Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Final call to view the exhibition, Design with the other 90%; FADA Gallery. Exhibition closes Friday 10 October 2014.

This is the final call to the local art, design and architecture community to view the current exhibition at the FADA Gallery (Bunting Road Campus). The exhibition presents an opportunity to experience the current design work of academics and senior students from FADA and GDC; research and development projects that underscore the theme of the recently hosted Cumulus Johannesburg 2014 Conference, Design with the other 90%

The exhibition closes on  Friday 10 October 2014.

Central to the curated exhibition is FADA’s commitment to address social, cultural and environmental issues through technology and innovation to improve the quality of life of the local community.

Exhibition Overview

The Design with the Other 90% exhibition showcases design for development projects from the University of Johannesburg's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture as well as the from the Greenside Design School. The work selected for this exhibition deals with the development of a variety of methods that include communities in the design process. The work includes a mix of student and academics' projects that demonstrate how this theme is being dealt with at various levels.

The design of products or systems for developing communities in South Africa has a long history of imposing solutions without the active participation of the end user in the design process. This lack of participation has resulted in limited acceptance of products developed for these communities. Improving the methods of including end users as co-designers in design for development projects should result in a greater success rate regarding the acceptance of projects. It is this very concept that the work at the Design With the Other 90% exhibition attempts to address: how can end users be included as contributors and decision makers in design for development projects?
Delegates from Africa attending Cumulus Johannesburg 2014
Conference. Exhibition Opening.

Projects on Exhibition
  • A wood burning stove designed with the community in HaMakuya, Limpopo
  • A multifunctional farming tool for small scale farmers designed with community members in Soweto
  • A retained-heat cooker designed with members of the Orange Farm community, 45km south-west of Johannesburg
  • Safe candleholders designed with community members in Alexandra, Johannesburg
  • Eight Fixpert student projects designed with people living with disabilities around Johannesburg
  • A series of low cost hydroponic growing systems designed with community members in HaMakuya, Limpopo
  • Posters representing Greenside Design School students' research and design work with communities
  • Posters depicting projects related to the DESIS network and the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg's Design Society Development group
  • Garments designed and manufactured by community members in HaMakuya, Limpopo
  • Green Week projects that involved the design of potential business solutions with developing communities associated with the Enactus Group
  • Research work investigating parks and playground equipment in the developing areas around the University of Johannesburg's Bunting Road Campus
Navigating the Exhibition

Each exhibit is accompanied with an information board, similair to this board. The information boards include a narrative of the project/s and, in most cases, also include the methodology / design process that was followed. These narratives are intended to introduce the projects, with more complex detail appearing on the project posters. The long landscape posters depict the design process in a timeline format.

Tshulu Stove

Project Overview
The Tshulu Stove has been developed through direct engagement with community members in the HaMakuya District, Vhembe Region in Limpopo, South Africa. The stove development combined a user centred design process with co-design workshops, which were used as a means of including end users as decision makers in the refinement of the stove.

The Tshulu Stove is a safe, efficient and sustainable wood burning stove. Each stove will save an average household – that cooks two meals a day – 2 500kg of wood a year. The stove will help reduce deforestation, alleviate issues of respiratory illnesses from open fire cooking, and reduce the risk of burns that is associated with open fire use. In laboratory testing conducted at the University of Johannesburg's SeTAR Centre, the stove has proven to be very efficient. CO/CO2 levels are extremely low at: 2% for paraffin, 5% for charcoal and 10% for wood (the lower the percentage, the better the combustion efficiency). The Tshulu Stove performs at CO/CO2 levels at an average of 3%.

The research and design process included:
  • Preliminary research and observation
  • A hundred household energy usage surveys
  • An analysis of identified problems
  • An analysis of existing technology / precedents and best practice
  • Design and development of suitable stove solutions
  • Six month field testing of 30 working prototypes
  •  Laboratory testing for emissions, particles, efficiency and power
  • Co-design workshops with field test stove users and a comparison group and the development of an improved stove and delivery of 50 of these to HaMakuya. 


