Posts filed under ‘product design’

Cycling Social Innovation Part 3: Zanzibar

Picture 1: Water delivery [CM]
Continuing with the series of posts about equality fostered by bicycles [Check out the part 1 post: Cycling in Morocco and Part 2: Cycling in Cuba, I wanted to  add some other ethno-photographs regarding a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” that are, in this case, portraying the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Check out the rationale for this series in the previous posts. [All pictures taken by CM ]

Baskets made from palm trees serve to carry and exhibit groceries (more…)


August 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Cycling Social Innovation Part 2: Cuba

Continuing with the series of posts about equality fostered by bicycles [Check out the part 1 post: Cycling in Morocco], I wanted to  add some other ethno-photographs regarding a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” that are, in this case, portraying Cubans [Taken on a “road trip” from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and the Keys]. And Cuba affords a not very common setting. Not only for it’s political standing, but because there are constraints that oblige people to make what they can form the things they have available on the island. A huge contrast with the excessive use planned obsolescence of industrial designs present in countries like the States, France or Spain. Nonetheless, the “commuting” context in Cuba is not easy. Roads are full of holes, individuals wait for hours for any transportation for getting from one place to another which can make a day-to-day journey harder than what we are used to. Yet, innovation driven by scarcity does happen in this context… and you can even get a hole in your tire fixed with a “condom” [no kidding], which thanks to the State birth control policies, are cheaper to get than a rubber repair kit for your bike. In the end it’s still a polymer no? Still, patterns arise when comparing the cycling behaviors of Cubans, Chileans, West Africans and even in the States…. They will be visible as other posts are revealed. [All pictures taken by CM ]

Commuting is not really easy….

Over-use of the bike [a bicycle built for two?]


August 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm 1 comment

Portioning to make products affordable for the BOP

Picture: Kiosk in Cape Coast Ghana [CM]

Affordability of consumer products is not just an issue of “marketeability”, but of understanding that everyone has the right to be considered a “valuable consumer”, and that everyone should have access to them. It was in the frame of a joint venture with Unilever Chile and our Chilean design Studio: Design for Social Innovation, that this topic was raised by one of our students. It has also been a topic commented by some economists such as the deceased CK Prahalad.

Some consumers, such as manual laborers [in the case of South America and Africa] might not have “the cash” to access to large quantities of a certain product. In simple words, what I mean [for what I’ve observed and what I’ve taken from self-performed interviews] is that: some individuals get paid for a week of work [sometimes they do what in Chile we would call “pololos”, that being short-time period of a certain job] and usually that money, is spent weekly. Generally, there is no big salary at the end of the month [which is normally believed to be the standard], or there are not sufficient funds to get the “whole product” [the complete package] once a month. So the consuming behavior is driven by the needs derived of using weekly or daily the money in small quantities for immediate consumption. Picture: Kiosk in Cape Coast Ghana 2010 [CM]

The other issue is, generally, supermarkets are usually not located near to the Bottom of the Pyramid [BOP] populations. So if they would want to get something, they have to spent money in Public Transportation [going and returning]. This could be a critical expense when you are thinking about low-weekly salaries.

For what we’ve seen, in countries like Chile, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, Mali, Ghana, Brukina Faso, Kenya and others, (more…)

August 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

Global Mamas, re-using for change [Ghana]

Photo: Mali, frontier with Burkina Faso [CMiranda] Pencil Case made of re-used water sachets [CM]
Not long ago, one of the professors at NC State, working in the Ghana abroad program had mentioned the existence of the organization: “Global Mamas”. I was pretty pleased, as I arrived in Accra, to verify the great work they are doing. One of the product lines that caught my attention were the recycled ones categorized under “trashy bags”. There is even a particular NGO just dedicated to this area. These women are not just manufacturing products with reused materials [remember there is a big difference between recycle and re-use. Re-using is even better than recycling as it requires no energy to turn mater into another form], but creating a whole selling experience out of it [not to speak about the benefits of small and successful entrepreneurship].

They reuse, mainly, plastic bags coming from the consumption of the lovely Fan Milk products [ice cream packaged in a cheap Polypropylene bag] and purified water sachets.Photo: Trash in drains, Cape Coast, Ghana [CMiranda]

Both of this Bottom of the Pyramid consuming products just cost a few cents [literally, water sachets cost less than 10]. Why getting a 1 dollar water bottle if (more…)

August 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

There is potential in using Design and “making physical models” in education

Photos: Mauritania, Oasis Legueila, (CMiranda)

The concept of “Learning with design” is more popular than what normally people think. Nonetheless, this concept can be linked to the Understanding by Design methodology (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). This methodology is really complex, and it involves themes and stances on curriculum planning,  progress monitoring and knowledge assessment.

Considering that nobody reads a blog when it is too long, it seems interesting to us to share some “natural and innate” examples of kids and sophisticated “model making” found in Mauritania (Legueila is an oasis located in the region of “Atar” in Mauritania. There, families come to make their living out of the collection and selling of “dates“) and in Saint Louis, Senegal. These examples show how kids build and create “models” innately. In these cases, in the form of toys. Shortsighted, we can consider these toys as the “new toys for the ones that cannot access to them”. On the other hand, we can look at these toys with the potential to be models.

Models, as we’ve pointed before in the blog, are a mean to embody knowledge. They can help make complexity more manageable. These models, as these examples show, do not need to be sophisticated (as the candy models that some schools in the States use to teach biology in schools). They can work with anything you have at hand: a can, two (more…)

June 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability- Stanford 2010

Pablo Fernandez (Chilean, MA Stanford) Reports:
Picture: Pablo Fernandez
Stanford is widely known because of Google, Sun Microsystems and other technologies breakthrough (like the new number one app for Ipad; Pulse). Amazing things who have made their inventors rich (and also Stanford; all the students have to sign an agreement where they agree to share part of their revenues).
However, there are another kind of breaktrough technologies, who are not focused on Ipad´s fan, Internet’s leaders or even wealthy and rich people (more…)

June 14, 2010 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

Look to local solutions – Marrakech

Picture 1: store in Marrakech

Around three days ago, walking through the streets of the Medina (old city) in Marrakech (Morocco), we found these interesting artifacts designed and sold locally. One of the remarkable things about these objects, is that they are meant to be sold within the community (so it is a business which profit stays in the community itself).

The products are competitive enough (in price and functionality) compared to other plastic containers sold in local markets. We might consider this not only as a design that is born from a first hand observation of a particular local opportunity, but also of a principle of using a costless material (which’s durability, availability and impermiability) to redefine a second type of product. We might want to benefit from local knowledge before intending to bring soltutions being an outsider.

Hints from this post
01. Local design/ Local opportunity: Observe what local communities do, they might have THE RIGHT answers
02. Observe local markets’ behavior
03.Do not confuse re-use (this case) and recycle

May 23, 2010 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
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Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at