signal, but disconnected from the speakers, whose location is unclear. Lost in the iCloud perhaps? The disembodied voices discuss the various merits and pitfalls of social media, with anecdotes

ranging from the crucial role it played in supporting protesters of the Arab Spring, the effect of Facebook on school results and of Twitter in citizen journalism, to the parents whose addiction to online games led them to be fatally distracted from feeding their baby. Standing in this ‘chapel of technological capitalism’ the simple act of listening and thinking seems somehow clandestine. The impulse to drool over the latest gadget has been displaced by ideas. Shop assistants hover around suspiciously, and regular shoppers film us with their phones, no doubt expecting some kind of prerehearsed flash mob. With the concluding remarks from our host, we are instructed to return to the square for some ‘real’ contact. Our headsets are returned, and traded for a square of fabric with Velcro tabs. Together, we physically ’connect’ these sheets together, forming a large checkered rug, which through negotiation has become a platform for the most classic form of social contact: the picnic. After a discussion of the disruptive effects of social networks, we each self-consciously resist the urge to check our feeds, and instead pour a glass of wine and peel an orange and speak to each other. It isn’t so hard after all!

Report by Rory Hyde

breakout session hosted by HOSTED BY PROGRAM B* (FOR BUSINESS) What is the business model behind the success of design projects? How did WDCD speakers succeed in realizing their vision? Who are the key partners they connected with to make it work? During this breakout by Program B* (for Business), Mariana Idiarte and Marieke Rietbergen interviewed several key speakers at WDCD with the intention of bringing to the surface the creativity that lies in the business side of projects. Through the conversations they took a deeper look at organizational issues behind projects and learned how the designers set up successful business models for their products. Mariana Idiarte is an independent business consultant specialized in business and client relationship management in the (international) creative industry, with a focus on architecture and design. Marieke Rietbergen is founder of Creative Cloggy, a consultancy for creative businesses and for creativity in business.

Successful organizations Program B* presented speakers who were successful in pursuing their initiatives for over a decade rather than abandoning them as shortlived initiatives. The speakers understood success in many different ways. Febrik wondered if it was successful at all, since they don’t know if their work has had a positive impact or is considered beneficial by people in refugee camps. Raumlabor considered it would be successful if it enjoyed more freedom to work on projects they way it wants and likes to. Importance of commitment within communities All the speakers define success differently. However, they all agree about the importance of long-term commitment towards the communities they work in to successfully realize their projects. Popular de Lujo spent great periods of time researching, getting to know the graphic artists, their backgrounds and their lives, and not just their work. Febrik commits to a longterm relationship in the communities they work in. Raumlabor obtains support from the social environment of their intervention by socializing, organizing parties, and spending time in the community. Social networks versus structured organization All the speakers started out as collaborative teams, supported by a network of experts, and they fulfil different roles in the organization ac-


what design can do

cording to their personal skills, availability and interest, without any predetermined allocation of tasks or positions. Popular de Lujo and Febrik co-exist next to the employment activities of their partners, since they don’t earn salaries from their non-profit activities. Raumlabor, by contrast, is a for-profit firm, dedicated to both social and for-profit projects. Clear value proposition All three organizations (Febrik, Raumlabor and Popular de Lujo) present clear value propositions: Popular de Lujo: elevating the status of popular graphic. Febrik: negotiating the right to space Raumlabor: proposing, designing and building interventions. Guests: Joumana Al Jabri (Febrik), Axel Timm (Raumlabor), Esteban Ucrós (Popular de lujo), Cameron Sinclair (architecture for humanity, came on the stage at the end of the discussion)


what design can do! FOR safety

BREAKOUT SESSION BY YD/ night dwellers lounging in the couple-egg

For those who didn’t want to go to bed, the Young Designers Foundation organized a nightly breakout session in the heart of Amsterdam’s nightlife district. From 11 pm on Thursday evening till 5 am in the morning, seven designers and artists joined the public to discuss and celebrate the feeling of safety on and around the Rembrandtplein, a wellknown square lined by pubs. The city of Amsterdam is concerned about the growing indifference of people towards the public domain and is calling for creative impulses to create a new understanding of courtesy. In this breakout session the role of design in creating courtesy by improving the feeling of safety was discussed. Kees Dorst, director of the Designing Out Crime centre, joined the discussion during the first hour. Young Designers Foundation (YD/) seeks answers to current questions through projects that go beyond standard problem-solving methods and instigate processes that lead to new and substantial solutions.

