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Community Museum Project (Hong Kong)

Street as Museum

a tour series of living museums. The visitors were guided by experienced locals through tours of different themes. Accompanied by cultural experts, they heard stories and visited places normally not available to non-locals.

Museum is not necessarily a white cube illuminated by solemn lighting, guarded by security and cordons. The stories behind a museum object can perhaps fill up more than a caption card. The best museum is on the street, where real local people can proudly tell us stories about their livelihood.

Design by Users

In Search of Indigenous Creativity & Wisdom from Designing Tools
People often invent or customize tools to better fit their work or living. These objects may sometimes be crude and temporary, incomprehensive to outsiders and completely overlooked by mainstream design, yet by their very nature they serve very precise purposes. The project examines indigenous creativity in the work and living environments and reveals the stories behind these inventions and the relationship between users and their tools.

In Search of Marginalized Wisdom

…to discover and record the local knowledge and the skill tradition in Sham Shui Po. Community Museum Project invited designers and design students to research and document the eight units of craftspersons from Sham Shui Po. The research focused on the production process, survival strategies and community relations. The results were then visualized as display panels in the exhibition. What we attempt to study is the characteristics of their business operation, and how they cope with the limited space and resources. We believe that through the systematic documentation and explicit visualization of such knowledge, we can perhaps reaffirm these values. They may even become an inspiration for emerging designers and creative industries. cart-wheels

What stories does your fridge tell?

What is the role of “processed food” in our food consumption pattern? How do different categories, such as dried food, frozen meat, snacks, sauces, etc. mean differently to families of different constituent? And how the quantity and quality of each category of food inside them tell about a family’s livelihood? Who is controlling the contents of the family’s fridge? Etc. …a seemingly common and “essential” household appliance, does not only carry edibles and material items, but memories, wishes, anxieties and livelihood expectations.

Public Phenomena

Tokyo Fixes & DIY gardening inspiration for small-space gardening

Gentle Collaboration in Urban Design: The Non-Intentional Landscape of Tokyo

Low Cost Design

Technological Disobedience

Ernesto Oroza Architecture of necessity, Technological Disobedience, Moral Modulor, Moire house, Objects of Necessity, Generic objects, Potential house… 'Technological Disobedience' by Ernesto Oroza (Cuba's DIY Inventions from 30 Years of Isolation)

Home-Made Russia & Europe

Thoughtless Acts?

Urban Bricolage


urban-rural relations to informal greenspace. Christoph Rupprecht

Projects in Mexico

Mexico Roadside Food Reviews

Mexico City: the informal economy of street food and vendors To begin with, one of the aspects of street food consumption that first interested me was the implication of this form of consumption for the re/production of various forms of sociality and solidarity. Some scholars, among them Sidney Mintz and Pierre Bourdieu, have suggested that the increased consumption of food outside of the home could lead to a breakdown of class consciousness and social identity that is formed through commensality and ritualized mealtimes. Indeed, eating outside of the home can be seen as a way in which bonds of kinship are subsumed by market pressures. But eating on the street, it seems to me, may engender different forms of solidarity (between workers who might otherwise be isolated from each other in office environments, or between vendors and neighbors, or between networks of vendors, and so forth), and so one of the things that I have set out to look at is who interacts and how they interact when eating on the street. As the elections loomed large, I noticed people everywhere talking about politics hayden-mexico-jicaletas(something, my Mexican friends tell me, would not have been the case twenty or even ten years ago, as political repression under the PRI’s leadership was more feared). People who did not know each other would perch on stools on the sidewalk, and while waiting for their quesadillas or gorditas, talked about politics, sharing the latest news or gossip related to a given candidate, sharing their thoughts and apprehensions. While much has been made of the role of social media in helping to organize new social movements (in Egypt, Wall Street, and beyond), the circulation of information among relative strangers and acquaintances in interactions such as those which I have observed in street stalls might also be politically powerful (a different take on the Habermasian public sphere, perhaps?).

