Design For the First World, A Contest

03 May

Halfway between a joke and reality, a contest, created by Carolina Vallejo, a graduate student in NYU’s Interactive Technologies Program. Timely too, considering how badly that million t shirt thing went over.

Dx1W began as a sar­cas­tic com­ment. The idea came to me in a class in which I was asked to cre­ate an object on “social design”. The assign­ment was one week long and there was no spe­cific con­text. Why would you assume that you can design some­thing to solve a prob­lem for the so called Third World –a world you don’t know– in a week? Well, because Bono has told us so. Didn’t we all just change the world by going to the Live 8 con­certs? Hav­ing this assign­ment in class (in NYU) imme­di­ately fired me up and raised my dis­com­fort lev­els with the attempts from First World agents to solve Third World Prob­lems to nuclear fusion tem­per­a­tures. I decided to do some­thing about it and this is how this com­pe­ti­tion was born.

To set things straight I am not ques­tion­ing the need for aid or the good inten­tions. What really dis­turbs me are the pater­nal­is­tic and mis­in­formed approaches that end up as a waste of resources and cause more harm than good in the long run. This approach to aid has been cri­tiqued before, there’s even a term for this kind of design in acad­e­mia: para­chute design or remote design. What hap­pens when some­one does a para­chute design is that the well and nicely designed objects aimed to “improve” aspects of a com­mu­ni­ties are over­look­ing the real prob­lems and the con­text of that com­mu­nity, and hence, if lucky, they end up as part of the fur­ni­ture or as chil­dren toys (if they are durable). As a side effect the designer is mocked in that com­mu­nity for years to come and will be dubbed “El gringo” from then on, pass­ing that name on to any other white guy that set foot in that vil­lage. Oh we’re such a bunch of smart asses in the devel­op­ing world.

Read more of the how this came about here

We’re call­ing artists, design­ers, tin­ker­ers, mak­ers, and thinkers with an idea to par­tic­i­pate. Two con­di­tions only: you were born in and live right now in a Devel­op­ing Coun­try and you are 13 years of age or older.

Design For the First World

Design For the First World, A Contest

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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Activism, Aid, get educated, Other Stuff


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