Task 6: Design for Nature

Cranwell Park, Braybrook

At first glance, this image conveys the idea of an untouched wilderness, until our eyes are drawn back to the concrete steps and steel railings that man has made. Marris believes that “we can find beauty in nature, even if signs of humanity are present” (Marris, 2011, p.3) and I think this statement is very true. I felt comfortable when walking along the path within this image, because I knew where I was going, there was no unknown; I knew which direction I was going in and how to get back. In relation to Marris’ (2011) statement, I think that humanity has gathered a sense of safety within environments altered by humanity. Fences gives us a sense of security and although they restrict us from being completely enveloped in nature, I don’t think we mind, because for all we know we are safer behind the fence.

Vacant block of land, Ashley St, West Footscray

After going on a long walk throughout my neighbourhood I also happened to come across many vacant blocks of land, soon to be covered in slabs of concrete and a patch of pebbles. Just imagine how many different ecosystems are living on this block, is it right for us to wipe them all out in order to suit our own lifestyle? Most of these blocks of land don’t get a second glance, they are mowed of their nature and stripped of their wild beauty to make way for humanities touch.
“Instead of focusing on the past, they are looking to the future and asking themselves what they’d like it to look like” (Marris, 2011, p.13).

Another reason for why humanity is shaping nature around us is because we are not capable as human beings to look after the wild, untouched nature we are given here on Earth. We use, we litter, we wound, we leave. I think rambunctious gardens are the best idea we’ve had yet.

Marris, E. (2011). Rambunctious Garden: saving nature in a post-wild world. New York: Bloomsbury.


Activity 6: Reflections

A) I found the topic of Data Visualisation, which we studied in week two, really interesting. I think I enjoyed it the most because I learnt quite a bit. I’m a visual learner and this is why the topic really took my attention. I loved viewing the TED talks, because these were so moving and engaging, it was almost hard not to take in all the information. The visual side of data is remarkable and I think it is only just the tip of the iceberg of what we can do with data in the near future.

B) The topic I learnt the most was Waste=Food (Cradle-to-Cradle), which we studied in week ten. I think this is because of the film we had to watch, which, even though it went for a long time, it was very informative and very engaging. I think it really was the Waste=Food(Van Hattum, 2007) video that gave me the most information and made it easier to understand the concept.

C) The reading I found the most interesting was Defining Design as Activism (Thorpe, 2011). It wasn’t the topic that interested me the most, it was the way the reading was written;I found it was very well written. I have actually read more of Thorpe’s work, merely because she has a very good way of putting her point of view out there and engaging the reader through her experience and profession.

D) I enjoyed Assessment 2: Activity 3, where we had to compare tricks and effects of Michel Gondry and George Melies, because it was the most useful in building my academic skills. It was this activity which forced me to really dig deep and concentrate on the information placed in front of me, in order to make proper comparisons, because there wasn’t a reading that would give me the answers.

Activity 5: Letter Arguing for Funds

Private and Confidential
The Ian Potter Foundation
2435 Polk St, Suite 21

To Whom It May Concern,
The Mulago Foundation

I am writing to you on behalf of the Non-Government Potting the Globe Organisation, in regards to our innovative design that we believe can benefit a wider range of communities.

The pot-in-pot cooler is a design which uses an environmentally-friendly method of thermodynamics, to keep vegetables, fruits and other foods refrigerated. The way this design works is by placing a small pot within a larger pot, then filling the space between the two pots with sand and water. The food is then placed within the small pot and covered by a dampened towel.

The refrigerator is one of the highest energy consumption appliances on the market today, meaning that it greatly increases our carbon footprint. The pot-in-pot cooler is a product that can extensively reduce this carbon output, as it does not need electricity. This in turn, will inevitably decrease your energy usage, and, of course, using less energy means a healthier planet. For communities that do not have the the luxury or accessibility to such appliance, leaves them struggling for a way to preserve their food, sometimes resulting in hunger. The pot-in-pot cooler is an inexpensive and simple design that could alleviate this problem that occurs in less fortunate, poorer communities. If the pot-in-pot cooler were to be placed in more communities, imagine the global flow-on effect that would occur.

The pot-in-pot cooler has already proven to be successful in communities across Africa, where the climate is hot and dry, communities are able to keep their produce fresh. The benefits of this design not only lengthen the lifespan of fruit and vegetables by a substantial amount, meaning that it stays fresh for longer, but also minimises the amount of food waste in the area as well as hunger. In places with more fortunate communities, the pot-in-pot cooler would still be a benefit, reducing food shops and decreasing food and electricity bills. This shows that the pot-in-pot cooler is not limited to a certain community, it can contribute to all.

The Mulago Foundation’s mission is to focus on “solutions that meet the basic needs of the poorest families” and to improve the “the well-being of the most vulnerable” (The Mulago Foundation, 1993) and as the pot-in-pot cooler is a product designed specifically to improve the lives living within unfortunate communities, it merely parallels this mission with the same intention. I believe this design can be of assistance to not only our polluted planet, but most importantly its communities which struggle to live without proper resources and this is why I leave it in your position to consider and evaluate the benefits of this pot-in-pot cooler, in hope that with your help it will have the chance to contribute and benefit more communities in the near future.

