A. Eco Design and Design Education
RAIANO Design Workshop--- The Project Experience for Local Development in Strategic Design Approaches
Kun Xue , Miaosen GONG
The paradigm of design is shifting and its boundaries are enlarging. This paper is based on a primary design experience-project Raiano. It investigates design for local development as a new strategic design approach and the potentials of design.
This paper consists of four parts. Firstly the concept about local development is described, especially how design can help to integrate local resources. The second part presents the action research, aimed at providing an overview of research strategies and tools as guidelines for Raiano project. The third part introduces the practical activities carried out, as the results, one of the group works and solutions are discussed. The last part is the conclusion of the action research, particularly, focusing on the role of design in local development.
Keyword: Local development, Strategic design, Raiano, Project, Action research
Introduction: Design transformation
Design as a discipline has been redefined and transforming all the time, particularly in last ten years. The internal dynamics drag the design into the diverse meta-approaches; on the other hand, the external contexts, the problems to be solved, push the design into different performance. Therefore, new design approaches are booming, examples are meta-design, strategic design, service design, design for social innovation (Manzini 2008), design for local development (Maffei 2006) and so on.
As Charles Eames said, what the boundaries of problems are what the boundaries of design. However, the most important modern problems are complex rather than complicated (Burns 2006). Complex problems are more ambiguous in nature, and more connected to other elements and problems. They are more likely to react in unpredictable non-linear ways; and more likely to produce unintended consequences. Tackling climate change is a good example: any solution would require many individuals and many global institutions to change behavior on many different levels. Therefore, we are facing a question: “how do design process and approaches play a new role in tacking the pressing economic and social problems?”
Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media representing 124 first class institutions from all continents, is making a commitment of building sustainable, human centered, creative societies. The Design Declaration was signed on March 28, 2008 in the same venue where the Kyoto Treaty was signed. This event will be an important step towards a new role of design in the transition towards a sustainable society (Sotamaa 2008).
A paradigm shifting from technology driven development to human centered development is under way. The focus is shifting from physical and tangible values to those immaterial, intangible, possibly, less material. Opportunity rises for design to play a role in this process. Under the globalization, local development, and an awareness of the growth of related sustainable society and social cohesion are bringing new challenges and offering new opportunities for design, design education and design research. Design is anticipated to redefine itself and designers must play new roles in the emerging domain: design for local development.
1 Design for local development-the project approach
It is important for future designers to catch hold of the change and play a role in promoting sustainable local development. In this perspective, design can be used in projects aimed at optimizing local resources, which make up the treasures and potential of growth of a specific area. The focus of the project was specifically to promote the territory intended as territorial capital. The territorial capital has been described as the integrated combination of five key resources.  They are,
-know-how and skills, that is the command of technologies and the capacity to do research and development, culture and identity, shared values, common interests, etc.;
-human resources, men and women that reside in the territory, migrants and the people who abandon it, population’s demographic characteristics, activities and businesses (size of businesses, sectors, etc.);
-physical resources and their management, in particular, natural resources (surveys, underground resources, soil, flora and fauna, coast, inland, rivers, lakes etc.), facilities and infrastructures, historical and architectural heritage;
-forms of governance, policies, collective players and the management of the area’s public affairs;
-markets and relations with the outside world, in particular the presence of local products in the different markets, business participation in promotional or exchange networks, network creation capable of amplifying local potential etc
The aim of the translation of resources values and contents into projects is therefore to make visible the territorial peculiarity through a process of materialization of products, services, strategies. In this point, design means the promotion of “scatted resources”. It can be viewed as an activity to define material artifacts or immaterial artifacts. Designers should know the final result having some physical evidences. It can be the design of products, services, or the definition of a system.
2 Action research: “Raian AIR
The project “Raian AIR” is an intervention of improvement of the resources locally available in the territory of Raiano and in the northern part of Peligna Valley in Italy, by means of design-driven actions.
This project is under the guidance of Professor Maffei, Dr Venanzio, and Dr Beatrice. In line with the aforementioned objectives, the project involves POLI.DESIGN, INDACO DEPARTMENT, LOCAL PARTNERS Including Raiano Town Council, St Venanzio Gorges Nature Reserve, Italy.
2.2 Objectives and project areas
“Raian AIR” is a project embracing different actions with the aim of strengthening, by means of design-driven initiatives.
Raiano is the third large town for population in the district of the Peligna Mountain Community. It was erected on the outlet of St Venanzio Gorges. Actually it represents the access gate to the Peligna Valley through the Roman Tiburtina Valeria Way. Raiano is located in an ideal geographic position. The historical richness of spring waters, the climate and territory rich of history and unspoiled nature, make Raiano one of the communities of the district with a major tourist vocation thanks to the recent establishment of the Regional St Venanzio Gorges Nature Reserve and to the thermal development of the rich spring of sulphureous waters.
The project started with the understanding of the potentials correlated with the development of the following resources available:
-St Venanzio Gorges Nature Reserve;
-local traditions (religious events, transhumance), agricultural and food production;
-potential hospitality integrated system;
-cultural and environmental heritage related with Raiano Spa.
The project “RaianAir” is structured in more sections that intend to involve, in a bottom-up process, the local actors: associations, public administrations, bodies, citizens, companies, etc.
The aforesaid actions are organized in the following three main phases:
1- Mission to Raiano: first personal contact between the local actors and the
community of designers of the Master in Strategic Design.
2- Workshop at Politecnico di Milano: designers will develop some strategic projects in line with the indications and methodologies elaborated by INDACO researchers
3- Hypothesis about a public event at Raiano: the design proposals will be presented to the local community in order to create an occasion for exchange and participation of the local actors to the project.
