PhD content in brief

Internationalization of design research and education centers.
Promotion of international design networks
Valentina Auricchio

Today, small enterprises and artisans are facing a difficult moment in which they are not able to understand how to survive in a evermore competitive and global market. They no longer have contact with final users, which often live in other territories and belong to different cultures, and do not have the tools to connect and innovate at an international level.
Since the early 70’s, designers around the world have been working in this arena with the aim to help artisans reach new markets and learn how to develop autonomous innovative processes. Through transfer of knowledge and support in creating networks, designers have shown unique capabilities that can support internationalization processes of territories worldwide by:
_identifying new markets and interpreting cultures (EXPORT);
_identifying new technologies (CO-PRODUCTION);
_identifying new cultural context (CO-DESIGN).

In this scenario, design research and education institutions have had a fundamental role in engaging new research paths and developing education programs in the fields of design management and strategic design in order to support international competitiveness. The strive for internationalization has pushed design institutions to enlarge their networks, connect with territories and give students and staff the opportunity to widen their view. By doing so, they have become strategic entities for the internationalization of their countries.
In the knowledge based society, education and research institutions have become important actors in supporting the international competitiveness of their territories by developing innovative researches and forming new professional profiles.
Therefore, design research and education institutions have become gateways for companies interested in connecting and competing internationally.

The main aim of the research is to identify projects in which design institutions have supported the internationalization of productive territories in order to stimulate an international debate in this area.
The area of reference of the research is Social Design and it historically refers to those projects in which designers have had an important role in connecting the periphery with the center. Victor Papanek, Gui Bonsiepe and Victor Margolin have been the main design theorist in this area.
The research developed has aimed to collect projects that have been carried out in the past ten years in this field. Projects that have been developed by design centers, institutions, individual designers that demonstrate that design can have a strategic role in social and economical development. These projects are mainly lead by the desire to help artisans and small producers to reach new markets and to build connections with partners worldwide.
The research has been lead through on field research and interviews of actors involved in the debate and in the projects detected. The projects collected have been saved in an “online platform” (blog of the research which has been the a first interface with the research community.
Fifteen projects selected out of the many projects collected in the blog have been briefly explained through graphs and maps which give a general understanding of the state of the art in this field.

The analysis of the project has been done at different levels:
_geographical map of territories and actors involved;
_chronological map of the projects;
_role of the design actors in the projects;
_results respect to the internationalization of the territories involved;
_aims and objectives of the projects;
_project phases.

The final analysis of the projects aims to give a future view on the trajectories taken by the actors involved, the lessons learnt and the suggestions on how to take forward a debate in this field in order to develop new research and form professionals.
Today, there is a large amount of design centers, institutions and professionals who believe that design can have a strategic role in helping artisans and small companies in building global value chains. This belief has been demonstrated through real projects that show that designers are capable, not only in developing new products and services, but also in building global value chains that allow artisans to access new markets. Through these projects, designers transfer innovation capabilities to communities, enabling them to connect with partners worldwide.
However, this field is still not recognized as a research field in design and there are very few courses which aim to form professionals capable to replicate successful experiences in other contexts. This is also due to the fact that, up to today, design tools applied have not yet been codified.
Although the methods and tools identified in the projects still require confrontation and verification in other contexts, the catalogue of projects collected throughout the research is the first of its kind and the hope is for it to be a starting point for an international debate on design methods and tools applicable in this research area.


The following list of posts are a collection of interesting articles which have been collected during the PhD research. Some of them are Design Centers, others are projects, others are links to websites.
Of these posts, 15 case studies have been picked out to be analysed in depth.


Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


nanimarquina collaborates with Care & Fair and guarantees that no child labour is employed in the production of its rugs.Care & Fair is an organisation that was created in 1995 with the objective of eradicating child labour in the weaving of rugs in countries such as India, Pakistan and Nepal. Its philosophy is based on the belief that this objective is reachable with the adequate help, basically involving two important areas: education and health.
A brand has many faces and each product always tries to give a synthesis of all of them: of who thinks up the product, of who makes it, who looks after it and all those who enjoy it. When This, together with the ongoing and consistent work of research and creation, is what makes a personal project a snapshot of its time. Our immediate context speaks to us of East and West, of a return to our roots, of new uses and concepts and, above all, it speaks to us of the commitment to integrate new voices into our reality. All these voices tell us about a world that begins and ends with sensations.

Recycled Saris - Altromercato

Collaboration project between Sasha (India) and Altromercato (Italy) promoting new products produced in India with recycled saris for the Italian market.


In the Sana Fair in Bologna there is a space designed by Lucy Salamanca (Salamanca Design & Co.) in which a selection of International Design Collaborations is shown. This exhibition is open from 11th to 14th of September 2008 in Bologna Fair (Italy).
During the Fair their was also a confrontation on the theme of SOCIAL DESIGN and the implications of design projects.

Friday, 12 September 2008


STRAAT - changing office

StraaT office was moved from Augusta street in Sao Paulo capital to the countryside of Botucatu- Demetria a rural neighbourhood , also in Spaulo state.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Project H Design

Product design initiatives for Humanity, Habitats, Health, and Happiness.
Project H Design is a charitable organization that supports, inspires, and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design solutions. We champion industrial design as a tool to address social issues, a vehicle for global life improvement, and a catalyst for individual and community empowerment.
Project H Design encourages the reorientation of the design industry towards a more socially-impactful and humanitarian entity through a variety of Initiatives including Fund this Product and our Project H studio classes at design universities.
Project H Design is a tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit organization. All donations made after January 8, 2008 are tax-deductible.

Project H: Design for Education- June 2 - August 2Project H studio sessions are an educational arena in which to work with students, designers, and other collaborators on design projects which address social issues. Our first program this summer will be Design for Education, and will look at ways in which product designers can produce educational products that improve elementary education on a global scale. The studio sessions will encourage the design community and design academics to use design skills to solve real problems and serve individuals and communities. Design for Education, Summer 2008 will forge collaborations between unlikely partners- teachers, designers, students, the public, global citizens, etc.The Design for Education studio, held at the California College of Arts, will serve as a pilot curriculum to be rolled out additional design schools, addressing different social issues (Design for Health, Homelessness, Water) within each program.


Founded in 2006, mater is a copenhagen-based company with a strong vision to create timeless and beautiful design based on an ethical business strategy. mater combines exclusive high end home accessories with working methods that support people, local craft traditions and the environment.

Friday, 20 June 2008


Design Forum Finland's summer exhibition Glocal Shopper launches a discussion on the responsibility of design. Its themes are ethical purchasing and consumption, local production, and domestic materials. The leading role is given to local design and small craft and design companies, which often lead the way in ecological issues. The choice of examples emphasizes products that conserve nature and solutions of ecological insight that are based on recycling, saving energy and durability.Glocal Shopper seeks also to encourage consumers to make choices that are more environmentally friendly and to be aware of the importance of the life-span of products. The client, designer, manufacturer and end-user are all ultimately responsible for the environmental impact of a product. "Consumers ultimately decide what products are made and how. Everyone's personal purchasing decisions have impact, even though you might not always believe it," says ceramist Jatta Lavi. The exhibition features an important group of Finnish designers and companies whose design products represent sustainable development and life-span thinking: Amer Sports Suomi, Artek, Doctor Design, Susan Elo, Evolum, Fiskars Brands, Iittala Group, Helkama Velox, Huhtadesign, Isku Koti, J.S. Team, Karttuuni, Kiks, Kotonadesign, Jouko Kärkkäinen, Jatta Lavi, Marimekko, Nikari, Nounou Design, original habitek works*, Plastex, Seija Ranttila, Saas Instrumentti, Markku Salo, Secto Design, Showroom Finland, Sokeva, Jussi Sutela, Janna Syvänoja, Anri Tenhunen, Tunto Design, Jaana Tuomisto, Twin-Shop, Tiia Vanhatapio, Verso Design, Woodnotes, Valvomo and artisans of the Fiskars Cooperative.The sale exhibition includes furniture, lamps, small items for the home, jewellery and clothing made from recycled material, and a collection of products for children.

