Water Shoes Can Be Fashionable and These Four Picks Prove It

What it takes to become a ‘social designer’

Social design is the application of design methodologies to solutions for complex human problems. A world battling pollution, education, inequality, and climate change requires each of us to contribute in ways we deem meaningful. There is a need for design professionals and recent design graduates to think beyond traditional (product, building, service) design through an additional lens of purpose.

Design is a tool to create environmental and social value that has a role in social development and is definitely the need of the hour.

But the question is how do designers find these opportunities? Enough design schools and institutions are not taking it upon them to urge students to think about the potential impact that they can have in the world through their work. Secondly, most people, designers included, are of the opinion that solving social problems are for government, non-profits, and CSR institutions, and hence don’t think about this as a career opportunity.

Last but not the least, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that the role of design in the social development sector is still not a mainstream concept in India and most parts of the world and hence, there are no such ‘jobs’ to begin with. Until we change this narrative and create platforms/avenues/opportunities to engage and make available careers for design professionals and recent graduates in the social development space we will not be able to grow the field and make these opportunities readily available to pursue.

 

In this article we highlight design mindsets and toolsets that can be incorporated in social development work and help prepare potential social designers for this field.

1.  Looking for impactful career choices

The first option of course is looking for opportunities to use your design skills to solve environmental and societal problems, be it in government, non-profits, CSR, or design consultancies that consult for any of these. If you decide to start on your own be mindful of the problem that your organisation will solve.

2.  Getting into the right mindset 

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by training your muscles like a social designer.

●     Adaptability: Given the ever-changing social landscape, it is vital that our thinking is both flexible and adaptable to support future growth and change.

●     Learning through failure: The process is iterative with the need to constantly pivot in face of new learnings, insights, and data.

●     Cultivate empathy: Being empathetic is always a given in design. You might have heard it a lot. Empathy means understanding and sharing. Taking some time out to truly listen is important when you design for them. Only when you listen, you are able to understand the problem and the solutions.

●     Embrace ambiguity: There are always times that we start solving a problem and then realise after more in-depth research that the problem that we set out to solve was not the problem at all and end up learning the crux of the problem. Embracing such ambiguous moments ultimately end up leading to ‘Aha!’ moments in design.

3.  Building your toolset

Whether you are already working or looking for your next gig and want to do more with your design skills start by building a social designer toolset.

Design methods:

Design is an iterative and non-linear process that can be divided into four phases – Understanding, Looking, Making, and Testing.

Systems thinking/Mapping:

While designing for one end user, one can fall into the trap of unintended consequences for other people in the system interacting with the user. When you design, you design within a larger system, in order to leverage best experiences for all the players in the system, systems mapping is a useful tool to understand the ecosystem.

Storytelling/Communication:

Often times, explaining the problem is the hardest. Storytelling involves communicating design insights, and creating brands and bite-sized information that are easily understandable and approachable. Storytelling adds value to the user experience and involves both visual storytelling, verbal and written narratives.

Measurement and evaluation:

It’s easy to fall in love with our solutions and ideas. And hence, it’s important to create a feedback loop to ensure that our design solutions are working. Measurement and evaluation is a crucial step in social design to track progress.

4.   Social design learning resources

Last but not the least, change is the only constant so don’t wait to become a continuous learner. Here are some wonderful resources to learn and get inspired by people all around the world using design approaches in social impact.

Podcasts – Podcasts are great for inspiration and get a sneak peek into what others in the field are doing, for example Social Design Insights by the Curry Stone Foundation.

Open innovation challenges – Nothing is better than picking up a challenge with a friend or colleague – Open Innovation Practice by Ideo.

Toolkits – The wheel does not have to be reinvented each time, there are plenty of toolkits to refer

●       Design for Health by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dalberg Design, Sonder, and USAID

●      D.I.Y Toolkit by Nesta, UK

●      NYC Civic Service Design by New York City Mayor’s Office of Innovation

Talking to people in the field – There is nothing better than learning about the impact space and the role that you and your skills can play by speaking to people who are affected the most by the problem as well as those who are in the frontlines trying to solve these problems.

I hope these resources are helpful to open our minds to new ideas and possibilities whether we work for technology companies or non-profits or consultancies. The question I want to leave you with is how might we as designers incorporate strategies to be leaders of advocating for social change wherever we go?

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Sustainable students: How easy is it to be more environmentally-friendly?

Helen and Will

Plastics challenge

The students were challenged to reduce their plastic use by 75%, which they found difficult.

“It’s hard when you’re on a student budget, getting anything not wrapped in plastic is so much more expensive,” Amy explained.

Plastics guru Lucy Siegle gave them a helping hand, swapping their countless shower bottles for sustainable versions of shampoo, toothpaste and soap bars.

She also gave them reusable items like coffee cups and cutlery and told them to change their shopping habits.

Image caption Amy Fitzgerald and Jay Maheswaran were tasked with reducing their use of plastics

But Amy said they found supermarkets a particular problem as “everything was wrapped in plastic”.

“And going to the butcher’s was more expensive than getting pre-packaged stuff,” she added.

