for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Cameron Sinclair, Architecture for Humanity – offers real food for thought

I go to loads of events, conferences and talks, and although I always have the best intentions I very rarely get round to writing up my notes for you to enjoy. This time however the talk I went to this evening was so amazing it would be wrong not to share! The event was at the RSA to honour Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of the truly incredible Architecture for Humanity, with the RSA 2009 Bicentenary Medal.

I’ve been a fan of the non-profit design organization for a while now, ever since I learned about their tsunami relief project (thanks to Design Museum’s Designer of the Year competition) and love getting their newsletters and wishing I was clever enough to enter their design competitions, but this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to see Sinclair in action – and I think I love him!

The video gives you a pretty good overview of the way the organization works, and is definitely worth watching – but it was the content of his talk that was even more powerful. Here are my jumbled notes, I hope they make some sense and give a bit of an insight what was a truly eye-opening and inspirational hour it was, and I highly recommend you watch the video when it’s up on the RSA site (probably in a week or so)

– Architecture for Humanity has helped somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people so far

– It is a decentralised network of people using their architectural skills to make a difference – 72 local chapters 5383 volunteers – they were surprised to find that the majority are licensed architects (67%) [ie not students], 62% are female, average age is 32 years, 15% are British, and there’s a 50/50 split between those from developed and developing countries

– Aftermath of Katrina was ‘criminal neglect from US government’

– ‘don’t just be the change – be the bank’ – allow people access to funds directly
Lots of the African Americans in New Orleans owned their houses outright (had been passed down through generations) so didn’t have mortgage = didn’t have credit rating, so got nothing to rebuild

– A4H created a library of skills for/ with residents – swapping practical skills – invisible economy coming up to help each other. They found that lots of architects were turning up just to get involved and help rebuild the community

if you don’t build it it doesn’t exist – you can’t just design it you have to build it

– One graphic design student converted 70 pages of government policy into a one page visualisation – this was so powerful for the government A4H managed to force change in policy

– Needed to create homes to be sustainable – to help the families afford the insurance and the energy bills- being sustainable as a way to create equity

– There are 4bn people in emerging middle class – spending money on healthcare, improving homes and education

– In this century we’re going to double the number of structures on this earth – it’s  pretty exciting time to be an architect

– Creative commons architectural ideas – 21000 people involved so far

– A4H ran a competition to design a classroom for the future – connecting with local schools – teachers and students being part of the design team – creating site specific ideas. 1000 teams entered from 65 nations, 250 schools got new designs

– some recent projects: Skatistan, Plastiki, The Homeless World Cup in Brazil

– some brilliant points:

  • It’s better to be the tugboat than the oiltanker – we can move much faster with the ebb and flow
  • It’s better to have 5billion clients than 50
  • Culture is an aspect of sustainability – everything is local – people interpret religion, community in diff ways
  • A strong society creates strong economy
  • There is no such thing as the 3rd world
  • Your client is your design expert
  • Ethics is aesthetics
  • We build communities not destinations
  • Instigate the no asshole policy – don’t work with them, don’t take money from them, don’t hire them

Filed under: collaborative working, creative ideas, good, Uncategorized, , , , ,

365 offers a new take on fashion- every day of the year!

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If you think your wardrobe’s too predictable, how about a different outfit for each day of the year? That’s what 365’s designer Alexander Serda is offering with a design concept that presents the wearer with a different pair of trousers for every day of the year. A truly luxurious offering, not only is each pair of trousers tailored to the customer’s requirements and embroidered inside with the date, the outfit is delivered in a handmade trunk alongside La Perla knickers embroidered with the relevant day of the week!!  Well out of the price range of most mortals (starting price is £677), the idea takes an interesting slant on out throwaway society- though in an era of eco and ethical consumerism, will such unnecessary extravagance be something customers want to associate themselves with?

Read more at vogue.co.uk

Filed under: creative ideas,

BRING BACK RATIONING

There’s a really interesting article from this weekend’s Financial Times by Richard Tomkins which talks about ideas for the future of purchasing. It looks at how traditionally price altering prevented certain products being available to the masses, but now the problem is not the material possessions but dwindling natural resources and environmental issues, and offers a possible solution…

“How, I wonder, would people respond if the cost of motoring were pushed up to the point where only the very wealthy could afford to drive their cars and everyone else had to use public transport? Or if the cost of air travel were raised to the point where only the super-rich could afford to fly?”

“With just a little adjustment, it [rationing] could be updated to our more market-orientated times. We could each be given an annual quota of environmental credits, or e-credits, to spend as we wished on goods or services to which access was restricted on environmental grounds.”

  • bring back rationing
  • Filed under: visions of the future, ,

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