Thinking through bamboo. The challenge of dealing with sustainable issues in a developing country, Argentina.


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September 2010. Bangalore- India. I have used this presentation in the Lens Conference: Sustainability in Design: now!. It presents a workshop with 50 designers to do objects on bamboo. It tells about the policies and the importance for the designers to be involved into policy making.

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  • I am Mariana Salgado, and the other Mariana could not make it. We both did this paper and this presentation. I am happy that I came here, as sustainability is a new area of interest for me, and during the last two days I have been learnign a lot from your presentations. Actually we decided to participate in this conference because we noticed that there is an increasing interest on sustainable design, but very little done in our country.
  • This story of this project begins with a plan in the Design Metropolitan Centre to conduct workshops to promote sustainability. Other workshps concentrate on different materials as adobe and nylon scrap. Actually this plan is larger and it also includes festivals, fairs and seminars. They hired me to conduct one workshop for a group of 50 participants to design on bamboo.
  • An interesting fact to mention here is that most Argentinean designers set up their own studio as soon as they finnish their university degree. Therefore, for them, these seminars are an opportunity to continue developing and exchange with other designers. I describe this situation because then is possible to understand that this informal education of graduate designers towards design for sustainability is a key factor, as they are the leaders of their small and medium sized companies and they can influence with their design production both clients, end-users and the society at large.
  • In the paper I am presenting we used the workshps, the objects and the interviiews as tools for thinking on sustainability. The interviews were done both to the designers that participated in the workshop and to experts in policie.
  • Using these toold, what we try is to answer these two main questions. You might think why this interest in policies, and it is mainly because we are working in a city design center and we can influence policies that can reinforce design for sustainability. Our center design campaigns, competition, does publications and many other actions to influecen design.
  • We analyzed the results of the workshop. It was good to gather designer…. The workshop as an activity gave us the possibility to get to know a vast group of designers and discuss with them on the basis of their design proposals.
  • In general, designers are more familiar with this type of discussion, based on their own proposals. Presenting design decisions behind a proposal, designers present themselves and their values. In other events (as conference or festivals) we have had difficulty in creating fruitful discussions that really influence design decisions, but workshops allow designers to learn in our own way, by doing.
  • The designers were in general happy getting to know the material, and eager to work with an eco-friendly material.
  • The material was the key issue for starting a dialogue on sustainability. Therefore, in order to start sensitising the designers, choosing an eco-friendly material was the simplest way we could find for opening the discussion on the subject. Also, beginning by selecting a material that is renewable, recyclable and compostable was a way to start the life cycle of the products in line with design for sustainability principles. The selection of the material makes designers psychologically aware of and conscious about the framework of the workshop in within sustainable development. They could not avoid thinking about other characteristics of the design proposals that reinforce their projects in this context.
  • There were products that used the bamboo in a laminar way,
  • others that took the natural shape of it
  • , some added new technology to its processing as laser cutting to generate textures.
  • Also, there were products that merged the bamboo with other materials as the aluminium, using the bamboo as the structural material.
  • Most of the designers finally produce a prototype but they cannot put it in the market as such. These prototypes need more time for developing, in order to adjust costs and have the quality and the standard of products.
  • Some of the participants-designers have their own companies, and they did a product to complement their collection. Still these products cannot be sell, since they luck development and investment
  • The bamboo objects were the tools for thinking and specially talking with the designers about: The future of these prototypes The possibility of this objects in the market Learning for sustainability Role of the designer in a society (social responsibility) Eco-labels
  • Most of the designers thought that the only thing that they need for making these products into the market was finantial resources and they do not see policies as a way to influence in these finantial resources. They do not perceived any need in getting for example more resources for better understanding eco labels and their possibilities in the Latinoamerican market. They lack the knowledge and the support in putting together a business with these characteristics due to the fact that the economic resources may be found when you have a clear vision of what you need.
  • Policies need to address the need for collaboration. In our specific project we, workers from the city of Buenos Aires collaborate ith the people in the province, in the Delta of La plata river because we found out by chance that both institutions have decided to motivate the use of bamboo. The collaboration was not easy, as both institutions are far away and there is no incentives for collaboration. At the moment the collaboration within organizations is not set as priority in the agenda, but as something that might or might not happen depending on the good will of the persons involved. Sometimes collaboration means that we spend working days by travelling to meet people in other parts of the city. In the case of the bamboo workshop for example there is two hours car trip from one organization to the other. Incentives for workers involved in networks of collaboration within other organizations could be a positive change. We need policies that can motivate people to do projects together. we notice the lack of meeting points with several organizations whose work relates to sustainability
  • At the beginning of our bamboo project we understood the importance of creating a discussion forum in order to share ideas and debate. This is why we started a blog, together with all participants of the workshop, to promote the online discussion with the members of the other organizations, producers, vendors, designers and researchers that could be interested in bamboo. We gave all designers in the workshop editorial rights so they can modify all articles in the blog, in this way we try them to write together on their research and design process. We also try to stimulate collaboration through the blog with the other institution that was involved in the workshop. But: a) most of the designers were not familiar with sharing their draft online and they were not confortable with the idea; b) most of the designers were not familiar with the wordpress environment and find difficult to add articles, c) People for the other institution did not collaborate and we could not start a dialogue through the blog, though we try to encourage it. We believe that more time has to be devoted to introduced these tools as they could be efficient for collaboration.
  • In Argentina important oil companies are asking their providers to get the certifications in this way they generate a chain of good practice. Still we need more and constant incentives for getting the certifications. The more the government should induce companies to get the certifications supporting their payment, excepting companies that voluntary use the international labels from taxes, and giving consulting guidance, the more the companies will react positively towards sustainable issues. And designers have a role to play here stimulating companies to get these voluntary labels.
  • Designers and companies need more instruction for using analytical tools such as the one that Kimi Ceridon proposes as a good practice for measuring environmental impact. But also there is a need to understand labels and policies related to sustainability.
  • The government could provide support for translation and printing of the already published material on Design for Sustainability. Editorial projects that promote and communicate concrete tools for designers are missing. We believe that by promoting these projects designers could make more informed decisions. There is a lot of researchers that want to wright their own books, but little effort is put in translating material that is already published in other languages. As the people that can read english in Argentina is only a few, this can be important.
  • Event and fairs are necessary to increase the visibility of sustainability projects
  • At the moment there is only one significant competition or prize in the country that specially deal with the issue of Design for sustainability, and this could be a simple way to put designers to incorporate these values to their design decisions. It is, nowadays, starting to be one of the basic criteria used to select the awarded ones. The most important National Design Competition (Innovar, 2010) deals with innovation and has special categories for sustainable projects.
  • We believe that we have a lot to do in a country as Argentina and we hope we can possibilitvely influence future actions and policies working for the city of Buenos Aires and reflecting on these issues.
  • Thinking through bamboo. The challenge of dealing with sustainable issues in a developing country, Argentina.