axel timm shares his views during the breakout

what design can do

A SAfE NIGHT IN TOWN Tree huts on the ground, a spatial couple-egg to sit in, a Montmartre painter, jam sessions of tomato jam making, a safety map of the square, a drawing of one’s own circle of safety, adding content in dialogue balloons to comic drawings; and all that on a ‘problematic’ square where people gather at night and often get drunk and aggressive. Talking about safety makes people think of the opposite. So we asked ourselves: What is the feeling on safety for the ‘average’ late-night city dweller? Where does he feel safe, and why? How can we influence a positive experience and positive behaviour? In a lively one-hour discussion with officials from the city of Amsterdam, there was general agreement on such things as the necessity of a sense of collaboration among all the people working on

the square (30 pubs!), a friendly attitude towards the police (throw out the uniforms), white suits for doormen, coffee bars and bakeries instead of snack bars open when the pubs close, ‘Playmobil’ for those who tend to get bored (the tree huts and the couple-egg proved to be great hangouts for such people!) The night at the square also showed what jam making can do for designing safety. It triggered conversation about feeling safe at home and how this relates to going out, when people want to break out of their straitjackets. People passing by also were asked to draw a circle on the street, marking their private comfort zone, that varied from 20 to 200 cm, or no circle at all. The safety map interviews proved the opposite of what the designers expected: everyone turned out to feel very safe on this so-called horrible square. And that’s what we ourselves experienced as well: it was a relaxing night, with friendly talks with all kinds of people. Next time we will choose the notorious Friday or Saturday night. In fact, drunk people are causing the problems and we need a general approach to that. Friendly actions provoke friendliness. That sounds obvious but it’s definitely something for designers to explore further in places like this. Young Designers will continue to do a series of ‘Rembrandt Nights’ with a new group of artists/designers on each occasion. New actions, creating a different atmosphere, feeding and strengthening the sense of safety that already exists among the visitors.


what design can do conclusions

what design can do! to conclude

what design can do conclusions


a genuine interest in real people

under the direction of dagan cohen (upload cinema) the audience participated in deciding on next year’s theme

common thing as our daily food is highly designed if it wasn’t for the Austrian duo Honey & Bunny. Both their presentation and their alternative dinner during one breakout session raised the awareness of the audience in humorous fashion. Several other presentations demonstrated the importance of the explorative curiosity of the designer. Rajesh Dahiya, representative of a generation of Indian designers, couldn’t take the notion of design that was ‘Indian’ for granted and set out on a reconnaissance expedition. His Colombian counterpart Esteban Ucrós started a similar exploration once he had discovered the value of vernacular designs on the streets of Bogota. In Amsterdam he mesmerized the audience with these expressive paintings and the stories of their makers. Alternatively, Suzanne Lee opened up our eyes to what is yet to come in her truly visionary exploration of future materials and biological production methods. Her presentation showed what design can do to influence where we will be 20 or 30 years from now. Developing new scenarios through research is also the game of Younghee Jung, who designs inventive research methods to find out what people really want from their products. What almost all speakers seemed to have in common was a genuine interest in real people, in their needs and demands. Their work starts by listening to and looking at people to find out what they really want and, accordingly, to facili-

tate these demands. All speakers connected us to other worlds, new visions, new ideas, laying out the multitude of opportunities design has to offer. Further, practically all the presentations showed that design disciplines no longer operate in isolation. Instead, they are more and more interwoven. Connection to other disciplines, to other professions, to craftsmen and scientists is what makes the design profession more exciting than ever before now. The many surprising outcomes of the breakout sessions demonstrated the value of exchanging ideas across disciplines and looking at the same question from different angles. Another observation that we can make after this edition of What Design Can Do! is the growing attention among designers for grassroots creativ-

ity. We saw it in the presentations by Raumlabor, Katherine Clarke and Esteban Ucrós alike, and certainly in the energizing performance by Cameron Sinclair. Nobody seems more capable than the Anglo-American architect of mobilizing his colleagues as well as everyone else he can use to make real change for those in real need. What makes his story so amazing is that Sinclair makes it all seem so simple. Think a little further, find the right people to join you, and you can move mountains. What’s the difficulty, Sinclair says, as long as you design like you give a damn. Once again, two days of What Design Can Do! celebrated the potential of the creative mind, a feast for all who attended.

