Does sustainability only make you think about solar energy, reducing green house gases and recycling? Then think again, because according to the international DESIS network (Design for Social Innovation & Sustainability), sustainability is much more than those well-known examples. DESIS – consisting of (design)schools, institutions, companies and non-profit organizations interested in design for social innovation and sustainability – supports creative bottom-up innovations that contribute to more sustainable and happier lives for people around the world.
DESIS has for example been involved in projects such as the development of a ‘self-service milk machine’ for residents of Paderno Dugnano (Italy), a ‘bicycle flea market’ for people in Turku (Finland) and the development of a ‘Boxes Shop’ for small-scale manufacturers in Hong Kong who didn’t have the money to rent an entire shop, but did have the financial means to rent a special display-box in a shop to offer their goods. Could such projects also be successful in Turkey?
This question might soon be answered. Yesterday the Turkish branch of the DESIS network was launched at the Industrial Product Design Department of Istanbul Technical University. As Turkey is relatively at the beginning of its journey towards more sustainable living, it can probably greatly benefit from the creative solutions developed and shared within the DESIS network. After all, creativity might be the most important ingredient for innovative sustainable solutions to today’s problems.
“Sustainability is greatly dependent on creativity, but for many governments this combination of sustainability and creativity is hard to swallow,” Victoria W. Thoresen, project managers of PERL (Partnership for Education & Research about Responsible Living) stated during the launching event. “That’s why it is important that networks such as DESIS share creative solutions and show that they are replicable,” she claimed.
Andrea Mendoza from DESIS Colombia strongly agreed. “We don’t want to preach sustainability and tell people to do this or that. We simply want to show them inspiring and creative examples, that might trigger new ideas for more sustainable living.”
There are already quite some examples of DESIS-style design-based social innovation and sustainability projects in Turkey: the ‘Made in Şişhane’ project supported lighting manufacturers in a downtown area of Istanbul, the ‘Kerkenes Eco-Center Project’ introduced the local residents of Kerkenes to solar cooking and vegetable drying, and the town of Seferihisar joined the ‘Slow Movement’ and became a ‘Slow City‘ in order not to lose its original character.
With hundreds of examples from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, DESIS Turkey will probably find enough inspiration to produce many interesting new projects on top of the already existing ones. In turn, other people in the world will then be able to learn from the Turkish experiences…