Last week I gave a presentation to approximately 50 designers, manufacturers and other business people in Latvia via the web. It was part of a workshop run by the British Council but planned and facilitated by Guy and Helena from Sprout design, Jonathan Chapman and myself. It was great to be able to connect and share experiences with people in Latvia from the comfort of my house in Cardiff. The main aim of my presentation was to demystiy some of the complex issues of sustainabity and design while highlighting lessons from some designers and companies in Wales that have already gone on the same journey I expect these companies in Latvia will be going on now.
It was an extra special honour to present to Latvian industry because my Msc thesis addressed the issues of design for sustainability in transition economies with a particular interest in Baltic states. I was fascinated by the shifting cultural context in post communist countries and how this would impact on design and sustainable development. It was great to see these same issues being discussed by companies in Latvia now. In fact, the event was way oversubscribed with more than 100 companies wanting to join.
I chaired a workshop on sustainability for the British Council today in London. The audience was 23 Creative Entrepreneurs from 19 different countries (Ghana, Nigeria, India, Latvia, Poland, Taiwan, Turkey etc.). These entrepreneurs were from various disciplines e.g. fashion, product, architecture and advertising.
I was lucky to have three good speakers Guy Robinson from Sprout, Tamsin Lejeune from the Ethical Fashion Forum and Chris Sherwin from Dragon Rouge (formerly Forum for the Future).
It was inspiring to be in a group of driven creative people running their own labels, businesses and trying to learn and improve how they do it. There were too many inspirational conversations to reflect on them all straight away but some of my take home points were’
- The commercial context is changing
- Big business is accelerating that change
- The cultural context is changing and the creative hubs of the future are not in Europe or the US
- Context is everything
- Creating connections is essential
- There is a need to balance commercial with self-directed sustainability projects
- Sustainability is a journey
Let’s see what comes next.
I attended the 5th Nordes Design Research conference last week at Aalto university in Helsinki . The theme for this years conference was “Making Design Matter!”. This was a very interesting conference and provided me with some insight into the quality and direction of design research across Nordic countries.
I gave a presentation titled “Integrating sustainability in a regional design sector” based on a short exploratory paper I wrote a number of months ago. The paper provided some analysis and insight on experiences of setting up E:DN. The audience for the paper was predominantly policy makers and was informed by my wider PhD research.