Project Overview
The aim of this project was to conduct research in the Alexandra community and use this information to develop design solutions for safer candleholders for off-grid developing communities in South Africa. For this project the students were given the opportunity to research the specific issues related to developing communities in the Alexandra Township. Through interviews, observational studies and a research questionnaire they gained an understanding of the specific community's needs, their circumstances and environmental factors that were to influence the outcome of their design solutions. The project included the end user through the research and development phases as an integral portion of the design process. Through the inclusion of the intended users in the product design process, it is possible for designers to develop products which target and satisfy the personal needs and requirements of the intended users.
The project team included University of Johannesburg students and staff from the Department of Industrial Design, the Manufacture Research Centre (MRC), the Sustainable Energy Technology and Research Centre (SeTAR), the Department of Interior Design, as well as representatives from the Alexandra based NPO Tshwarisanang Environmental Safety Mentors (TEPRASM). The collaboration of research groups, university departments and NPO's allows for the successful and effective development of innovative solutions which can better the living environment in South African townships, as well as provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the residents within these settlements with regards to the manufacturing of these solutions.

HaMakuya Garment Project

Project Overview
The basis of this work is a development project based in the HaMakuya District, Vhembe Region in Limpopo, South Africa. This project involved a group of local women in the development of a sewing co-operative. The opportunity was advertised around the community and interested parties completed an entrance test. The successful candidates formed part of the team that was involved in the development of the sewing co-operative. The women, through the co-operative, manufactured and sold fashion and homeware items made from a traditional Venda material called nwenda. The development project occurred over a period of 18 months (between May 2012 – September 2013), during which the women were trained to manufacture products and operate the co-operative as a business. The training process was inspired by the action research approach of Participatory Action Research (PAR), which employs the iterative and regenerative methodology of a spiral. In terms of training, this methodology entailed different stages of action and reflection on the training process. The approach of action and reflection fostered equal participation and enabled the women and the researcher to establish how training could be improved with the progression of the stages. In the final stage, the women applied the acquired skills to design and manufacture outfits that were modelled and showcased by them in a fashion show.

This project incorporated an action and reflection in each stage of the design process, with the local women acting as co-participants. The reflections were driven by group discussions between the researcher, the designer/trainer and the co-participants in order to address ways in which training could be improved upon through the various stages. The data from the group discussions was digitally recorded and/or documented in written form. These discussions were facilitated by a translator.

The skills training was supported by arts-based methods, such as photograph documentation and role-play. The women were encouraged to use a camera to document the sewing process. The photographs were then utilised as references for the women to learn how to sew independently. Role-play was used by the women to organise and plan their interaction with potential customers. Role-play afforded the women the chance to build their confidence in order to interact with English speaking customers. This is significant, since the women's limited understanding of English presented a challenging experience when interacting with English-speaking customers.

The business training was adapted into a process of financial management. The women were trained to use a trial balance (for recording expenses and sales), a receipt book (for immediate sales) and a frequency polygon graph (monthly accumulated sales).

The Most Significant Change (MSC), a technique that uses storytelling, was used to evaluate the training intervention. Through this technique the women described a moment during the process when they noticed a positive change. This 'story' was probed with a question. The women would then explain why this moment was significant to them. MSC falls within the principle of Appreciative Inquiry, which is implemented in organisations to determine, and reinforce, the strengths of an organisation. Through MSC the women were able to communicate the strengths of the training and by continuing with this process of communicating the initiative will be able to grow.      

 Project Overview
This research project involved the development and testing of small-scale agricultural system components that rely on passive sub-surface irrigation that suits both hydroponic and conventional growing methods, for people living in the HaMakuya District, Vhembe Region in Limpopo, South Africa. The design methodology utilised is that of user centred design, which includes the intended users in as much of the design process as possible, thus maximising the probability of product acceptance and success. This process follows a cyclic pattern of design development, followed by implementation and user feedback. Cycles are repeated as many times as is needed, which results in the design being refined to a point where it is suitable to manufacture. This project is on-going, and preparations are underway for the implementation of test prototypes in the research area. Through the undertaking of a project of this nature, logistical and financial implications start becoming apparent since many of the areas in which there is a dire need for agricultural development are far removed from the areas where the facilities are available to develop these solutions. This research aims to evaluate the process of undertaking a user centred design process with regards to important considerations around the necessary partnerships required between educational institutions, intended end users, suitable NGO's and community representatives.