At the start of the week, Ms Siegle weighed the plastic in the students’ home, which totalled 2.8lb (1.3kg) – a figure she described as “rather a lot”.

With her advice, the students reduced it to 1.5lb.

Image caption Ms Siegle was not pleased with the house’s reliance on clingfilm, and confiscated their roll

“I’m still really pleased with them,” she said. “Especially as when I saw all the bottles they [initially] had in their bathroom, I nearly gave up.”

Ms Siegle said she thought the group had adopted the mindset shift really quickly, experiencing outrage over everything being plastic.

She urged them to be more militant by unwrapping products at the supermarket checkout and leaving the plastic behind to make the point.

“We need to take a stand,” she said.

Fashion challenge

Marcus Rudd, one of the housemates, had hoped that his shopping habits – buying 10 to 15 T-shirts a year, combined with some designer pieces – were environmentally friendly.

Then he learned that it took 3,000 litres of water on average to make only one T-shirt.

The fashion industry – which makes 100 billion garments each year – is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and the overuse of water.

Image caption Marcus was won over by charity and vintage shops, picking out this striking jacket

It is exacerbated, MPs say, by so-called “fast fashion” – inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers.

Sustainable stylist Alice Wilby taught the students to reuse, repair and recycle, encouraging them to swap fast fashion for second-hand.

She challenged Marcus and his housemate Goby Chan, who regularly buys clothes she does not wear, to make a new outfit from old clothes to model at London Fashion Week.

“We buy so much stuff and half of it sits unworn in the back of the wardrobe,” Ms Wilby said.

“Before we buy anything else it’s great to see what you’ve already got, and fall back in love with your things.”

Image caption Marcus and Goby modelled recycled clothes for a Mother of Pearl show at London Fashion Week

Goby enjoyed the challenge. “I was shocked by what you can do by reusing a garment and making it into something new which is actually really fashionable. I actually love it.”

  • The students modelling recycled clothes
  • Quiz: Are your clothes damaging the environment?
  • The students with a food waste problem

And Ms Wilby said they did well.

“Considering Marcus had never set foot in a second-hand shop before – and thought they were smelly places with clothes you would never want to buy – by the end of the week he was finding pieces he really loved. That was a really great victory.

“These two shop a lot, and over the past month [since the challenge] he has only bought one item.”

Energy challenge

The students took dramatic action to reduce their energy usage – and it worked.

They used much less heating – switching it off at night; wearing jumpers, coats and blankets; and generally keeping the house a little bit cooler.

It made a huge difference to their gas usage – cutting it by a whopping 48%.

They also lowered their electricity usage by 15%. This added up to a 44% carbon saving – around a tonne of carbon in all.

“It was a massive effort – it was freezing in our house,” said Marcus Golby.

Image caption The students were able to drastically cut their home’s energy bills

“[Before] we weren’t communicating when things were going on and going off, so you ended up with the heating on the majority of the time,” explained Amy.

“This month we’re having more of a balance of keeping warm and keeping the heating off when we’re out.”

Dr Rosie Robison, an energy expert from Anglia Ruskin University, said it raised wider questions on whether the focus should be on individuals using less energy or the “wider responsibilities for landlords or homeowners, housebuilders and government for thinking about how our homes can require less fossil fuel in the first place”.

Food challenge

A third of all food made for human consumption is wasted every year – costing the average UK family £700 each year, estimates suggest.

The students were challenged to cut their food waste by 50% and move to the planetary health diet – a plant-based diet with small amounts of meat and fish.

Image caption Helen and Will cooked vegetable bolognese for the house, as part of adopting the planetary health diet for a week

Dr Elliot Woolley, a senior lecturer in sustainable manufacturing at Loughborough University, encouraged them to store their food more carefully to stop it becoming spoiled, plan their meals and prepare the right amount of food for the people eating.

He said that they found the challenge hard, but had reduced their food waste from 8.1lb to 6.8lb, which he described as “a fairly small reduction”.

Image caption The contents of the students’ food waste bin, before the challenge

Dr Woolley added: “One of the things it shows is even when you’re aware of the problem and you’re trying to reduce waste, it’s so ingrained into how we waste and use food that actually we continue with these large amounts.”

Housemate Will Smith said their waste totals were boosted by food bought before the challenge which had started to go off, but admitted: “I don’t think we did too well.”

But he said it had changed his mindset and he would continue trying not to waste food in future.

The Sustainable Students series was produced and directed by Owen Kean and Tom Yeates, with research by Curtis Gallant and Simon O’Leary.

[“source-“bbc”]

How Poppy Lissiman Went From It Sunglasses to Accessories Powerhouse

“I had no idea it would become as big as it is.” The Perth-born accessories supremo behind the Le Skinny sunglasses (perched atop the noses of every Kardashian) still has a few more surprises up her spangly sleeve.