But people do not only bring politics to street food stalls; the vendors themselves bring food to spaces of political action. I have been to four political rallies since I arrived, all of which have taken place on the streets between el Ángel de la independencía and el Zócalo in Mexico City’s downtown. At each rally, as hundreds of thousands of people flowed down the streets, carryingbanners and chanting (my favorite: ¡el que no brinca es Peña!), hundreds of vendors also made up part of the tapestry of dissent, selling their foods along the way. One could find anything from roasted corn on the cob to jicaletas (jicama wedges served on a stick like a popsicle and coated in flavored powders) to tacos (7 for 10 pesos!) to fresh squeezed juices. As I spoke with assorted vendors, it became clear that while some of them were there explicitly as part of the political action as supporters as well as vendors, others were there to make some money off of the rally. Even those vendors who were not supporters of the #yosoy132 movement or AMLO, however, were part of the masses, were contributing to the creation of a politicized public space, which in Mexico entails food.

The engagement of street vendors in local and national politics obviously extends beyond their presence as sellers-of-foods in particular events or situations. Despite belonging to the informal economy and not having legal recognition from the state, street vendors often belong to unions, which have their own leadership structures and affiliate with different political parties in clientelistic relationships. Such patron-client relationships are a legacy of the seven decades of PRI-rule, and have been implicated in the alleged voter fraud of these latest elections, since often it is in the workplace that people are told for whom to vote and are held accountable for doing so. To what extent this happens in the informal economy and vendors’ unions is something I need to explore further. Clearly the intersection between politics, consumption, and sociality in the space of street food is complex, but an analysis of the relations and interactions enable through these networks is necessary, I think, to understand the political, in addition to nutritional, implications of eating on the street. More on interactions and networks to come…


Design by Use

Design, When Everybody Designs

Ezio Manzini, An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation
In a changing world everyone designs: each individual person and each collective subject, from enterprises to institutions, from communities to cities and regions, must define and enhance a life project. Sometimes these projects generate unprecedented solutions; sometimes they converge on common goals and realize larger transformations. As Ezio Manzini describes in this book, we are witnessing a wave of social innovations as these changes unfold – an expansive open co-design process in which new solutions are suggested and new meanings are created.

Manzini distinguishes between diffuse design (performed by everybody) and expert design (performed by those who have been trained as designers) and describes how they interact. He maps what design experts can do to trigger and support meaningful social changes, focusing on emerging forms of collaboration. These range from community-supported agriculture in China to digital platforms for medical care in Canada; from interactive storytelling in India to collaborative housing in Milan. These cases illustrate how expert designers can support these collaborations – making their existence more probable, their practice easier, their diffusion and their convergence in larger projects more effective. Manzini draws the first comprehensive picture of design for social innovation: the most dynamic field of action for both expert and nonexpert designers in the coming decades. Making as Caring Most importantly, Jon is a maker because, over the years he has developed an uninhibited curiosity for found materials and their potential applications to either fix things or build new things in the future. This deep knowledge of materials embodied within the stuff we use in our daily lives, as well as the numerous tools and techniques of making, is critical to understand the impact the things we use have on our environments. It also generates a pattern of lateral and anticipatory thinking, as he constantly scours the environment looking for materials and tools, anticipating their potential (re)use in an entirely different context. It’s an attitude of mending, helping, and, most importantly, caring, that defies mainstream consumerism.

This sort of an attitude is neither new nor unheard of. There are hundreds of thousands of people who would not call themselves makers but would quite easily fit this bill of a ‘maker’. The recently visible projects by such makers include the brilliant Fixperts and Engineering at Home amongst others. These projects and activities are often packaged as ‘fixing’, ‘jugaad, or ‘up-cycling’, and remain on the periphery of the dominant maker-culture discourse. These approaches are often associated with resource stripped individuals and communities (especially Jugaad in India), or some sort of hippie do-gooders. No, they are not just fixing, not just doing some little bodging in the corner, they are mainstream makers. In fact, I would argue that they are more than makers, they are actually care-givers, who steadfastly push back against the dominant philosophy of planned obsolescence.

Maker-carers who may not use 3D printers to make shoes or dresses, but instead embody making as a way of life. They are quietly shaping the ethos and values of a 21st century maker — adaptive, crafty, anticipatory makers who care deeply about the people and environment around them. And this is the sort of making-as-caring that we need much more of. As we head towards increasingly precarious political, social and environmental crisis, we will all need to nurture the capacity to think through materials and the systems that these materials manifest within, so we can find the means to restore, revive, resurrect, rewire, and reimagine the physical world of consumption we are drowning in. Obviously this would mean we will buy less things, but it also means that we will know what we buy and mostly importantly have the skills to adapt and re-appropriate materials and tools for uncertain conditions.

resources_related_projects.txt · Last modified: 2017/01/31 09:53 by xin