This first system of activities could emerge a proposal of intervention or some scenarios of development for the territory which could give birth to one or more “pilot interventions” to be implemented on the territory by local operators.
3 Raiano Spa Development Strategy
SPARK is one part of the whole RAIANO project. The group name is HU, and the members are Kun Xue and Jiajia Chen from China, and Oktay Alkan from Turkey.
The main objective of this project is to reactivate the existing spa of Raiano and to create a new spa identity to draw the attention of customers to Raiano. Another fundamental consideration is the development of Raiano in social, economic, cultural and tourism aspects.
3.1 Concept Generation (cross)
In the brain storming stage, all the concepts are positioned in four zones.
Classical / Wellness
Physical and mental state of the body, almost intended as “machine”. In order to function correctly, it should always go through regular maintenance services.
Classical / Medical Care
SPA medical sector focusing on the elements to strengthen the traditional aspects tied to the idea of relax, starting from the SPA treatment. e.g.: Cherry Cure
Wellness / Edge
SPA designed for the holistic wellbeing of the person, where environment, products and services end to suggest an experience. e.g.: Spa Literature, Birth Water
Medical / Edge
A sort of “clinic of the third millennium”, trying to translate traditional experience in highly innovative services and products, a sort of anticipation of future trends focusing on medical aspects. eg: Spa Network
3.2. Synthetic Description of Opportunity Area
The strategy is positioned in the area of Wellness / Edge. The purpose is to connect the existing spa center with the natural “spa” in Raiano, not only providing diffused water experience to customers, but also adding the local symbol --- cherry into the spa experience, which will definitely makes Raiano Spa distinguished from others.
Key Elements of the Opportunity Area
+Spa Literature: will bring the opportunities of different experiences into the spa, adding workshops, lectures, performance etc. according to seasons and different needs of the customers.
+Cherry Cure: a very nice idea combined with local specialty, not only creating identity to the spa of Raiano, but also bringing a new kind of spa to the public.
+Spa network: the original idea is to connect spa together with the existing medical service, put it into a network and improve the existing markets.
Players to be involved
The main players who will join and upgrade the services are: private investors of spa in Raiano, other spas in Abruzzo region, private tourism agencies, Regione Abruzzo, Abruzzo Promozione Turismo, Comune di Raiano, local people and tourists.
3.3 Development of the Strategy
The existing spa building is regarded as the headquarter ---spa center. It will be the major area where customers shall visit firstly in order to get general information about the offerings and services which have been presented not only inside the spa center, but also outside it. The spa center is designed to combine cherry, one of the important products of Raiano:
-Inside the spa, some special cherry candles are lighted in order to generate the atmosphere.
-Products made of cherry such as soaps, massage creams etc. are offered in some treatments.
-Leaves of cherry can be added in the spa pool and Jacuzzi to create exotic atmosphere.
-Cherry stone pillows are provided for relaxation.
-Cherry cure is the special offer of the spa center.
-All textile products such as uniform, towels etc. will have the image of new identity.
Some didactic activities such as workshops, lectures, even performance are taken into consideration in the spa center. These activities shall demonstrate the making of different drinks (cherry cocktails), cooks (cherry tarts).
-Tips about make-up, hair, skin care.
-Programs about diets and nutrition.
-Information about Raiano culture and custom.
The two outside spa experiences ---spaid and sparty, in different destinations can be offered to customers in the spa center.
+ Spaid: it is the area with sulphurous water which is believed to be effective for treatment and relaxation.
+ Sparty: it is the area for entertainment. Some seasonal outdoor events are organised in this natural area such as traditional games, cherry fighting, dynamic parties, local cherry festival etc.
3.4 Physical evidence
Website, Web Newsletter, Banner, Brochure, Poster, Promotion Card, Advertising
Special Stand (Tourism Agencies, Eco Markets, Medical Centers, Railway Stations Around the Area), Direction Board, Poster(Pathway & Raiano)
It was found that design education activities as experiments are a viable strategy to investigate the new design approach in local development. The design activities must be adapted to local context and be integrated with the local stakeholders. For example government, enterprises, etc are collaborative and co-design process.
1. The concept of territorial capital was developed as part of ME.Design Research and consists in all the tangible and intangible resources available on the territory. The territorial capital includes all those elements making up the wealth of the territory and aims at searching for and identifying specific features which can be promoted. It includes 5 main aspects: physical resources and their management, human resources and activities, know-how, skills and identities, forms of governance and markets, and relations with the outside world. The concept of territorial capital originates from research studies carried out within the LEADER projects, particularly in the following publication: Farrell G., Thirion S., Soto P., Champetier Y., Janot J.L., L’attuazione del progetto di sviluppo locale: I’esperienza di LEADER I.Guida metodologica per I’analisi dei bisogni locali in material di innovazione.
2. Stefano Maffei, Beatrice Villari, Project and Territory Community: An Approach to Design, Medesign_forme del Mediterraneo, Alinea Editrices s.r.l Firenze, 2004
3.POLI.DESIGN started the seventh edition of a postgraduate formative program named Master in Strategic Design. Designers who participate in this edition will be involved in the project. Participants are graduated in Architecture, Engineering and Industrial Design. In the current edition participants are 90% foreigners who come mainly from Turkey, Mexico, China, Portugal, France, etc.
4.INDACO Department, and the Research Unit MetaDesign in particular, is the research unit of the Faculty of Design of the Politecnico di Milano; it deals with research, innovation and promotion of design, both locally and nationally.
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