This information has been presented as part of a conference presentation at the 2014 South African Society for Agricultural Extension: "The Role Of The Professional Extensionist In Sustainable Agricultural Development”.

This project followed a User Centered Design (UCD) approach. This involved a systematic process which started with identifying a need observed during field research trips in Hamakuya. The design process started with the conceptual ideation of solutions which were then developed through design sketching, experimentation, model-making, prototyping and assessment of prototypes. Since the products were developed for intended users, the requirements of these users had to be explored and identified. For this reason, a UCD approach was utilised, which includes intended users in as much of the design process as possible, thus maximising the probability of product acceptance and success. Designing meaningful and innovative solutions that serves the intended users begins with understanding their needs, hopes and aspirations for the future, and following qualitative research methods that allow the designer to develop empathy for people for whom they are designing (IDEO, 2011:41).

Retained-Heat Cooker

Project Overview
This study investigated the user's perspective with reference to the regular use of a commercial, fabric retained heat cooker in low-income communities in a South African context. The research started with a focus group session, which enabled both the researcher and members of the identified community to participate in the improvement of an existing retained heat cooker. The commercially available retained heat cooker was sold in underserved low-income communities without the participation of the end-user.

Participants were able to selectively customise their prototypes, which brought about a sense of ownership and pride that was not evident in their use of existing retained heat cookers. Participants indicated personal interest in creating their own retained heat cookers from the experience that they acquired during the research process. As a result of this experience, the participants believed that they could manufacture their own retained heat cookers to sell within their community, which could provide them with an income. A further and more important result was the ability to save energy (and money) in terms of the fuel required to complete the cooking process. By encouraging the use of energy-efficient retained heat cookers, low-income communities could directly benefit from spending less on fuel costs and more on other essentials.

Participatory action research and user centred design were chosen as the methodologies for this study. The history of retained heat cookers was reflected upon when considering the use of insulation materials and alternative fabric improvements. Methods of manufacture, material costs, and usage were considered as critical elements of the design process, as well as the skill level of the intended users. Participants indicated their personal interest in the design and development of the prototype. As such, they were involved in the design process; from the focus group discussion, where their perceptions were elicited, right through to the testing of the final prototype. A final workshop allowed participants to provide feedback of their experiences of using the prototype retained heat cooker, which identified both their responsiveness as well as the last stage of reflexivity to the end result.

Multifunctional Hoe-Tool

Project Overview
“We don't need a tractor if we have hoes…” Christina Gogo (small-scale farmer, Johannesburg)

Food insecurity manifests itself in many forms and has a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of people. Local food systems are crucial in reducing vulnerability and improving food security. However, often the tools used by local small-scale farmers are not appropriate or have overlapping functions. The intention of the multifunctional hoe-tool was to reduce the number of tools that would typically be given to a small-scale farmer by combining the most essential functions into a single multifunctional tool. The farming hoe was chosen as a base tool since it is one of the most extensively used farming tools in Africa and is already used to perform many functions. The aim was not only to reintroduce the farming hoe into urban farming contexts (where it had declined in use mostly due to limited availability), but also improve its design and add functions. The multifunctional hoe-tool improved on the standard hoe-tool by having a detachable blade, which could easily be replaced, and allowing the blade's orientation to be changed so it could function as a spade. The development of the multifunctional hoe-tool formed part of a Master's study which looked at the design intervention of a Household Farming Kit (HFK). A number of prototype iterations, tested by farmers, were made in order to refine the design in real life conditions. Further refinement and development (additional attachments etc.) for larger scale testing is currently in progress.


