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Clara Young

New York, NY, United States

writer

Member since May 11, 2007


  • Do-Good Design

    Community, Industrial Design

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    When someone says, “Now, that’s the good life,” they’ve usually just sat back, put up their feet and taken their first swig of a cold beer on a sunny Friday afternoon. A good life, however, is another thing altogether, and not just grammatical hair-splitting between indefinite and definite articles. A good life can mean getting safe drinking water in Sub-Saharan Africa. Or, Kenyan girls having a homemade soccer ball to kick around. Or, a little indoor garden for senior citizens who can’t get out anymore to tend their plants.

    When Parsons The New School for Design in New York came up with the idea of "A Good Life" for their senior thesis BFA product design program in 2003, the concept was to merge ethics and design in a hands-on way. Students collaborate with not-for-profit organizations of their choosing in designing products that address the needs of the people these organizations are helping. For instance, when Romi Hefetz created her senior thesis for Doctors Without Borders in 2004, the organization needed containers that could transport safe water without risk of contamination from airborne bacteria, fatal to the region’s high percentage of HIV/AIDS-affected population. Hence, she designed a plastic stackable container called the Aqualoop, sized and shaped for women and children, and most importantly, equipped with an angled spout and special valve that attaches only to safe water sources regulated by UNICEF and the Red Cross.

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    “The goa...

  • A New Life by Design

    Community, Environmental Design

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    Probably the last thing on any steelworker’s mind when they’re being laid off is art or design. In the small town of Hällefors (population 7600) in central Sweden, which lost a major part of its steel mill to the Chinese in 1989, it was moose and pike perch that the steelworkers were thinking of when they got their walking papers. “They thought it [the lay-off] was temporary,” said Lars Wieselgren, deputy directory of Hällefors’ House of Design. “They thought they’d have a year or two off to go hunting and fishing.”

    When the Chinese came and took down the plant in 1993, Hällefors realized that they had better start thinking of something else. The redundancy list had grown to a total of 3000 people, almost one third of the town’s population then, which itself was precipitously dropping. “The municipal government realized that it was for real, and that we could lay down and die or try to do something,” says Wieselgren. The government spent a year analyzing the situation and realized the future was spelled out for them… in four Cs – Competence, Culture, Creativity, Communication. “Culture is a vector, something that carries knowledge over barriers. If you, as an individual, work through a creative process, you will feel that you have powers you were not aware of,” says Wieselgren. Since then, Hällefors has slowly transformed itself into a culture node, with design as one of its rallying points. In 1999 the municipality set up a preparatory design school, which...

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design