    1. 1. Thinking through Bamboo. Challenges of designing for sustainability in Argentina Mariana Salgado / Mariana Massigoge Centro Metropolitano de Diseño- Ciudad de Buenos Aires
    2. 4. <ul><li> workshop </li></ul><ul><li> + objects </li></ul><ul><li> + interviews </li></ul><ul><li>To participants </li></ul><ul><li>To experts (policies and development) </li></ul>
    3. 5. <ul><li>How could governmental policies motivate design for sustainability in developing countries from a designers’ perspective? </li></ul><ul><li>How policies could reinforce collaboration while the goal is sustainability? </li></ul>
    4. 6. <ul><li>Workshop </li></ul>
    5. 7. <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><li>Gather designers and up date them after university degree </li></ul><ul><li>Fill the gap that university curricula does not address </li></ul><ul><li>Estimulate new networks in professional stage </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce the material possibilities and the sustainability issue </li></ul>
    6. 8. <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><li>Motivate discussions that can influence design decisions </li></ul>
    7. 9. <ul><li>Designers were happy and eager to work with bamboo </li></ul>
    8. 10. <ul><li>and grow their curiosity on the subject </li></ul>
    9. 11. Material election was a key factor
    10. 12. <ul><li>Objects </li></ul>
    11. 17. <ul><li>But not enough for: </li></ul><ul><li>Making products that can compete in the market </li></ul>
    12. 18. <ul><li>But not enough for: </li></ul>Inserting their products into their own collections
    13. 19. <ul><li>Interviews& discussions </li></ul>
    14. 21. <ul><li>Need of the economic and profesional expertise </li></ul>
    15. 22. Incentives for collaboration
    16. 23. Increase use of social media in the collaboration projects
    17. 24. Incentives for getting certifications
    18. 26. Provide support for translation and printing
    19. 29. Thanks!