(Re-)Designing for Impact | Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
(Re-)Designing for Impact

(Re-)Designing for Impact

What elements of design shape our lives? Design is often seen as the mere beautification of the world, but there are in fact five elements of design that determine the functioning of the world we live in:

  • Spatial Design
  • Systems Design
  • Product Design
  • Service Design
  • Communication Design

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Design is a forward looking exercise where we ask – what might be? Design therefore forms part of every element of our lives. How do we then impact the world through entrepreneurial, responsible design? And how can this be done in a way that will bring transformation, justice, dignity, equity and sustainability to various spheres in our country?

A relatively new field of study, biomimicry is starting to answer these questions. Biomimicry can be described as a whole new consciousness, a multidisciplinary approach to design, problem solving and most importantly to adding value.  Biomimicry means to copy life. Contrary to popular belief, it does not only copy the elements of nature, but it turns to the elements of nature to design for function and purpose. This means that we need to reframe our questions. Instead of asking for example ‘how do we build a dam’, we should be asking ‘how do we capture water?’. And why is it that palm trees survive a Tsunami and yet houses are left in a pile of rubble?

Those in the field of biomimicry will say that nothing we create is new, since nature has already found a solution to it. How we apply the learning, the design – that is new.  The deep principles of design that nature provides are the following:

  • Adapt to changing conditions
  • Be locally attuned and responsive
  • Evolve to survive
  • Use life friendly chemistry
  • Be resource efficient
  • Integrate development with growth

The Foundation believes that entrepreneurial mindset can change and impact our context – socially, politically and economically. This is a mindset that can reshape and redesign the world that we live in. We therefore cultivate entrepreneurs by exposing them to a way of thinking which could lead to them potentially redesigning their spaces, systems, products or services. It is this type of questioning that has led to the reimagination of the system of transport (Uber), living (AirBnB), information sharing (Twitter), and most significantly political life (Apartheid).

Challenges we face in the 21st Century require us to rethink the world. We moved from two billion people in 1927 to seven billion in 2011. This alone has a wave of implications to the way we work and live.  According to Frost and Sullivan the top 10 mega trends to watch for in 2025 are as follow. These require design and us applying an entrepreneurial mindset so that we shape a world which honours our children and our future:

  • Urbanization: Mega Cities, Mega Regions, Mega Corridors, Smart Cities
  • Electric-Mobility
  • Social Trends: Geo Socialization, Generation-Y and Reverse Brain Drain
  • SPACE JAM: Congested Satellite Orbits
  • World War 3: Cyber Warfare
  • RoboSlaves
  • Virtual World: Fluid Interfaces and Haptic Technology (The Science of Touch)
  • Innovating to Zero! : Zero Emission Technologies
  • Emerging Transportation Corridors
  • Health, Wellness and Well-Being

If you are working in the field of design or in any of the trends listed above, please share how you have applied design to recreate the life in which we live.

For more on biomimicry, go to Biomimicry South Africa at http://biomimicrysa.co.za



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