Design as part of problem-solving

If you’ve been following our blog for a while now you’ll know that once in a while we like to throw in an offbeat topic that we hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do. We’d like to put this down to the fact that the Zaman team is an international melting pot of design fiends, so as you can imagine our lunch time discussions are quite lively.

Our nominated offbeat topic this week has been inspired by a global call-out to re-invent the toilet. If you know of Microsoft’s founder Bill Gates’ philanthropy work then you’re probably also familiar with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its mission to globally enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty as well as expanding educational opportunities and access to information technology through a series of various projects and campaigns.  One of their current projects is a humanitarian design project aimed at distributing over 42 million in potty grants for the re-invention of the toilet as we know it. By adopting a grassroots approach to addressing the health issues associated with lack of adequate sewage across many developing regions, the foundation hopes to source a design that can be easily distributed and used in places without a sewer system.

Traditionally the discipline of design has been thought of in the abstract. Finding company in conversations related to lifestyle rather than livelihood. However this mindset is fast changing. Today we are seeing more examples of collaborations between the design fraternity and disciplines such as science, technology, governance etc. In the case of the re-invention of the toilet project above, the combination of functionality with design is a great example of out-of-the-box thinking as a problem solving approach.

Below are a few more illustrations of design-led thinking as a problem solving approach.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering 42 million in potty grants for the reinvention of the toilet.

Vendor Power! An Education-drive campaign to educate New York street vendors on their rights, rules & regulations to avoid fines and sustain the means to earn a living.

Shape-shifting mobile phones of the future – creating phones that are intuitive and empathic to our lifestyles.

Friends of the High-line – transforming abandoned public spaces.

Can you think of any other interesting examples in your local community that showcases a design approach to problem solving?