This week, we completed our first Design Slam in class. This was an extremely fast-paced but enlightening experience. The prompts given to each group covered a wide array of topics, and some–such as the topic my group got–were much more broad and philosophical than others.
My group had to come up with an idea of how to change the culture of overbuying, and think of ways to make consumers value what they own so that they’ll keep it. This was extremely challenging for us because the prompt was so open-ended, but that made me realize exactly how difficult it is for sustainable designers–they have to deal with open-ended, ambiguous problems, and attempt to create solutions.
Ultimately, my group’s idea was to create a chain of local boutiques which could help educate communities on how to create their own handmade products, and upcycle their clothes. These boutiques could self-sustain by selling re-designed, upcycled products donated from community members, as well as charging for the classes they offer. The idea was that by engaging members of the community and encouraging them to be more self-sufficient, they would start to place greater value on their possessions, since they’d have played a part in making some of them. We also thought that upcycled clothes could be more valuable to consumers than something they bought from a fast-fashion retailer, for example.
I’m ultimately not sure how well this concept would actually address a problem as vast as consumerism. But I do think that stepping away from huge, faceless businesses, and giving one’s money to local, sustainable enterprises is a step in the right direction. I thoroughly enjoyed the design slam because it challenged us and put us on the spot. It also made me realize how complex sustainable design is, and gave me new respect for those who are attempting to implement change.