Article 23, une marque de La Compagnie du Commerce Equitable

«Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring
for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity» in response to article
23 of the declaration of human rights, the collection is engaged from its conception
to produce an ethical fashion brand. The collection is produced in India where it collaborates
with young women with handicap or caste problems. The collection is made
in 100% organic fabrics.

Entreprise de l’économie sociale, La Compagnie du Commerce Equitable a pour principal objectif d’initier des partenariats en faveur d’un développement durable et développe ainsi de nouvelles filières d’importation et de distribution de meubles, objets de décoration et accessoires dans le cadre d’une action solidaire.
Concevoir des styles tendances, former les couturiers pour leur permettre de confectionner des modèles jadis inabordables, produire dans le respect de l’Homme…Article 23 s’investit dans chacune de ces missions afin de permettre à des femmes des bidonvilles de Bombay en situation précaire de vivre de leur ouvrage.L’atelier de production emploie 250 femmes et soutient des programmes de développement en faveur des communautés défavorisées au sein des bidonvilles. Dans un souci de solidarité et nourri par un besoin d’émancipation, l’enseignement des techniques de modélisme contribue à l’apport de débouchés commerciaux et donc de perspectives d’expansion future.« Grâce à l’étroite collaboration tissée sur le terrain avec les couturiers, l’équipe Article 23 s’implique afin de moderniser la mode équitable, tout en créant un partenariat sur le long terme avec son atelier de production »


LaModeEthique - The Guide to Ethical Fashion aims to increase awareness and accessibility of the fast-growing niche of designers and organisations who acknowledge that people who are fashion savvy are not going to buy something that makes you look like you're wearing a burlap sack just because its kind to the environment or people no matter how much you hark on about it. A better idea would be to offer an alternative. To offer the discerning fashionista clothing that they've 'gotta have' for the very same reasons as they would any other piece of clothing. This way you don't have to depend on people giving a damn who made their dress (which is a comparatively small percentage of the population). Reports come up on the news left right and centre showing an ever increasing number of people who are concerned about the production of their clothing and anything else for that matter. However, despite their concern, how many of them actually buy ethically proactive products? How many MORE people would buy ethically proactive products if they knew what was out there, how to buy it and that the products fulfilled their own self-centred desires?

Monday, 12 May 2008

Siwa Creations project

Siwan embroidery has made its way into the select world of Italian haute couture. Italian fashion designers have discovered the intricate beauty of Siwan embroidery. Its exquisite dainty stitch and its floral patterns have brought a refreshing look to traditional garments such as the ubiquitous jean trousers or a simple white cotton dress.
Siwa has a lot to offer because two people, Mounir Neamatalla and his sister Laila have been instrumental in launching Siwa on the global market. Mounir Neamatalla unsurprisingly has just been named one of the most enterprising people in Egypt.
Neamatalla has begun to collaborate with international designer labels by liaising with the seamstresses and embroiderers she employs in the Siwa Oasis on the western edge of the Egyptian desert.Most recently, the Siwan women stitched traditional motifs into couture garments and accessories for the Italian atelier Ermanno Scervino. Maverick marketing is yet another method that entrepreneurs are using.In 1996 when giant international fashion brands were still dithering about the role of the Internet in their retail operations, the Senegalese fashion designer Oumou Sy was opening an e- commerce site to sell accessories abroad.One of Africa's most well- known fashion designers, Sy had made private clients in Europe after she appeared in several high-profile exhibitions there. Such self-made artisans and designers isolated from any organized fashion industry are often those first out of the starting blocks.Capitalizing on handicrafts, cottage industries and traditional techniques, they experiment with product development, negotiate microfinancing and find clever partnerships.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008


