Posts filed under ‘Social Design’

{DESIGN AND SOCIAL INNOVATION} Building capabilities in communities by instructing engineering-design skills

Original post at the DILAB:Engineering Design Initiative

ING14_JangoTec-Imagen Blog
Picture: JangoTec session in La Granja 2014

{ENG} Many people refer to  the concept of social innovation as something enacted by a stranger to a community that “needs” help. We’ve explored and reflected over this extensively on our”design for social innovation” website. There are different takes on the concept. In our experience, there are few individuals promoting social innovation that seek to empower communities to build their own solutions or believe in changing or adapting their own fate. Looking to fulfill our interest in community building and empowerment, the DILAB staff, together with the student movements: Convive and La Resistencia, decided to create an educational hands-on program for the democratization of some of the skills that engineer-designers get at the Católica School of Engineering. These include: technology, establishing networks and prototyping. The project is called JANGOTEC: “A Journey from our talents to new capabilities.” This is a space of learning and approach to technology.

Principles that inspire us: “We all have creative potential”, “We’ve done a lot with little”, “We are building a floor to get high” and “We can.”

{ESPAÑOL} Mucha gente habla de innovación y mucho más de la innovación social. Es un tópico bastante explorado (more…)


June 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm Leave a comment

Reflection on Entrepreneurship. Ideas to Reality. The Critical Story Behind Creating Self-Watering Seed-Starters

Blog 13_OrtaPic: Anne Fletcher’s Self-Watering Seed-Starter (Orta)

Studying in the States, I’ve been exposed extensively to entrepreneurship. Most of my good friends with good ideas make them work and turn them into reality. The entrepreneur spirit is in all of those who work hard, and believe that they have something to improve others daily living. This is what happened with my friend Anne Fletcher, instructor at the D.School and consultant. After showing off her entrepreneur skills in Chile’s surfing context, she came back to the States, and here, she is doing it once again. Meet her dream of helping others to keep seedlings alive. But is not that easy! There are pitfalls and a-ha moments! It is always good to hear a real story and reflection, overall from someone who is critical and has a vision behind it. Here is what she tells us about her quest:

-. I find hope in planting seeds .-
Terracotta self-watering seed-starters will keep your seedlings alive even if you ignore them a little! Before I started making terracotta seed-starters in my garage, I killed a lot of seedlings.  In the delicate seedling phase, plants need gentle watering every single day, twice a day if it’s hot outside. With long hours and work travel, sometimes it just wasn’t possible for me to keep those baby plants alive. About a year ago I had an idea for a new way to solve this problem.  I invented a terracotta self watering seed-starter with a reservoir for water, and porous walls that keeps seedlings happy for about a week between waterings. After debuting my invention last September, I started selling out all the production runs I could make in my garage.  I found some local artisans here in California to help me meet the growing demand.

Now I’m working on a new, bigger model.  The 12-pack allows you to grow bigger seedlings, and more of them.  Big is great for the plants, but it’s too much for me to handle in the garage.  I’m doing a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to make the 12-pack a reality by paying for professional mold-making, and working with manufacturing partners in California. This project partly comes from a desire to keep my plants alive in a pretty package on the windowsill – there’s no denying that.  But there’s another deeper reason.

As a designer, I struggle all the time with the visions of apocalyptic futures that experts say are coming if we don’t change our consumption habits.  When I ponder the designer’s role in all this (as creator of objects people desire, and sometimes as creators of the desire itself), I feel a mental paralysis.  It’s extremely difficult to balance both being aware of what we humans are doing to ourselves, and yet stay positive enough to have the energy to make positive changes.  In a world sharply divided between doom-and-gloom apocalysm and head-in-the-sand optimism, we designers need a new way forward.  I can’t ignore the reality of our current situation, yet I also can’t create positive change from a place of fear and pessimism. -. I find hope in planting seeds .- (more…)

June 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Chilenos en Papel: Giving Back to People in a Visual Way

Blog 13_Chilenos en papelPIC: Alejandro Blanco

Not long ago DFSI showcased the work of Saul Flores in his visual work “Footprints: the Walk of Immigrants”. This time, I came across a great project from photographer Alejandro Blanco and psychologist Catalina Correa : “Chilenos en Papel“. This ambitious visual project seeks to recover the cultural patrimony related with the social capital of Chileans and their traditions. One of the most interesting things is their idea of “giving back” to the community. This is not that usual for our tradition in Anthropology, but with the technological advances in photography, processes have become more affordable and democratic…and this project embraces that. Here is what they write:

