2020What design can do during an era of change
Yuki Uchida
Considering “Design for weaving systems together”

“Weaving new systems together” can begin anywhere beyond existing borders


Yuki Uchida, urban designer and Senior Director of think and do tank Re:public, listed the theme “Design for weaving systems together” upon becoming a Focused Issues Director. These are designs that reconstruct warped systems existing in all fronts of society. With this, the necessary elements and what should be viewed as important become apparent.

Large corporations, small and medium enterprises, and startups. Reform can begin anywhere beyond existing borders

In the background of setting the theme “Design for weaving systems together” is the current situation that existing systems are losing sustainability in all fronts of society. The necessity of reexamining this situation was all the more widely recognized with the coronavirus crisis.

However, undoing existing systems and newly re-weaving is not something that can be done in a day. So, where should we start? I hoped to make this screening process a place in which to search for hints.

Yuki Uchida

In weaving new systems, two main designs become necessary. The first is the design of big systems, frameworks, or institutions and the other is the design that changes an individual’s behavior or demeanor.

The point being that from those of large corporations to those of small and medium enterprises or startups, there were many initiatives chosen for the Best 100 that showed reform can begin anywhere beyond existing borders and it was very encouraging.

Guesthouse “House for Marebito” and circular economy “BRING” are two entries I definitely want to mention. The former obtained a clue for cooperation from the local construction method of rafter roofs and was designed to even include forest design, procuring building materials, and organic connections among “make,” “use,” and “dispose.”

The latter constructed a collection system for used clothes that had been a bottleneck for the apparel industry, using recycling technology as an axis and involving myriad people. Both launched initiatives that surpass existing frameworks and were full of suggestion.

Overcoming an existing framework as such is also found between the government and civic sector. A representative example is seen in Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “COVID-19 The Information Website” and Taiwan’s “Design Movement on Campus plan.”

In the case of Tokyo Metropolitan Government, it was a revolutionary initiative of urgent coordination amid the coronavirus crisis between the government and private sector that do not mix readily and was something that I hope continues in the future. On the other hand, in the case of the design department of Taiwan’s version of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), designers and students cooperated in thinking of schools causing the behavior modification of people, which resulted showing that it can spread to educational systems of schools.

New systems start from cooperation

There are three points I feel are crucial to my theme:

The first is the expansion of an individual’s capability (i.e. ability or talent). In creating a big framework, how each person can work is crucial. As in the cases mentioned above, businesses and governments standing on the side of empowerment upon building an individual’s ownership was a characteristic point. Since long ago, the workings of design have influenced such behavior changes in individuals. In that sense, this is a very worthwhile issue for design.

The second is the formation of energy or resource circulation. Regarding this point, from the excellent initiatives chosen this year, potential could be felt in extending “parties concerned” to natural objects and people of the next generation and then giving careful consideration.

And the third and last point is that more than anything, new systems begin from cooperation. The above cases were all born from relationships among persons concerned that surpassed conventional borders. From a liberal perspective, the individual’s power became crucial, but rather than each person developing something on their own, what was being demanded here was cooperative design.

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