«Can design change society?»
Social Design is the design of society with society. How this works is shown by the exhibition of the same name at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (Zurich Design Museum), which can be seen until the beginning of February.
«Can design change society?», will be the question asked to visitors before they enter the exhibition room. This also corresponds to the main question at the ‹Social Design› show, which tries to answer this question using 25 national and international projects. «When selecting the projects, we paid attention to their social and design quality, but also to the transparency of the processes associated with them», explains the curator Angeli Sachs. «We should be able to verify how the work was carried out and what dialogue took place between those involved.»
A project, which satisfies these criteria is the ‹Flying8› weaving loom by Andreas Möller. As part of a re-training project for hand-weavers in Ethiopia, the German entrepreneur noticed that affordable and easily available weaving looms were often not accessible to the local population. In order to help improve this situation, he compiled instructions to build a weaving loom using simple materials within just a few days. It therefore consists of wood, cardboard or cords and can be put together without any drills or other electrical tools.
A simple idea, which created sustainable production conditions and ensured the livelihood of many workers. «Projects like this one influence social conditions and bring about a permanent change», explained Angeli Sachs.
Another example is the ‹Little Sun› solar light by Olafur Eliasson and Frederik Ottensen, which is intended to help people who live in areas without any electricity supply; if the light is charged for at least five hours in the sun, it can supply light for up to 50 hours. Every one of these, which is sold in electrified regions of the world at a higher price, ensures that it is available at a lower price in areas without any electricity
Similar to ‹Flying8›, ‹Little Sun› also influences social conditions and focusses attention back on inadequacies such as the scarcity of resources and a lack of opportunities for the future, like those that exist in many countries: Approximately 15 percent of the world’s populationhad to live without electricity in 2017.
In order to counteract imbalances in resources and means of production, education and opportunities for the future, society must re-organise itself and consider how it would like to structure the world of tomorrow. When doing so, not only designers, but also consumers must assume social and ecological responsibility.
This necessity is also expressed in the exhibition, in which one can become involved as a visitor: By proposing other social-design projects or marking on a map of the city of Zurich the places that have potential in terms of social, ecological or economic sustainability. «It’s precisely with this topic that involvement plays an important role», thinks Angeli Sachs. «The exhibition can also promote a discussion.» The 25 projects are therefore merely examples and allow people to think about the situations, which can still be changed.