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.