THE OTHER DESIGN
(ZONE OF EMPATHY)
Hybrid Usership – design thinking & its moving targets
Migrating Cultural Capital -
Designing the distributed institution
Regional diversity in China is often represented as a combination of minority culture, landscape specificity, and local custom.
Local regional cultural diversity is then transformed into something that can be consumed either as product or experience so that it can be leveraged in the service of developing rural tourist economies and for the promotion and branding of place.
These consumption-based “cultural” economies have mixed long-term impacts on traditional cultural practice, heritage preservation, the maintenance of identity, and community cohesion. In the city the representation of cultural diversity is often fraught with the politics of the state and its attendant social and economic prerogatives.
Historically cultural diversity has often been represented in urban centers as a means of claiming the “exotic” within the centralized power strictures of the state and thus communicating the cohesion of whole, from empire to the modern nation-state. This can be seen in examples of markets and exhibitions ranging from the Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition of 1851 in the United Kingdom that codified the mechanisms of colonization, to places like Dilli Haat in New Delhi today that attempt to reconcile regional diversity into a geographic and cultural whole. In the context of the workshop we ask if a different type of strategy can be enacted—that of the distributed cultural institution that seeks to work tactically within networks of people rather than through a centralized institution. While these individuals are loosely dispersed within the urban fabric, there is the potential to identify, aggregate, and build tools to better bind these communities together. Craft, music, and food are highly portable examples of cultural heritage that can be replicated, taught, transformed, and evolved to meet contemporary conditions.
Catherine McMahon & Jenny Chou (ATLAS)
Nicola Saladino (reMIX Studio)
As a low-wage labor force migrant populations are not often viewed in terms of their embodied cultural potentials, and in fact these rural or traditional identities can be seen as a detriment to social mobility and assimilation in the city.
However a number of individuals still find ways to keep themselves culturally rooted to their places of origin. A key example of cultural displacement can be seen in the continued practice of traditional craft by those who have relocated to urban centers.
While these individuals are loosely dispersed within the urban fabric, there is the potential to identify, aggregate, and help better bind these communities together.
Craft and Social Practice
Craft is a highly portable example of cultural heritage that can be replicated, taught, transformed, and evolved to meet new contemporary conditions.
While a strong example, explorations of stored cultural identity in these communities is not limited to craft — it can extend out to a number of expressions from food, to music, to entertainment, etc.
• Maintain cultural identity and practice in urban context
• Leverage unique cultural knowledge for economic, or other benefit
• Strengthen urban-rural networks, potentially create new rural opportunity as well
• Engage next generation of social entrepreneurs to think creatively about cultural production
The work of community building and engagement is slow and evolves over time —therefore the workshop is a critical space at the beginning of this process to activate, frame, and test a number of proposals for potential outcomes. Rapid iteration of cultural “initiatives” is an opportunity to surface key questions and frameworks that will shape a trajectory to structure
short,mid, and long-term objectives.
The term “initiative” is meant to serve as a catch-all to describe projects that bring together the work of community building, social enterprise, and design.
The resulting proposals can operate at various scales, from design of a product that can be the basis of a new enterprise model, to the design of a tool-kit to support cultural activation within the city, to the envisioning of an entire platform / network to bring together a number of activities, groups, and audiences. In the workshop we will work to clarify stakeholder ecologies
and make explicit questions of audience, beneficiaries, models, and markets amongst others.
Case studies prepared beforehand are points of reference for the groups—but individuals can also bring their own examples, ideas, and networks to the table to bring further specificity to the discussion.
The main focus will be on creating a well structured proposal that is expressed as the product of multi-disciplinary design. In other words, the proposals are not merely a series of questions or provocations but should envision tangible outputs of an initiative that can serve to clarify and unify a vision for engagement and future projects.