A highway everyone passes through without noticing, and a byway that shows us a new path
By taking part as a director of Focused Issues in this year’s Good Design Award, I had the opportunity once again to consider what sort of future can designs bring to us. This includes the question of how we should design the next era.
The main focus of this question is “speed.” While there is no time to lose in current issues such as environmental issues, the most important things for designs are to be clearly effective against the problems and to focus on goal achievement itself.
Since the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) were approved to uphold 17 goals of solving issues such as poverty, starvation, health, education and clean energy by 2030, companies, NPOs and individuals are conducting various activities to achieve a sustainable society. The variety of such activities have pointed many ways to these goals. However, the fact that there are only 10 years left until 2030 confronts us with an urgent reality.
The reality is urging us to find a concrete solution. In this year’s Good Design Award, I could see concrete designs that can respond to this reality.
This time, I have upheld the theme as “Designs serving as a guidepost pointing the way to a new society,” and have been thinking About designs that can be an arrowhead that change the behavior and thought of people. In the interim report, I mentioned that there are two types of designs. One is a highway-type design (that has already been established and used by many people), and the other is a byway-type design (that is to seek a new method). In this final message, I would like to marshal this viewpoint, then talk About it again.
The former highway type could be described as having a similar characteristic to a kind of platform and being easy to participate in. It is designed to be a road that many people can pass thorough and go fast along.
The most prominent example is “BRING.” It is a great attempt that aims for a circular economy based on the idea of making clothes from clothes by involving consumers and distribution. But what we should take notice of the most is that it considers the recycling of clothes as a sales promotion, instead of a CSR (corporate social responsibility) related activity. This is a key factor that provided a breakthrough for this service.
In this system, consumers who participate in the collection of used clothes receive a payment in the form of cash vouchers. This system is excellently designed as it involves unconcerned people by providing a concrete return to them, not just relying on the good cause of recycling. I sensed their intention to make people take action right now.
The latter byway type can be represented by “Solar Town Fuchu.” Looking at a photo of it, you may think this group of houses was praised for being eco-friendly by utilizing solar energy. However, this is not the point. There was a surprising proposal for community making.
What impressed many judges and made them say “This is different!” was its original sharing system called “garden path.” The “garden path” is a common area similar to an inner garden or footpath, founded by all 16 households by providing a part of their easement.
This may be familiar to people who live in an apartment building. For example, sometimes there is a troublesome complaint like “Why do I have to pay for the repair of the elevator even though I live on the first floor and never use it?.” Such a complaint may be formed because residents think some parts of the common area within the building have nothing to do with them.
On the other hand, with the “garden path” system, which is managed by collecting contributions from residents, each resident tends to think “I can use this because I own it.” The strong awareness of common ownership enhances participation by residents and activates the community.
This may look like a platform, but it is based on a longer and slower viewpoint, without encouraging immediate action. A path is made where people pass through. Considering this, I classified this entry as “byway-type.”
What we need is tolerance and permission to jump on an existing platform.
Other than that, as can be seen in “SHARP bitescan,” which is designing the act of “chewing,” and “Yamasen Japanese Restaurant,” which was built by adapting Ugandan materials and constructing methods, all the designs that I recognized as a guidepost can be classified as either of “highway-type” or “byway-type.” But “Antarctica Mobile Station Unit as a Research platform” combines the good features of both types.
Misawa Homes, which has proven results in the area of construction in the polar regions, is involved in the design of the research base in Antarctica. Requirements for constructions in an extremely cold polar region are construction techniques that research team members with no expertise can handle, and easy establishment and maintenance of the living environment. In order to meet these requirements, the construction technique to assemble standardized units is designed with operations and lifestyle in outer space in mind. However, a livelihood is not just About a living environment.
Misawa Homes is regularly scouting for corporations, universities and research institutions who are willing to participate in this project, taking the experiment and research in Antarctica for a co-creation platform. Life in outer space has possibilities for all types of designs to get involved in. In that sense, it deserves to be called a platform for everyone. The exciting story setting like a sci-fi movie was very interesting for me. Adding such a sense of excitement to a design is important for involving many people.
The world of design is highly competitive. Everyone wants to make a platform before anyone else, and to make a unified standard to come out ahead of the others. We designers have been working under such competition,
but the trend has already shifted, and platforms are now made by utilizing existing items, instead of newly creating. While I worked as a creative director of a local government in the past, I saw many cases where councils and local governments had made reliable results by following past successful practices.
Local governments do not stick to originality. Therefore, they can utilize an existing platform, or follow an existing structure and system, and make it function as infrastructure. If this is the best way to produce a social impact in the short term, then it should not be limited to public bodies.
Creators often persist in turning 0 into 1, but I think now is the time to be tolerant and permissive to jumping on an existing idea or platform.
It is wonderful to design big “highways” which can be used by many people and a lot of “byways.” Likewise, being courageous to walk on an already completed platform will be crucially important from here on.
- Circular Economy [BRING]BRING is a Direct to Consumer business platform based on a circular economy. It sells clothes made of recycled polyester as well as it collects abandoned garments from consumers to produce the raw material. BRING covers a broad rage of industries such as raw material production, spinning, retail and recycling. It provides raw materials, yarns, textiles and its business platform to partners.
- Focused Issue Meeting 「BRING」
- Residential Block [Solar Town Fuchu]The solar town Fuchu is made up of 16 residential houses.Realizing environmental-friendly housing with long life and maximum use of natural energy were the must, but also we wanted residents to enjoy nature to maximum.Houses were arranged along sides of a common space called a garden path which were filled with abundant greeneries, and as a result, the place became the gathering spot to all.
- Encouraging Behavior Change by Chewing Measurement [SHARP bitescan]Bitescan is a over-ear mastication meter that measure chewing times, rate and posture, etc. In modern life, people tend to chew less. The aim of this project is to help build better chewing habits by measuring and making awareness of chewing, with bitescan app and events support.
- commercial facility [Yamasen Japanese Restaurant]The Japanese restaurant and small shops were built with abundant open-air space which enhances local climate, materials and techniques in Uganda, eastern Africa. Under a big thatched roof, entrepreneurs are gathering to share ideas and activities which also attracts local people.
- Space Development Technology Research Method [Antarctica Mobile Station Unit as Research platform]The Antarctica Mobile Station Unit is a collaborative research platform shared by Misawa Homes, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Japan's National Institute of Polar Research. The Antarctic offers a challenging environment in which to investigate new housing designs, technologies and systems, and to develop more sustainable homes as well as a crewed space exploration base.