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Elle Decor Italia

How design can help make the world a better place

Dubai’s Global Grand Show, the world’s largest student gathering, is all about fresh ideas on how design can help us build the future

courtesy Photo Solutions

200 projects, 92 universities, 43 countries, 6 continents: these are the numbers of the Global Grand Show. For the second consecutive year, this event was hosted during Dubai Design Week to discuss the future of design starting from the pure creative spirit we can only find in students.

Projects are not organised depending on their origin nor their typology. They are divided according to their aim, namely three: Empower, where we find new ways to spread ideas and expand our abilities; Connect, all about exchange and communities; and Sustain, innovative approaches to reduce waste and produce energy.

Among the 200 projects displayed at Dubai’s Global Grand Show, those dealing with disability and its related daily issues are particularly interesting. For example, Cook&Feel (Lise Eymerit-Morin, Strate School of Design, Sèvres), a collection of accessories to help partially-sighted people cook; Tactuive (Ng Tsian Wah, Nanyang Techonological University, Singapore), which will help them distinguish different dishes and pans; Miko+ physiotherapeutic jewelery (Eva Dulcet, Martyna Swierczynska, School of Form, Poznan), which will bring aesthetic quality to traditional medical devices. Several other projects, instead, are about making life easier for Alzheimer’s patients. For example, The Pillbox for Clothes (Aaron Ethan Green, Pratt Institute, New York), a clothing organiser system that helps patients manage their daily life; Hug Chair (Napat Petcharatana, Pratt Institute, New York), literally offering hugs (many pieces of research stressed the importance of affection as an emotional support). Other projects focus on minimising waste with simple and effective ideas such as The Bat Boat (Claudia Brewster, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne), a small device transforming your child’s bathtub into a boat-toy, allowing you to use half of the water; or Petit Pli (Ryan Yasin, Royal College of Art, London), a clothing line that stretches as children grow. 

Cook&Feel, Lise Eymerit-Morin, Strate School of Design, Sèvres

Others don’t aim at finding solutions but rather at asking questions and at making us think about circumstances far away from our routines. This is the case of Chronicle (Marianna Mezhibovskaya, School of Visual Art, New York), a smuggling recorder conceived to be introduced in jails as a digital radio. This pirate design project makes us reflect on the critical situation of people living in prisons, whose voice is often unheard. 

Miko+ physiotherapeutic jewelery (Eva Dulcet, Martyna Swierczynska, School of Form, Poznan

Brendan McGetrick, the director of the exhibition, managed to create a space dedicated to new ideas, some simple and other more complex, some using innovative technologies and others recycled materials. However, what really matters here is the quality of these ideas, which all together can contribute to build a collective intelligence that can spread through meetings and discussions. In fact, projects’ authors take part to the exhibition interacting with visitors and turning the Global Grand Show into the world’s biggest students’ gathering, with the fascinations, fears and ideals of the future generation of designers. 

Petit Pli, Ryan Yasin, Royal College of Art, Londra

Of course, not all these projects are destined to be successful. Some are at an advanced level, while others are still developing, but all of them use design to solve problems, even those we do not particularly like to talk about such as disability, illness, poverty, resource scarcity. These are the sort of projects that Paola Antonelli presented the concept of the XXII Esposizione Internazionale di Milano with. She claims she wants to start “a reflection on the role of design in the search for a new balance between men and nature”, also through a revisited relationship with engineering, art, science and politics.

While we expect projects combining ethics and aesthetics at next year’s Triennale, in Dubai, the first tends to prevail on the second. We are on the right track. 

Courtesy Photo Solutions


by Carlotta Marelli / 20 November 2017


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