Salamanca design & Co is a strategic design firm born in 1991 by Lucy Salamanca, Designer of Colombia, Bogotà and who studied in 1985 in the Istituto Europeo di Design di Milano. Fair Trade is one of the sectors in which they work.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Sustaining local communities through design

This is a blog of a young designer who has been 6 weeks in Brazil for the STRAAT project.
He writes:
"I will be working with small craft communities on creating a line of products to be sold in the local design markets. These groups specialize in bamboo, but are currently not able to support themselves with the products they make. Some of the groups also have outreach programs for various citizens and teach them how to craft bamboo. My goal will be to design, prototype, and ultimately try to commercialize products so that these communities will bea ble to sustain themselves. I got involved by inquiring around about how I could use my thesis time (where the students get to choose the projects) to really do something that could actually make a difference. I have seen a lot of projects that have the goal of helping people, and are made for situation, but are never made and I wanted to get really hands on. But anyways, I ended up getting connected to this program:
which works specifically with groups in brazil. Everyone involved was incredibly enthusiastic about making this work, which really helped, as I had about a week and a half to really scramble to make this happen, including working with my teachers, the school, finding flights, and making an emmergency trip to Chicago to secure a Visa in time to leave. But everything is in action now, and I currently await my flight to Sao Paulo. I am really excited, and a bit nervous, but I think this is going to be a great and formative experience on my career in design."

Saturday, 26 April 2008


Made in China
Will be presented at the Saloneinternationale del Mobile di MilanoApril 16th till 22nd
Material: porcelain with three different hand crafted designsDimensions:Label: Designstudio Carola ZeeLimited editionYear: 2007

Made in China (November 2007)is Carola’s latest collection and was realized in Jingdezhen China. The collection is presented with a book publication, which tells the storyof the people behind the production and shows the way they work. The vases are the end result of this collaboration and show the different techniques typical for this region of China.
Even with the big economical and industrial changes in China at the moment a lot of products here are still produced manually. These products are able to compete with the low prices of machine-produced products because of the low wages the Chinese craftsmen get paid. By creating this collection Carola wants to make consumers aware of the fact that most Chinese products and the people creating them are underrated. Through interviews and photographs she shows the amount of work and time that the craftsmen put in to the creation of this collection.


XO+ is a fair trade collection of products made by women in different parts of Nepal.
It's the tendency to produce in a good way in Europe knows often the problem that there we do not know what is possible, how to communicate. And the development country has no idea how to communicate and what is expected by the difficult European clients or how to reach them. What counts for development countries, counts for Nepal. Nepal is a country rich in culture, materials and techniques we can not afford at all in Europe anymore. But the people in Nepal don't see the specialty anymore of those qualities. So we make new designs with the old techniques and habits of the Nepali people and in this way those unique qualities don't get lost. The people will be proud again about there culture and the European people can buy these nice products with a fair feeling.The co-operation of feminine producers in Nepal, has started a new project. A Design products collection. In co-operation with Dutch designers a new collection has been produced with the first 18 companies. All participants of this unique project are part of fare business. Womanpower has a poverty alleviation target reached trough a business, work and production improvement.
A link between both worlds.
A good design, a good product.
A win win result.

Only this way there is a opening to give fair trade design products a change to be competitive at the international market.We know Design & Fair Trade, it's possible!


WEMADE is a project between two Dutch designers and Indonesian craftspeople who were victims of the Bantul earthquake 2006.
Goal: to increase the economic independence of local craftspeople.
Result: series of lifestyle products meant for export.


