28 August 2009

Index: Design to Improve Life

While the Bambulance didn't win in its category, the team is grateful to be in the company of such amazing designs that truly do seek to improve life. I watched the ceremony and was encouraged to see so much attention brought to the ways design can and will improve the way we (and others) live. I was also encouraged to learn how much Index: does beyond the awards to actively engage the community with its objectives.

2009 Finalists

2009 Index:Award Winners

11 August 2009

Bambulance Project

As a designer who cares about how my skills might be used for those on the margins, you can imagine how delighted I was to find an organization in my own backyard that wants to do the same! Design For Development is dedicated to using the design process as a problem-solving tool to address issues in poverty-stricken areas of the world.

In 2007, DFD and a few interns from ECUAD developed a project to improve healthcare access in underserved communities by designing a safe, affordable and sustainable means of medical transportation. The Bambulance is a bicycle–pulled emergency medical transport device created in response to the lack of safe, affordable and sustainable healthcare transportation in underserved communities in the developing world. It was designed by: Philippa Mennell (Canada) Chris Ryan (Canada) Niki Dun (Canada) and Philippe Schlesser (Luxembourg).

With the aim of saving lives by improving emergency transit times for communities where motorized transport is unavailable or inappropriate, the Bambulance is a cost-efficient and sustainable trailer and stretcher combination, pared down to essential materials. Composed almost entirely of bamboo, bicycle inner tube, and reused trucking tarp, the Bambulance is designed to be affordable to community members, utilizing local materials and trade skills in its construction.

Inspired by skin-on-frame building techniques, the chassis frame and stretcher are fabricated using simple hand tools and craft processes, making the parts easy to assemble and disassemble for repair and replacement. Bamboo – an underutilized locally available resource in Western Kenya and other African regions - is inexpensive, sustainable, lightweight and strong.

With the initial design taking place under the guidance of the Design For Development Society and in consultation with Kenyan partners and healthcare providers, the Bambulance will first be manufactured and piloted in western Kenya.

Prototypes are currently in production. Pilot project scheduled for early 2010.

The exciting news? The Bambulance is a finalist for the Index:Award Design To Improve Life!

Process Video:

Manufactured/Produced by: Pilot project manufacturing by the Community Transformers and Women’s Equality Empowerment Project, Nairobi, Kenya.

Additional credits:
Project concept, development and implementation: Design for Development Society
Project assistance and student interns: Emily Carr University

07 August 2009

Feeling vs. Knowing

05 August 2009

An honor

I have a huge amount of respect for IDEO's work (as I've mentioned in a few blog posts) and I'm truly honored to have part of my research included in the new version of their Human-Centered Design Toolkit. This resource has offered me some great insights and I highly recommend it to any designer. As a bonus, it is open-source and completely free!

From their site:
Human-Centered Design is a process used for decades to create new solutions for companies and organizations. Human-Centered Design can help you enhance the lives of people. This process has been specially-adapted for organizations like yours that work with people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Human-Centered Design (HCD) will help you hear people's needs in new ways, create innovative solutions to meet these needs, and deliver solutions with financial sustainability in mind.

The Toolkit is divided into four sections:
The Introduction will give an overview of HCD and help you understand how it might be used alongside other methods.

The Hear guide will help your design team prepare for fieldwork and understand how to collect stories that will serve as insight and inspiration. Designing meaningful and innovative solutions that serve your customers begins with gaining deep empathy for their needs, hopes and aspirations for the future. The Hear booklet will equip the team with methodologies and tips for engaging people in their own contexts to delve beneath the surface.

The Field Guide and Aspirations cards are a complement to the Hear guide; these are the tools your team will take with them in order to conduct research.

The Create guide will help your team work together in a workshop format to translate what you heard from people into frameworks, opportunities, solutions, and prototypes. During this phase, you will move from concrete to more abstract thinking in identifying themes and opportunities and back to the concrete with solutions and prototypes.

The Deliver guide will help catapult the top ideas you have created toward implementation. The realization of solution includes rapid revenue and cost modeling, capability assessment, and implementation panning. The activities offered in this phase are meant to complement your organization's existing implementation processes and may prompt adaptations to the way solutions are typically rolled out.

If you want a printed version, they are also available for purchase.

02 August 2009

A Design Case Study: Adaptable, Scalable, Affordable

For Print Only wrote about this stamped version of a business card. The designer was esteemed for his excellent registration. I concur.

But I also love how this speaks to designs being hand-crafted and how this encourages reduced waste while also offering a transferable tool that is accessible to non-designers.

This idea was reflected in what I attempted to allow for a logo design to be usable and beneficial for a cooperative of weavers in Rwanda who had no access to typical print tools. By translating their logo onto a rubber stamp, they are now able to manage a visual identity that will allow them to improve market presence for their weaving business.

As design has a role to play in democracy and good governance, I see this concept as an example of how accessible design tools can encourage dignity and ownership for the next billion.