Poppy Lissiman – of the namesake accessories label she founded in 2008 – is not one to walk a well-worn path. The Perth-raised, Sydney-based designer’s trend-bucking accessories, in outrageous shapes and loud colours, slingshot her to cult status at the tender age of 19. Putting her kaleidoscope of embellished bags, clutches, key chains, jewellery and iPhone covers aside, it was her kooky sunglasses, most notably the Le Skinny style, which set social media alight after debuting in May 2017 – (literally) reshaping the eyewear market overnight. She’s since amassed more than 160,000 Instagram followers.

“I had no idea it would become as big as it is”, says Lissiman in earnest. “We certainly had a stream of [clutch] orders coming from overseas prior to this in 2013 and 2014, which was fairly steady until the spike of Le Skinnys last year.”

The angular sunglasses perched atop the noses of every Kardashian, Hadid and high-flying influencer known to Instagram exude a futuristic “Matrix” attitude and come in mandarin, lilac and clear hues. Alongside fellow Australian label Le Specs (whose team she fondly describes as being “such lovely people”), Lissiman had the fortuitous timing of tapping into the ’90s-inflected shock-factor fashion zeitgeist.

Accessory design runs in her blood. Lissiman’s mum Suzi was an accessory buyer and taught her to sew at 10 years old. But while privy to the rag trade growing up, Lissiman had other ideas as a teenager. “The interest in fashion was always there. I remember having these expensive subscriptions to international magazines such as Collezione and saving up all summer for Louis Vuitton hair bobbles – but back then, all I really wanted was to be a doctor.” But when she didn’t get the marks to study medicine, a six-month graphic design course followed, trailed by a two-week fashion course at Curtin University in Perth. But it took a retail role managing a Zomp Shoes store for something to click. “It was the first time I met people like me, other fashion nerds. Put it this way, when Alexander McQueen died we all cried.”

Zomp Shoes also proved seminal in Lissiman’s love and understanding of retail and the customer experience. It was these lessons she later applied to founding Poppy Lissiman Addition (a boutique in Perth’s Claremont) where she stocked her own line of ball gowns beside international labels including Mara Hoffman, L’America and Opening Ceremony. When she couldn’t find the right accessories to complement her zany, whimsical aesthetic, she decided to design her own.

“In the beginning I designed a lot for myself. It was very much a ‘I want this, so I’ll make this’ mentality,” she says. Ironically, it was this very instinct that almost derailed some serious sales.

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“I must admit my first sunglasses collection went terribly, even my friends didn’t buy them,” she says. “I almost didn’t do another one.” Lucky for us, she did. “I had the sample for Le Skinny on my kitchen counter and, having tried them on, they didn’t suit me at all. And so I decided against putting them into production. It wasn’t until a stylist friend, Thom Townsend, came over, saw them lying there, tried them on and told me I just had to make them.” With the help of social media, the Le Skinny heralded a new attitude in accessories and the rest is street-style history.

Flash forward to today and it’s not surprising the home of pop culture, the USA, is her biggest market. But her line of pop-inspired vegan-leather bags perform best on home turf (led by the best-selling South Beach Shell Shoulder Bag, which involves gold shell embellishments moulded from a scallop shell Lissiman found out the front of her parent’s house on South Beach in Perth’s Fremantle).

Lissiman hints she is keen to keep surprising her customers. “I think once you do one thing, you tend to want to swing the other way,” she says.

In full-throttle design mode as she works towards the looming production deadline of glitter wallets and nylon camera bags, which are slated to arrive before Christmas, the designer admits inspiration is as unconventional as her designs. “I get my best ideas when I’m having a massage, not that I have them all the time. Just the other day I was stuck in traffic and the tail lights of the car in front had an interesting shape. I literally just took a photo of their bumper as inspiration for a shape so, yeah, inspiration can come from absolutely anywhere.”

The designer also realised it was difficult to find eyewear made from premium materials at the right price point (her sunglasses retail between $125 and $145). “We wanted a price point that’s open to everyone. We felt we could still be a fashion-y brand without feeling the need to exclude people from the trend just to make an extra buck,” she says.

When asked how she handled the recent upshot in demand, Lissiman credits her “tight ship” team, which includes her parents Suzi and Skip Lissiman and marketing manager, Candy Wood. Lissiman also notes while everyone has their individual roles, the label is run very much like a start-up with many hats being swapped one day to the next. In addition to designing, Lissiman also oversees the label’s social-media accounts, graphic design and some of the customer service, too. And it was only earlier this year the PR was outsourced for the first time.

Thanks to Lissiman’s intimate involvement and her distinctly electric aesthetic, what was once a start-up sunglasses label has brazenly cut through the noise to be embraced by the mainstream. Keeping pace with its international appeal, Lissiman’s sights are set on expanding the label’s global footprint by strengthening relationships with wholesalers including Net-a-Porter and Galeries Lafayette, Kith and Lissiman-approved boutiques dotted across Cannes, Nice and Paris.

Between toying with the idea to return to designing wearable ball gowns, costume jewellery in the works and a range of vegan wallets launching early next year, the future looks fittingly technicolour for Poppy Lissiman. Wherever the path may lead one thing you can expect from her is the unexpected. “Every time I design, I think, ‘Have I seen this yet?’”

[“source=ndtv”]