'On Our Doorsteps' - Local Design Activism.
Coinciding with the commencement of the ‘Localism’ legislation, this exhibition and digital map presents contemporary design’s reengagement with ‘local’ as a means to forge meaningful and valued contributions to society, the economy and the environment.
The project started as a study module for final year undergraduate design and craft students to facilitate new collaborations with a range of partners from the neighbouring city and as a means to teach the methodological distinctions and richness brought through collaboration and working in specific local contexts. With the furthering of research into 'local' as a specific context for contemporary designers, it has grown and presents the work of leading international designers and companies who are positively activating change through their products, methods, ideas and ideals. It is intended that the concept of the exhibition can explore different localities and curating new methodological approaches and interpretations of 'local' in different localities, helping to showcase and signpost a direction for active and resilient design practice.
Having exhibited work in the 'local', Brighton context at the new Brighton and Hove Community Stadium, London became the next context. In September 2012 On Our Doorsteps was invited to participate in London Design Festival and received sponsorship from Media 10 and 100% Design Earls Court. This being the UK's largest design event with an audience of over 25,000 international visitors, we were able to curate a new body of work from across London and the UK. This included new work from Max Lamb and Dominic Wilcox and the launch of the ‘Farmers Market’ training shoe from New Balance. The show featured in international ICON magazine and Core 77 and engaged with representatives from numerous international design events, educational institutions and development councils – invitations to re-curate On Our Doorsteps in Serbia, Portugal, Korea and India.
Local’ has re-emerged in creative practice and industry as a cutting edge method that contemporary practitioners, companies and even governments are reimagining and utilising as a rich resource for both creative sustenance and social, political and environmental benefit and resilience building. ‘Local’ no longer negatively means narrow or closed, but celebrates diversity, plurality and inclusivity through cosmopolitan connectivity - ‘design activism’ is not about protesting but applying effective design and actioning practical, positive change. Against a context of unprecedented social, economic and environmental pressure and rebalancing, modern creatives are activating change in impactful and viral ways through a more direct relationship to cultures, communities and resources that exist within identifiable, localities. This more critical and reflective process has revealed a continued, desire to form resonant value and meaning by ‘making a difference,’ but less through dictation and more through collaboration and participation, using more intimate and open-networks and from democratised manufacturing and materials loaded with provenance and authenticity as opposed to injection moulded-hollow homogeny.