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So many stories, so many designs

January 12, 2010

In 2004 I went to Barcelona to take part in the Universal Forum of Cultures. It was the first one of its kind to bring together people from all corners of the globe in order to workshop Cultural diversity, Sustainable development and Conditions for peace.

We propose, says the manifesto (among lots and lots of other things) “that culture play a more central role in shaping human development, providing a foundation for better ways of living and coexisting. Culture is an irreplaceable form of social capital in the model of sustainable development for cities and societies.”

One thing that really kicked all my boxes (and still does, cause I’ve got the book!) was an exhibition called Equally_Different – Everyday objects from around the world. Designer/curator Uli Marchsteiner had undertaken a massive expedition covering 5 continents where he had selected and collected over 800 everyday objects, to show different ways of solving everyday needs. (And boy is that one expedition I would have wanted to do myself!)

The brilliant FAD, who produced the exhibition ‘to fight the powerful trend towards homogenization – a trend that tries to impose a single design, a standard food, a single language’ wrote a brilliant introduction:

“This is the aim of this exhibition: to show that different cultures have developed different objects to meet identical needs. And thus to show that, fortunately, creative freedom exists beyond the fulfillment of function. It is said that a good test of the health of an ecosystem is the number of different species that co-exist within it, its so-called biodiversity. If we translate this assertion to the material environment, we could state that the biodiversity of objects is a good barometer of the health of the planet. If these healthy differences diminished, it would doubtless be to the detriment of the whole.”

Here’s a bit of wicked dustpan biodiversity. And for someone who uses a dustpan as infrequently as I do, I sure like these guys.

Oh and by the way, better book your ticket to Chile in October – the next Forum is in Valparaíso.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen deegan permalink
    January 15, 2010 5:56 pm

    Your words, your take on the world, bringing out of this exhibition the metaphor ‘ that the biodiversity of objects is a good barometer of the health of the planet.’ resonates so strongly.

    It brings the sense of the futility of the steady ship of globalisation and the monster in the closet that is climate change lighter, that we have power in what we buy and use everyday.. I wish that I will be one of those consumers one day soon, that gives a shit with every purchase and vote wisely with every dollar or euro I spend.

    Thanks anna for this brilliant metaphor, it ll help so much.

  2. January 16, 2010 4:03 pm


  3. January 16, 2010 7:36 pm

    Well you’ll just wanna steal it, that’s why. (For those who don’t know sandra or regularly read her blog, see this post of hers from jan4)
    Sandra, you can read it under my supervision next time you come to my house. If you bring cake.

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