Project Overview
“Fixperts is about promoting creative and social values through design. Communicators and designers work together to create projects that demonstrate the use of imagination and skills through fixing. Fixing projects are captured in mini documentaries introducing the people and the story of the process.” (www.fixperts.org)

For the Product Design 3 module, the 3rd Year Industrial Design students were required to complete a Fixperts group project. This project aimed to develop the students' ability to find a problem and problem solve by designing a specific solution for an individual living with a disability. The project was intended to be a very practical introduction to user / human centred design. The students were divided into groups of two or three and the outcome was to supply the Fixpartner with a resolved product for their everyday use. While identifying a problem, the students were asked to be mindful not to aim for the simplest problem, but to discuss the various problems experienced by the Fixpartner, and to make a real and lasting improvement in this person's life. The students were required to document the process followed in this project by making a three minute documentary to be uploaded on the Fixpert website. This exhibition of work shows the product results and documentaries made by the eight groups over the duration of the four-week project.

“We want everyone in the world to feel that they can fix stuff and solve problems. We believe that the design process applied to small fixing challenges has the potential to give people the insight and confidence to find solutions for themselves and others.” (www.fixperts.org)

The sequence shown below depicts the requirements for the Fixfilm documentary and summarises the design process. Throughout the process there is a particular emphasis on acknowledging the equally important roles between Fixpartner and Fixperts. The Fixfilms concentrate on human connection and should reflect and offer insight into the design process to create everyday solutions.

Green Week

Project Overview
Green Week 2014 was launched on Friday, 21 February 2014 at 14:00. The topic was “Community Matters”. This year the project focused on participatory and human centered design, with a focus on Community Engagement in service learning. It was a Green Week of many firsts, including the introduction new strategic partners: the Faculty of Management and UJ Enactus, an international organization for students, academics and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to enable progress around the world. With the help of Joyce Sibeko, from UJ Enactus and the Faculty of Management, and her team of assistants, 14 co-operatives and small businesses from areas such as Soweto, Orange Farm and Alexandra were identified for students to work with during Green Week.

The 30 Green Week Groups comprised of 10-11 students from the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture and 2-3 third year students from the Faculty of Management. The groups were introduced to a member from an entrepreneurial co-operative. Students had to interview this representative on challenges and issues faced by their small business. Based on these interviews, site visits and a research folder provided by Enactus, a needs analysis was made to identify existing issues within the co-op. Groups had to apply a range of design methods, processes and techniques competently to create a creative presentation of their design solution, as well as an executive summary of a business plan from the Business Management members.

After the deadline the top projects were identified by judges from both faculties. The top 3 groups had a variety of innovative projects:

   Group 19, in third place, designed marketing and branding materials for a clothing manufacturer, Mnkhosezwe Trading cooperative, as well as a bag design, to apply to material they had purchased but had not been able to use. They also included a business strategy to help Mnkhosezwe get out of debt, with the help of their bag design.

      Group 11, in second place, designed branding and marketing materials, packaging and a fully functional website, for Home Hatched Poultry farmers. The group also worked out a new business strategy to get community members involved by starting their own home based chicken farms. Group 11 also designed a solid, but foldable, chicken coop as part of this chicken farming 'starter kit'.

      Group 27, in first place, rebranded Disciples Village Bakery to Wake 'e Bakee to give the business a more fun, lively feel. They also designed a start-up kit for new bakers consisting of an apron, tray and trolley for distribution. On top of this they designed inexpensive packaging that can be re-used for a different function and is eco-friendly. They also created a website and a Facebook page.

Whilst these were the top 3 projects there were many more innovative, high-quality and informed ideas, including a bio-degradable coffin, safety gear for recycling trolleys and a transportable herb market.

After the handover, UJ Enactus implemented the majority of  the concepts within the 14 cooperatives that participated, and helped obtain funding to make these innovative design solutions a reality. Top projects were presented at the Enactus national competitions, where it got fourth place nationally.

Design Society Development

Project Overview
Design for Social Development began in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg as an informal reading group of likeminded researchers and academics in 2011. Formally accepted as a Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Lab in 2014, and renamed Design Society Development (DSD), it has become a multi-disciplinary community of practice that seeks to better understand how design can best serve the emerging needs of broader society, specifically in the face of staggering inequality and rapid change in Gauteng, South Africa. The DSD DESIS Lab includes participants from design, the social sciences, economics and art. Activities undertaken within the auspices of the lab include practice, research activities and information dissemination.