Yours Sincerely,

Miss Ellen Ortmann
Potting the Globe Organisation (NGO)


The Mulago Foundation. (1993). Retrieved from http://mulagofoundation.org

Solar Cookers International Network. (n.d.). Pot-in-Pot Cooler. Retrieved from http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Pot-in-pot_cooler

The Permaculture Research Institute. (2008). A Refrigerator that Runs without Electricity. Retrieved from http://permaculturenews.org/2008/08/11/a-refrigerator-that-runs-without-electricity/

Activity 4: Compiling a reference list for your Issue essay

Option 2: Explore three recent communication/digital design media/interior design/architectural design projects by designers working in Australia, New Zealand and/or Pacific nations and explain how these examples of design activism have responded to one or more contemporary social problems.



Fraud-Luke, A. (2009). Design Activism: Beautiful Strangeness for a Sustainable World. Sterling, Vaginia, US: Earthscan. EBL Ebook library. Retrieved from http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/(S(jnsm1phgsmbkmgdjlhn1t1z3))/Reader.aspx?p=476576&o=132&u=aDQ4uH456Fw8C6mqQH14YA%3d%3d&t=1440464948&h=D80A2811B651628DE1D78575540B9ED3B50AFDCF&s=20819196&ut=405&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=1#

Heller, S. & Vienne, V. (2003). Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility. New York, Allworth Press. EBL Ebook Library. Retrieved from http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/(S(um21tmrkmw4umuarbqz5ja2o))/Reader.aspx?p=1052355&o=132&u=aDQ4uH456Fw8C6mqQH14YA%3d%3d&t=1440465606&h=F6CA7248A0F811AE6930539C07869584D4CF38D0&s=20819541&ut=405&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=1#

Thorpe, A. (2012). Architecture and Design versus Consumerism: how design activism confronts growth. New York, Routledge. EBL Ebook Library. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/lib/swin/detail.action?docID=10572214

Roberts, L. (2006). Good: Ethics of Graphic Design. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing.


Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism, Design Activism. Retrieved from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf

Di Cintio, L. (2014). Design Activism: Developing models, modes and methodologies of practice, Idea Journal. Brisbane, Queensland University of Technology. Retrieved from http://idea-edu.com/journal/2014-idea-journal/


Rawsthorn, A. (2014). Fixing Stuff, Repairing the World, New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/arts/design/the-fab-mind-a-tokyo-show-highlights-design-activism.html?_r=3

Rawsthorn, A. (2013). Expanding the Definitions of Design, New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/arts/design/Expanding-the-Definitions-of-Design.html

Rule29. (2000). Creative Matter. Retrieved from http://rule29.com/culture/how-we-see/


Anti-Memorial to Heroin Overdose Victims [ image ] (2002). Retrieved 11/08/15 from https://www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/sueanne-ware

Darling Quarter Project [ image ]. (2012). Retrieved 11/08/15 from http://architecture2030.org/40626305768/

TEDGlobal. (Producer), & Philloton, E. (Presenter). (2010, July). Teaching Design for Change [ video ]. TED Talks. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/emily_pilloton_teaching_design_for_change?language=en

White Light [ image ]. (2013). Retrieved 11/08/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/white-light/~details

Activity 3: Journal Research

Assessment 1: Activity 3: Journal Research

There is quite an unclear definition of what design activism essentially is and what it can achieve. For the most part, design activism promotes social change, but it is the aesthetics of the design that directly affect society. Designing for social change is a major task, that should not be taken on lightly; an extensive amount of planning should be involved, as well as research and so on.

In the article, The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism (Markussen, 2013), Thomas Markussen (2013) gives an intriguing and compelling argument of what design activism truly is and focuses on the two components, art and politics, that hold the discipline together and their “interrelation between aesthetics and the political” (Markussen, 2013, p.39). Markussen (2013) argues that the focus within design activism is on the “effect evoked in the people” (Markussen, 2013, p.50) not the techniques of the design. This article was written with a clear precise language, which made it quite persuasive and engaging. Markussen (2013) made his argument convincing as he presented his insights, with a diagram to show and prove his point, that design activism cannot be defined as just political, because aesthetics are the central discipline (Markussen, 2013, p.41).

In contrast to Markussen (2013), Bauke Steenhuisen’s (2013) article shifted from the focus of design activism and gave insight into the process, the technique, of designing for social change. In his article, How to Design for Social Change (Steenhuisen, 2013), Steenhuisen designs a template that is quite informative, yet easy to follow, which breaks down each stage within the design process and gives his advise on each step. Steenhuisen (2013) is an assistant professor at Delf University and considers ‘design for social change’ the core of his discipline. What was most intriguing about his article, is his commitment to his students and his passion to feed them the knowledge he believes they need in order to be successful designers. The arguments Steenhuisen puts forward are convincing, as he uses real life examples to back up his statements, using examples from his students in this case such as “each year, students want to convince me that they lack a more structured step-by-step approach to account for social complexity in design thinking” (Steenhuisen, 2013, p.303). Steenhuisen’s aim, in comparison with Markussen (2013) is to make the complex clearer and better comprehended.