Artecnica's mission is to elevate the purpose and value of everyday objects by using design to enchant, inspire and transform through the powerful tools of art and technology. Art represents the most personal expression of our design language, technology our unique application of materials, fabrication methods and techniques.
We started traveling the world, exploring and sharing experiences. Specialized vendors were selected and collaborations with designers, merchants and craftsmen begun. New materials were explored experimentally and spontaneously.
This deeper awareness of our global impact inspired a formalized program for Artecnica we call Design with Conscience. Artisan communities of developing countries handcraft objects designed by internationally recognized designers, often utilizing recycled products, both minimizing environmental impact and stimulating depressed economies.
As we continue explore the world and create new design, we also transform and look forward to the challenges we have set with Design With Conscience and our commitment to enchant, inspire, tranform.
The designer can dovetail the capacities of artisans with the needs of the international marketplace. The project producer provides the logistics, marketing, and art direction necessary to bring the work of the designer and the artisan to the consumer. As project producer, Artecnica partners with such nonprofit organizations as Aid to Artisans and the British Council.
Our challenge is to develop a competitive product that will encourage the survival of indigenous craft. Fulfilling this mission requires a smart designer, a savvy and visionary project producer, and a willing and ambitious artisan. Our objective is to avoid the mechanization of the artisan, which devalues his work and undermines the project from both a design and an economic standpoint.

Saturday, 1 March 2008


DESIGN 21: Social Design Network's mission is to inspire social activism through design. We connect people who want to explore ways design can positively impact our many worlds, and who want to create change here, now.

Monday, 25 February 2008


The SocialDesignSite aims to foster and facilitate a discourse on social design by establishing a unique interactive platform between everyone interested on the topic. We present innovative projects that help develop and sharpen our common understanding of social design in context and practice. We create awareness among the general public that we could do things differently in various part of the world and various areas of life. We achieve this through our website and by the organization of and participation in workshops, exhibitions, conferences, lectures, etc.

Friday, 25 January 2008


In today’s business world, it’s no longer enough to simply outperform the competition. To thrive in a world of ceaseless and rapid change, business people have to outimagine the competition, by learning how to think – and become – more like designers.

To promote the principles and practice of design thinking, the Rotman School established designworks™, a centre for design-based innovation and education. Part of the Rotman Design Initiative, designworks™ is the result of an innovative collaboration with Stanford University’s Institute of Design, headed by IDEO founder David Kelley, and the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design, headed by Patrick Whitney.

The program fuses the strengths of its academic and industrial partners to provide a working model for inspiring innovation across a wide range of design-related disciplines. By providing design coaching, innovation workshops and other customized programs, the centre aims to shape corporate culture and groom a new generation of business designers.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008


Design for the World is an international humanitarian organisation whose objective is to match the skills and commitment of volunteer designers with the needs expressed by disadvantaged populations and the organisations that serve them worldwide. Design for the World unites graphic designers, industrial designers and interior and architectural designers around one common idea: voluntary design for people in need.Design for the World believes that people disadvantaged by poverty, war, disability, age or environmental conditions deserve equal access to practical design solutions that will improve their day-to-day lives. Design for the World seeks to extend the benefits of design to populations without access to adequately designed materials, objects, tools and living environments.

Friday, 11 January 2008


CREAR artesanía, colección de piezas
El proyecto Crear Artesanía, generado en el marco del programa URBAN y cofinanciado por la Comisión Europea, apuesta por conjugar los valores tradicionales de la artesanía con diseños más actuales acordes a las necesidades de nuestra sociedad.
Ya en el año 2005 presentó las primeras piezas elaboradas partiendo de elementos iconográficos propios de Sanfermines y Camino de Santiago, piezas diferentes, en las que la calidad, la creatividad y el diseño convivían con el carácter artesanal de las mismas.
La etnografía ha sido el motivo elegido en esta edición. El trabajo conjunto de investigación entre profesionales del diseño y de la artesanía, ha permitido, partiendo de productos tradicionales, incorporar nueva formas, usos, materiales y funcionalidades que permiten mejorar la competitividad e innovación de los talleres artesanos.
El trabajo desarrollado es un aliciente y un motivo de satisfacción para las personas y entidades involucradas, pero, sobre todo, un reconocimiento a la labor de los artesanos y diseñadores de Pamplona y de Navarra, gracias a los cuales, los valores tradicionales de nuestro pasado permanecen aún hoy vivos entre nosotros.


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