A Recap of Rwanda
I had anticipated having more time to write about my design work while in Rwanda. Since the fiber optics continue to be placed in the ground, the bandwidth is not yet at the capacity required for effective photo and video uploading. So here's a few tidbits that I wanted to share now that I'm home. These vignettes capture some of my design encounters as I spent time in various parts of the country over the past month.
1. Coffee Processing Tour
During my visit to this plant, I learned about the life cycle of the coffee bean. Notably, beans that are not usable for the highest quality roasting are not discarded. Instead, companies like Nescafé take them on for their coffee purposes.
2. Spaces for Ideas Book
I came across Brian Ling's books before I left and wanted to take some along with me. They arrived in time and I used them to continue my Kinyarwanda language development. During my last trip, I started a book using a Moleskine and it served as an amazing tool to connect with rural communities where language could have been an obstacle to understanding. Since communication designers need to understand language, continuing this exercise has been helpful in my process.
3. Critiquing Design for a National Brand
While working in Rwanda, the Director General of Rwanda's Horticulture Development Authority asked for feedback about logo design for the new horticulture brand being developed for the country.
So I asked the students from UBC and Inatek to vote based on color, logomark, typography and naming. We're not yet sure of the final outcome (and I wish I could show you the options) but this was truly a great experience for me as a designer in another culture!
4. Paper Prototypes
We had the chance to visit a vocational training school where some of the students are learning how to sew. This pattern is made of paper and stitched using a machine. And while it is meant to show the quality of a sleeve and how to create one, I find myself wanting this framed in my home! It was an absolute delight to see and feel this prototype.
5. A Young Man Designs His Home
Meeting Charles was a highlight. While I could tell you of his story of survival as a 9 year old boy during 1994, what I feel is more important is to hear about his perspective on building his home. My favorite bit in this clip? He feels his home is finally finished (while we might imagine alternate improvements or adaptations).
6. Revisiting the Research
Getting to return to Gashora and visit the cooperative of weavers was a definite highlight for me (if you are new to my blog, here's some information about my work there). While we couldn't communicate on all topics, I did ask why no one picked the money image that was included as an aspiration card in my research. They answered that it wasn't a picture of something they understood. Fair enough! I was delighted to see that they were still using the logo stamp and when I purchased a basket from them, they were sure to attach a label onto it for me. Being able to show them how their design ideas were being shared with thousands of people was likely more invigorating to me than them but it was great to be able to let them in on the ways that their work was influencing others.
I'm now back on North American soil but am looking forward to what the next steps will hold with this project. Specifically, I am excited to develop a proposal for a national initiative that will provide affordable micronutrients to children. My focus will continue to be on the packaging and distribution messages). In talking with key leaders and influencers, I'm hopeful that this project will get developed and funded sooner rather than later. Beyond this, I'll be working on workshop and curriculum proposals so that on my next trip I can begin to teach design courses to Rwandan students (and plan to use the Spaces For Ideas books as a design journal!).
The full photo set on Flickr
Videos on YouTube
05 June 2010
A Recap of Rwanda