Category Archives: Research 1570s, “act of searching closely,” from M.Fr. recerche (1530s), from O.Fr. recercher “seek out, search closely,” from re-, intensive prefix, + cercher “to seek for” Meaning “scientific inquiry” is first attested 1630s. Related: Researched; researching

I don’t want to be a dictator

and thanks Kenny for reminding me of this…

Nonviolent Communication

I’m totally getting into this now :-) And he is such a great lecturer! The four components of nonviolent communication are 1. observation (concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being) 2. feeling (how we feel in relation to what we are observing) 3. needs (the needs, values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings) 4. requests (concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives)

more soon :-)

Chronology of a Failure

Sometime ago, I came across this nice publication which I finally ordered today (looking forward to hold it in my hands!). It was developed by an onlab summer school in 2011. Here is what it says on their website: “Beginning right after World War II, the fight against poverty has seen a new fad nearly every decade. Major institutions such as the World Bank, national governments and a growing number of NGOs declare a new ideology which promises to reduce hunger, and improve health, education and human rights at a stroke. Alas, neither the Green Revolution nor Structural Adjustment Policies nor a focus on participation led to real improvements in the lives of the poor. Has progress really been as disappointing as it looks, and do new approaches give any hope for improvement?”



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these are some of the slides which I used for my Pecha Kucha last week. We have to start with ourselves if we want to change the world to the better…



Conference: Design without Borders – Creating Change

Last thursday, I participated at the international design conference “Design without Borders – Creating Change”. It was part of an on-going exhibition about the work of “Design without borders” at DoGA, the center for Design and Architecture in Oslo. “Design without borders” is involved in different development projects around the world and the conference was giving attention to projects and designers that improve the quality of life of people instead of producing more “nice” consumer goods. I’m always happy when I have the opportunity to go to such events where I can listen to and meet people that are actively working on making this world a better place (just a week ago, I was quite sad about not having enough time to fully participate at another interesting conference called “Everything that is banned is desired”).

Allmost all the speakers mentioned the importance of involving people in the design process. Elizabeth Palmer, a consultant for the Danish Refugee Council, said that designers should not think that we are better just because we have a degree. Instead, we need to involve local people as expats – people who are more resourceful and pragmatic than us designers educated in western institutions. This also opened the question of aesthetics and of what is a good form. “Designtoimprovelife” measures design by form (design), impact (what’s improving?) and context (life).

I was especially impressed by a talk from Anna Kirah, a design anthropologist from the United States but based in Norway. Not only was the presentation itself engaging, personal and fun but she was also talking about human-centered design and co-creation. She mentioned how important it is, to understand the aspirations and motivations of people and that in order to be able to do this, we need empathy and active listening skills – we need to understand people from their own perspectives and not our own. This is an ability that from my personal experiences and observations, most people seem to miss and I wonder how we can include it in our learning. She finished her speech with “Leadership is to create a world where people want to belong to.” (Robert B. Dilts)

For the evening program, I gave a Pecha Kucha about how we as designers need to change in order to be able to create change. Quite scary infront of all the people! I will post my slides later…

Images from the exhibition at DoGA

How to start a revolution

Just yesterday, Mads gave me this interesting and very encouraging documentary. It reveals how the book From Dictatorship to Democracy
– A Conceptual Framework for Liberation of Gene Sharp empowered and encouraged people all over the world to take iniative to change their world non-violently. The book provides tools and methods to do so – and talking a few days ago about systemic changes, I wonder in how far we can apply these methods to  other areas (our economic system? social services…?) where change is needed… Or what kind of methods do we need here?

Design as Catalyst

I want to share some thoughts and notes I took during the lecture by Ezio Manzini at KHiO, thursday 3rd of March.

Ezio Manzini – designer, engineer, architect, educator and author – is one of the most important thinkers in design today. Manzini’s works are based on strategic design and design for sustainability, with a focus on scenario building and solution development. He acknowledges the influential role design can play in changing our ways of thinking and living. Manzini challenges designers to re-orient creativity towards sustainable solutions.


Even though the lecture was about very general issues and I did neither learn new things nor did I have many “Aha-moments”, I still enjoyed being there. The lecture was about Design as Catalyst for Social Innovation and it mainly dealt with a sustainable future where people are not only seen as part of the problem but as part and possible agents of a sustainable solution. Design not only for the need of people but design with using people as a resource: what can they do and what tools can they use to solve problems by themselves? Manzini says (and I completely agree) that there is a lot of technological innovation – but what we really need are social innovations that are based on a set of sustainable values and qualities. We have to learn how to live better with consuming less considering and improving our quality of relationships, the quality of (public and private) space and quality of time. I somehow missed quality of food :-) – but this would probably come under technological innovation.

Furthermore, Manzini mentioned that many things are happening right now in social innovation, which give positive impulses. People start to organize themselves, finding sustainable solutions for current local problems. I liked the metaphor he gave for sustainability: that first there were only some stars and then, constellations began to form. And even though people and projects are different, they move in a convergent way. Seeing historical examples, this might at one point result in a “revolution”.

Manzini also mentioned the advantage of developing countries and used farmer markets as an example. The modern farmer markets do not only sell products – they are selling a story which is a reason of their re-vival and success in western countries. Developing countries can move directly to this stage – avoiding negative impacts of mass-production and supermarkets that we face in our part of the world.

What I missed a little bit in this talk were examples of where designers actually worked as catalysts. In fact, Manzini asked the questions what professional designers can do in a world where everyone is a designer but he did not give any answers. The projects he shared with us, seemed to work fine without the help of professional designers…