The DSD DESIS Lab meets monthly to interrogate research, projects, methods and products that impact on the intersection and interplay between design, society and development in our specific context. We understand design as referring to the conscious choices we make in creating systems (community, society and productive systems) and technologies (products, artefacts, communicative technologies, systems integration); society as the human context that includes the broader social systems of culture, economy, politics and environment; and development as the discourse and practice of positive and considered change. We draw on critical political economy, social sciences, appropriate technology development, participatory and human-centred design, and other design approaches in our practice and research. The selection of posters shown in this exhibition explores projects undertaken by members of the DSD DESIS Lab that reflect these values and intentions.

Greenside Design Centre

10% Design Initiative
The work presented by GDC students stems from a multi-level and multidisciplinary design initiative that sees students applying their design skills for the benefit of a community or cause. The projects cover a wide range of outputs including interior designs for schools, composters for permaculture gardens, interactive games for children with Autism, and awareness campaigns for mental health. The initiative has received significant interest both locally and abroad, and received the international Design for All Award.

10% Design Overview
The 10 Percent initiative sees 10% of the Greenside Design Center College of Design's (GDC) annual notional teaching and learning time devoted to community-based design intervention projects. This translates into the college 'donating' four weeks of formal curricula to community development projects. During this time, class structures are disbanded and replaced by inter-level and interdisciplinary design teams representing a mix of expertise, experience, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Each team works collaboratively to explore a given community's need and the role design can play to respond to that need. The projects vary enormously, from designing information graphics to educate people in informal settlements about the proper care of animals, to designing affordable and easy-to-assemble shops for Spaza Shop owners. The 10Percent initiative speaks to the imperative on South African Higher Education Institutions to include community engagement as a core responsibility, and has received international acclaim including:
  • Awarded the Design For All Award from the International Federation of Interior Designers/Architects
  • Endorsed by the Philadelphia University and the Royall Melbourne Institute of Technology
  • Selected as the focus of the 2014 international Cumulus Conference to be hosted by Greenside Design Center (Cumulus is an international association of universities and colleges of Art, Design and Media)

GDC Overview

Greenside Design Center College of Design (GDC) is a private higher education institution in South Africa offering BA and BA Honours Degrees in Interior, Graphic and Multimedia Design. With Community Engagement and Socially Responsibility at the core of their identity, the intention of 10Percent initiative is to see societies benefit while students learn about applying their design skills in the real world.

Playground Equipment

Project Overview
All authors writing on childhood development concur on the benefits of play for healthy development, with specific importance placed on outdoor play. However, research has shown that the traditional forms of playground and play equipment design, which prevail in the majority of public parks surveyed for this study, do not adequately meet the developmental needs of children. Equally these traditional playgrounds are proving to be unsustainable due to high levels of theft and vandalism.

Research was conducted over a period of five years, on a sampling of playgrounds situated in public open spaces, ranging from small pocket 'parks' to large destination parks in order to establish: space utilisation and layout, the type of play equipment and subsequent play opportunities provided for children, the general condition of the playground equipment in relation to vandalism and maintenance, and other facilities available on the sites.

These playgrounds, which are owned and maintained by the City of Johannesburg, are located in some of the rapidly densifying older suburbs of Johannesburg immediately bordering on the inner city.  As the process of urbanisation results in increased population densities and extended land usage, the need to maintain and provide sustainable public open spaces within future and existing urban developments will become more critical.

Therefore the aim of the research was to establish strategies for alternative design solutions for public playgrounds that holistically meet the developmental needs of children, and which would in turn contribute towards the sustainability of public open spaces.

Step 1.
Data collection:  Documentation of sites from personal observation and digital recordings.

Step 2. 
Theoretical positioning: Literature review of childhood development theory, urbanization, densification and spatial development studies.

Step 3. 
Contextualising: Defining the current social, economic and environmental context.

Step 4. 
Interpretation of the research findings.

Step 5. 
Establishing the design constraints.

Step 6. 
Design development as a problem-solution.

Step 7. 
Prototyping and testing (still to be completed)


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