A meeting in our school discussing possible futures and how to approach them – and maybe importantly how design schools can be prominent laboratories in that direction.

We received a very inspiring guest here in Oslo this week. The architect/designer/teacher and sustainability guru Ezio Manzini. He gave a motivational lecture that was mainly attended by students and staff in our school and AHO, the school of architecture and design next door.

He promoted ideas about social innovation and design. Something that I have been involved in for quite a while. This kind of activity has been enjoying major growth during the recent years. In some ways facilitated by social networking on the Internet, but the activity has always existed and before the internet was natural phenomenon and I have met it to a large extent in Africa for example. There is only a different system with the introduction of the internet. One can say that it is just plain cooperation to get things done and changed.

Interesting how we have been talking about how everyone is actually a creative designer in various ways. People are generally innovative when it comes to responding to pressing issues, and usually their actions are to make things simpler, easier and more beautiful – the three definitions of a design activity. To maintain that only artists and designers are creative is a mix of terms. All people are creative.

I remember when one of my first groups of students in the then new academy in Iceland (The Iceland Academy of Art) were invited to the Milano Satellite Show in Italy in 2003. They created a very interesting design exercise named: Designer for a Day by The amazing design kids. There they actually kicked their fathers. The typical star designers that had got used to being on the front covers of design journals. The group proposed that everyone is a designer, is creative and they produced a magazine that they handed out in the Milan Show. Now, this is a much more common activity in design. To promote relational design, co-design, human centered design etc etc.

Manzini has been very influential in promoting sustainability and how design method or designers are central actors in that enormous task. He and a small number of people globally have formed a working group, hoping to link together interested parties into a network, The DESIS Network where we will share ideas. This is a network of schools of design and other schools, institutions, companies and non-profit organizations interested in promoting and supporting design for social innovation and sustainability. It is a light, no-profit organization, conceived as a network of partners collaborating in a peer-to-peer spirit.

It so happens that the themes they are interested in are the same that have been prevalent in my work in Mozambique, linking together active people that are interested to get something done to make a change. Change for a better society, for a more sustainable future. We will keep the dialogue for the coming months and meet again in Paris in May when we will all be present in the Cumulus Conference.

March 7, 2011  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: DESIGN, PONDERINGS