Alejandro Blanco, photographer
Catalina Correa, psychologist
IDEAME Fundraising URL
We all love watching pictures that bring us memories of important moments or people that have been meaningful in our lives. But people living in remote or (more…)

March 14, 2013 at 2:10 am Leave a comment

Footprints: Visual Anthropology and Design meet in the work of Saul Flores

Image: Saul Flores
I recently came across Saul Flores as we are part of  NC State University, in the States. His photographic work [more like visual anthro to me] on “The Walk of the Immigrants” has already been publicized by various places such as TED[x]  , NPR and others. But which is the real reason I wanted to mention this project in this humble blog? Because we love to showcase projects that are real an this one is not meaning to do more than provide a window for a personal journey on immigration [and the big walk his own family did]. It’s not a needless fancy project by a huge NGO and is not claiming a “Saving the World” motto, but it is more related to what we have talked on the blog on collaboration and multivocality in the realm of design and anthropology. Here is what Saul writes…

Saul Flores , photographer [BA in Design and Business, NCSU]
Kickstarter Fundraising URL

“Over the past few years I have dedicated most of my time and energy into a project called the Walk of the Immigrants. The project itself started when I was a Junior at North Carolina State University trying to find a clearer path towards cultural understanding between our communities. As tension rose for Latin America, and for my family, I felt that there was a middle path that needed to be explored to best remind people of the commonalities that we have as one larger community. The solution that I found were photographs.
Press the image to watch Saul Flores’ Video on Kickstarter

As a result, I began an image-based narrative that (more…)

October 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm 1 comment

Amalia, working with local artisans to achieve greatness

Pic: Eggpicnic Design [Paolo Remedy, photographer]

Camila de Gregorio [Chile] and Chris Macaluso [Australia] entrepreneurs and designers from the successful  Eggpicnic Design [firm that sells their creations all around the world] tell us about their new project on working hand in hand with local artisans [Mario Rojas and Francisco Palma] from the evolving rural location of  ChimbarongoChile .

Currently, in the culture in which we find ourselves, many objects have neither symbolic or cultural attributes. However, objects produced in the framework of traditional techniques and materials, are able to establish a connection between who produces the object and the user, developing a link between the material and the technique used for its creation, thus reactivating, specific aspects of culture.
Pic: Eggpicnic Design [Paolo Remedy, photographer]

Amalia by  Eggpicnic is a project that addresses a number of traditional (more…)

June 25, 2012 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

Give and take, a service designed social economy

Pic: ccxtina on Flickr

Christina Worsing is more than a social activist. A designer by formation, which is how I happen to know her, Christina has pulled forward this amazing initiative that is called “Give and Take”. Willing to revert object’s planned obsolescence [just a bad design strategy], they provide the service connection to recirculate “pre-loved” resources by setting the stage for “Ethical Economies” to happen. Based on the idea of formalizing “cambalaches” [how this is called in Chile] or swaps… Her initiative has created a whole rethinking of the service deployment that a social re distributed economy like this would have. This service strategy has been defined using the design process in creating touch points, diagramming system’s flow and conducting front-end research to understand all the individuals involved.
Pic: ccxtina on Flickr

So what is Give and Take?
“Give-and-Take is a community-based project that develops services, activities and events to circulate pre-loved clothing throughout the local area. Along the way we share ideas and thoughts on how to re-use, repurpose and rethink (more…)

February 23, 2012 at 4:59 am Leave a comment

Designing with Handcrafters in Chile, a social commitment

Pic: Eggpicnic Design

Camila de Gregorio, Chilean designer from the successful  Eggpicnic Design [firm that sells their creations all around the world] tells us about her social commitment standpoint towards working hand in hand with artisans in the small rural location of Rari, Chile. The post is in English and Spanish.

Ser diseñador conlleva un gran compromiso social. Siendo capaces de integrar a los individuos a la modernidad por medio de su obra, no corrompemos los códigos que les son propios. Trabajamos con Marcela Sepúlveda, una artesana experta en crin y oriunda de Rari, un pueblo ubicado al sur de la capital chilena, al pie de la precordillera. Pic: Eggpicnic Design [Andrew Mercer]
Su trabajo (more…)

January 10, 2012 at 5:45 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!
Creative Commons License
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

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