This is the story of my master's thesis at SCAD condensed into 2 minutes and 30 seconds. More details on the thesis here: poweredbysilas.com/dreamdev
In the developing world, poverty forms wicked problems which have not been adequately addressed by existing humanitarian design methods. All too often these methods fail to account for the problem’s context, including the values, aspirations, and needs of end users. The primary purpose of this study is to devise a participatory design methodology for product development in emerging countries. To develop a participatory design methodology, the Island of Ometepe, Nicaragua represents an ideal case-study location because of its unique economic and environmental factors: Ometepe is a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua with per capita incomes well below the national average. The intent of this case study is to involve the emerging communities of Ometepe in the design process and foster indigenous innovation. Findings from ethnographic research indicate opportunities for low-cost decentralized power solutions, and consequently, microfinance packages that make these solutions affordable for local entrepreneurs with limited available capital. The study reveals a shift in emphasis from Victor Papanek’s traditional affordability and functionality requirements to a holistic set of heuristics encompassing desirability and aspirational aesthetics. The final working prototype, coined the DreamCatcher, satisfies this desirability quotient by combining local symbols of pride with modern aesthetics, generating approximately 25W at a cost of under $200. From the Ometepe case study, the Catalytic Development Process and the Participatory Development Framework for emerging economies are derived. The two P’s and three D’s of the framework illustrate the specific tasks and tools required to define a community’s problem, to prime its community members for involvement, to dream solutions to the problem, to develop a prototype of the solution, and to deliver a business from that solution. Employing this framework on future humanitarian design projects encourages user ownership of the final product or service offering while ensuring that both tacit and explicit user needs are met. The combined Catalytic Development Process and Participatory Development Framework facilitate sustainable development in emerging economies by addressing wicked problems with appropriate tools and methods.
Research, Design, Animation, Voiceover, Video Editing: Yours Truly
Music: Wasaru - Air Balloons used under a Creative Commons Attribution License