11
Mar 13

Base of the Pyramid – An inspiring day at Delft

As my Walkabout progresses I’m getting more interested in emerging markets (i.e. Brazil, Russia, India and China referred to as the BRIC) where design is being used to meet the demands of the growing consumer culture. It was great to learn more about the use of design at the Base of the (economical) Pyramid from attending Beyond Design at Delft, The Netherlands 7th September 2012. Here is Delft’s description from the event of what BoP is (remembering that 7 billion people are living in the world today):

“Four billion people live on an income of US$ 8 a day or less, often referred to as the ‘Base of the (economical) Pyramid’ (BoP). This enormous part of the world population has been overlooked and underserved for a long time by, amongst others, industrial design schools and ‘for profit companies’. Since the publication of ‘Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ in 2002 a big shift of interest and commitment can be observed. A range of companies and design schools started to get engaged in collaboration with NGOs, social entrepreneurs and local stakeholders to explore, develop and implement product (service) systems for the BoP.”

The event was held in honor of Prof. Prabhu Kandachar the key intellectual in this space, as he was about to retire he shared his learning and brought together an amazing range of speakers on the BoP subject from both design and business perspectives. Each speaker provided a truly engaging and amazing viewpoint on the subject, a summary is provided below:

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06
Mar 13

Developing an interest in Designing Ecosystems in the Amazon

Something that I had not planned was my trip to the Amazon during my time in Brazil. After the Instituto Nokia de Tecnologia INDT in Recife’s collaboration with The Design Doctor, they invited me to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon. Thanks to them, that last week in Brazil was truly amazing. Manaus can only be reached by air and boat, and on the flight I’ve never seen so many trees.

I know that, for me, the best way to slow down and see is to sketch and just listen. I took this opportunity to see Brazil from a different angle, as you can only get to Manaus by boat or flight, and I would get out my sketch book, with no Internet connection for three full days. I also had some time to understand the ecosystem, as I’ve always been interested in biology. So below are some of my sketches.

Where the rivers meet, two large ecosystems come together slowly over the course of 15km, so you see two different colours of rivers; where the Negro and Solimões rivers meet.

2012-09-19 10.00.16

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02
Oct 12

Exploring Your Inner Chicken

The quality in my friends that I most admire is the explorer’s spirit within them.
At the start of my time in Brazil there were a lot of things holding me back from being a great explorer. But I came to understand that you really need to explore the context you find yourself in and the people you meet there, also because it helps you adjust to cultural differences as you understand more.

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26
Sep 12

Brazilian walkabout reflections: A Prototyping Mindset

I’ve come to see Brazil as a huge prototype! With the lack of formal structure in the way things are done and the lack of resources, everyone does things for themselves, which results in a lot of chaos and lot of creativity.

I learnt from Voël that businesses have to pay taxes every month in Brazil (rather than every 6 months like we do in the UK) and there is so much complexity to opening a company – when I told them you can open a company in a day in the UK they were really shocked! And I was quite surprised by what they receive in exchange for their taxes as compared to the UK.

For example when I went to Manaus, a city in the Amazon to work with INDT I was really interested in the pathways which weren’t very well kept – when I asked why this was, I was told it was because everyone has to look after their own because there is no government support. This made sense of the sights I was seeing, of everyone using a lot of water to wash their pathway.

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21
Sep 12

Mozaiko 3 comes to Rio!!

André Malherio the Local Leader of IxDA – Interaction Design Association South America in Rio de Janeiro invited the third and final edition of Mozaiko to Rio on June 20th. Eduardo from Voël and myself welcomed a group of 12 individuals from business, design and entrepreneurship to gather at Comuna in Botafogo, Rio. It was an ideal location in Rio, centrally located with an in and outdoor space with a relaxed atmosphere, plus they made amazing food for the day – I found myself eating Nigella Lawson cookies!

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14
Sep 12

São Paulo: Understanding design innovation in the emerging market of Brazil

Following my time in Chile, I headed to São Paulo – this was where I had landed on first arriving in Brazil three months earlier, and I was really eager to explore it because when seen from the sky it was absolutely gigantic and I couldn’t understand how a city so big could function – I had heard that the previous week there had been a 292 km traffic jam, and that whenever it rains the city stops functioning.

I was in São Paulo to do some interviews for the Design Transitions book that I am working on with Joyce Yee and Lauren Tan. What I was particularly interested in exploring with the people I met was their emerging market, and how they develop service design and innovation consultancy in that context. I was meeting with service design companies INSITUM and Live|Work in Brazil, and Brazil’s largest(ish) bank Itaú.

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14
Sep 12

Start-up Chile and Understanding Brazil from a Different Angle

In May I visited Santiago in Chile, after being invited to participate in Startup Chile Demo Day by DesignThinkers Chilean partner Alfredo Osorio, who runs Bombacamp – a program that uses design thinking and lean approaches to enable the growth of start ups. I attended with Eduardo from Voël Design – this was a day when my world felt very small, as all my international connections were in one room!

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17
May 12

The Second Edition of Mozaiko – Recife

The second edition of Mozaiko moved to Recife in the very north of Brazil. Mozaiko was asked to put on a one day workshop at www.expoidea.com.br which is an event being held in a shopping mall in the middle of Recife’s cultural hub. The event was focused on technology, culture and sustainability and featured a showcase of future products and technologies (such as robots designed to encourage children to build their own robots from materials like paper).

The location was interesting because it was central, which was good for the workshops because people could go out and explore and ask the public questions. It was also the location for ‘Mangue Bit’, a big cultural movement in the 1990s. For me personally it was a really interesting location as the area had a lot of Dutch heritage and some of the people living there had distinctly Dutch features – I was on a Dutch hunt, and I did find what I was looking for – No he was a really good friend of Marcos from Voel! Look we are nearly the same colour!

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07
May 12

My Time Inside

During Voel’s Mozaiko workshops, I expressed my interest in finding out about social innovation work in Belo Horizonte. Members of the Minas, Belo Horizonte government invited me to visit the Complexo Penitencia Rio de Ponte Nova jail, to look at rehabilitation projects being developed by their Policy Lab. My initial thought was: I know I learn best when outside my comfort zone, and this looked like a big opportunity to go waaaay outside that comfort zone!

I was most interested in learning about the project from the prisoners’ point of view, and the representative of the Policy Lab really helped me to do this by asking questions for me in Portuguese so I could communicate with the prisoners. To really understand the context of the work I wanted to speak to everyone involved, so I also spoke with the guards and the director of the jail.

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07
May 12

The First Edition of Mozaiko

My work at Voel involves co-developing a social innovation platform called Mozaiko with the team, and we held the first workshop in a fantastic location called Centro Quatro in the middle of Belo Horizonte on 14th and 15th April 2012. In a previous post I talked about they WHY of Mozaiko is to gather responses to this question:

‘How can we help people in our local community to solve the problems that really matter to them?’

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