ricciotti ensemble performed with spinvis

andrew shoben receives the book that’s in your hands

Special thanks to photographer of the event Leo Veger

In the weeks before the second What Design Can Do! conference the world witnessed what design can do through the publicity offensive for this year’s event. The yellow and red style, an elaboration on last year’s award-winning identity, was literally all over the place. The consistency in the visual language through all media – website, e-mailings, flyers, advertisements, posters, magazine supplements – made it hard to miss the message: that What Design Can Do! was on again. No wonder the conference drew 1000 designers and professionals from other fields to the city theatre in Amsterdam. This conference is about the impact of design. It shows how design can put people in motion and make a difference on many levels. And more specifically, how design can bring the world further. This second edition of What Design Can Do! featured two full days crammed with examples of how design can help people and organizations to connect to each other and to society as a whole: from Kees Dorst’s convincing design solutions for countering crime, to Febrik’s designs for playgrounds in Palestinian refugee camps, to Alphadi’s plea for fashion design as a peacekeeper, to Marcelo Rosenbaum’s interior designs that boost Brazilian self-esteem. At times the forces of design are hidden, camouflaged as in the landscapes of Piet Oudolf, who wants to grasp the whimsical beauty of unspoilt nature in meticulously designed gardens. And most of us would not realize that even such a

REACTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC What participants said about What Design Can Do! ‘Most speeches focused on what needs to

be done, all very necessary and good. But then again the unexpected ones, like Honey and Bunny or Suzanne Lee, provide a wacky vision and sheer joy in experiment that are very relevant for elevating the scope of the design field.’ Aditya Dev Sood (India/design thinker)

‘Especially the really social projects, like Febrik’s, encourage me to do better in my profession.’ Christine Delor (Belgium, textile designer)

‘It might be boring people by now, but it I think it’s great that this conference keeps on stressing the need for a more sustainable approach to design. Real knowledge of materials proves to be so relevant, and you see this in the work and approach of Piet Oudolf and Suzanne Lee.’ Franzi Kramer (Germany, architect/designer)

‘What sparked my interest mostly were the speeches by specialists like Esteban Ucrós, Suzanne Lee, Ina Jurga and Daan Roosegaarde. These are designers operating in a variety of fields, who bring so much utter passion and dedication to their subjects. Seeing them here on stage makes me realize how important these unique personalities are in helping to achieve innovation.’ Marielle Janmaat (Netherlands, product developer)

‘I will leave this conference fully inspired. If I did not have a cool project to work on myself already, I would definitely start working for Cameron Sinclair. His presentation rocked the house!’ Isabel Dechamps (Germany, founder of Able)

‘This year’s edition of WDCD presents a selection of topics and speakers that is more eccentric and interesting. Not just fashion and furniture, but bacteria, plants and people are treated now. I am leaving the city theatre inspired to change things through my craft.’


‘I came to this conference to get inspired, and so far it has been like a bomb full of ideas.’ Karina Peña (Dominican Republic, architect)

‘I enjoyed the presentation by Honey & Bunny, because it was so surprising and humorous: striking to see how they put so much sensibility into extracting information about things we consider ordinary.’ Esteban Ucrós (Colombia, graphic designer/curator)

Jouel Tiu (Canada/communication specialist)

see you in 2013!


With a lineup of international speakers from all design disciplines, What Design Can Do! is a platform for designers to manifest the social potential of their profession. Together with the audience, the speakers discuss alternative strategies for the future. Participants are stimulated to come up with their own answers and ideas. This makes What Design Can Do! an activist conference. This book presents the outcome of two days of exchanging ideas between designers and other professionals of all disciplines.

Remco Oude Alink (Netherlands, graphic designer)

‘A lot of good solutions are proposed from different angles of the profession, but a lot of unanswered questions also popped up during this conference. I hope these questions can be the start of developing new ideas and finding ways to make a better future.’

Too often design is associated only with aesthetics, trends and luxury, but design can mean so much more. At its best, design can change, improve, renew, inspire, involve, shock, move, disrupt, help or solve. What Design Can Do! intends to demonstrate the value of design thinking as a response to the challenges of today’s world.






what design can do! celebrates the power of design and its problem-solving abilities. This two-day event in Amsterdam exposes design as a catalyst of change and renewal and a way of addressing the societal questions of our time.





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