Section: Barbara Adams
Global Now: Abstract
Headline: Can A Nightclub Designer Really Make Life Better For The Poor?
When I first saw the title of the article, it seemed more like a sneer to me. The author’s initial sarcastic undertone became more understandable with the description of the renowned Brazilian designer’s “unusually minimalist” job for one of the poorest slum regions of the country – “just a few coats of purple paint” on the house facade. Nevertheless, as I read through, it became obvious that the article is not a mockery but the story of a Balsamo-esque designer-innovator, Marcelo Rosenbaum, who rearranged the whole system of life for that particular community in Brazil – “it was not just a color change but also a paradigm shift”. The second project of the designer, described further in the article and dealing with revitalization of craftsmanship traditions, additionally touched on the issues of production, crafts and luxury, attached value, role of community effort and social negotiation. It also brought home the point from Timo’s lecture that design is not about making things but rather creating and rearranging systems, in this case “convincing [locals] that what they had, what they knew, could be woven into economic opportunity.” The question is how long will it take to actually enroot such understanding of design in a popular mindset so that skeptical comments like author’s “I see little physical evidence of his work…” would no longer arise.
Global Issue: Dearth of Opportunity for the Poor
Primary Design Lens: ‘Social Architecting’
Secondary Design Lens: Design for Change