Markussen, T. (2013). The Disruptive Aesthetics of Design Activism: enacting design between art and politics. Design Issues, 29(1), 38-50. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=c3cf1686-98ae-4cb5-9130-965ac57f4ef7%40sessionmgr115&vid=1&hid=110

Steenhuisen, B. (2013). How to Design for Social Change: a template. Journal of Design Research, 11(4), 301-316. doi: 10.1504/JDR.2013.057758

Activity 2: Design Activism – Using APA 6th Edition Referencing

Food Connect Imagine
Food Connect. (n.d.) Food Connect poster [image]. Retrieved 24/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~i-200

Food Connect (Inkahoots, n.d.) is a community shared agricultural model, that fosters real relationships between farmers and those who eat their food. Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) poster embraces the negativity placed upon local produce due to profit driven food supply systems in supermarket companies. This negativity corresponds with Thorpe’s (2011) criterion four “Excluded and Neglected Groups” (Thorpe, 2011, p.12). From the poster we can identify how the produce is being marginalised, If we look beyond the poster it is evident that the farmers of this produce are the one’s being excluded from society due to their “dirty, rough, imperfect, unruly” (Inkahoots n.d.) yield.

Thorpe’s (2011) criterion three “Claim for Change” (Thorpe, 2011, p.11) is shown in Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) project by advocating the need to support local farmers and their produce, via prints upon vehicles, pamphlets and posters.

Food Connect (Inkahoots n.d.) disrupts the perception or the public opinion of what real local and organic Australian produce looks like. This corresponds with Thorpe’s (2011) criterion one “Disruption” (Thorpe, 2011, p.9). Many supermarkets have misguided society into believing that big, bright and perfectly shaped produce is the best produce, this misconception is the root of the problem for local farmers.

Thorpe’s (2011) criterion two “Framing a Problem” (Thorpe, 2011, p.10) is highlighted in Food Connect’s (Inkahoots, n.d.) project, where they have identified the problem local farmers are facing and structured it into a easily digestible concept to raise awareness. It is difficult for these farmers to connect with locals as all their funds go towards their produce rather than advertising and branding, which is the key factor in connecting consumers to suppliers.


Thorpe, A. (2011). Defining Design as Activism. retrieved 23/07/15 from http://designactivism.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Thorpe-definingdesignactivism.pdf

Inkahoots. n.d. Food Connect. retrieved 22/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~details

Food Connect. (n.d.) Food Connect poster [image]. Retrieved 24/07/15 from http://inkahoots.com.au/projects/food-connect/~i-200

Activity 1: First Things First Manifesto 2000 &’Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto’

The First Things First Manifesto 2000 (Emigre 51, 1999) raises many important points about the shifted view and role of the designer, such as the graphic designer, where commercial power and marketing has become the priority. I believe the First Things First manifesto (1999) draws attention to what it really means to be a designer and more significantly creates awareness and an opening for discussion and debate, as we are all contributing now. I agree that marketing and commercial work is now bigger than ever, it is all around us, and has very much become a part of our society. The manifesto (1999) describes advertisements as “dog biscuits,” (Emigre 51, 1999) which I find quite clever in the way that it depicts the usefulness of these advertisements. A dog does not need a biscuit to live, it is merely a treat, something to crave; it is a want. Designers should not be wasting their skill, their talents or their minds on designing “dog biscuits” (Emigre 51, 1999) which, according to the manifesto (1999), are short-term, “inessential” and unsustainable things that offers no real improvements to society. I understand the arguments the manifesto (1999) puts forward and appreciate the awareness it draws but commercial work is also an effective form of communication and in this day and age it is a useful and popular method used to send all kinds of messages to society.

Bierut’s (Philizot, 2007) criticisms of the manifesto I found to be quite fair and insightful, such as designers having the right to say no. However I fount Bierut’s (2007) point about designers having the right to refuse to work for a client if that does not have the same goals. People disagree with each other each day and for designers who rely on work for an income usually push their differences aside, in order to make a living. Although Bierut (2007) states that a designer should never be in a situation that leaves them making a decision purely based on money, I still think that a designer should try and work with a client, to understand the basis of their goals, instead of rejecting them; an open mind is important in the design world.


Emigre 51. (1999). First things first manifesto 2000. Retrieved from http://www.emigre.com/Editorial.php?sect=1&id=14. Viewed 7/07/15.

Philizot, V. (2007). Graphic design and metamorphoses: A few footnotes to ten footnotes to a manifesto, Graphisme en France. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/7825774/Graphic_Design_and_Metamorphoses_of_the_spectacle._A_few_footnotes_to_Ten_Footnotes_to_a_Manifesto. Viewed 7/07/15