For me, the Designmatters experience was a gift in humanity. As designers, we are sometimes so focused on what we are creating, that we forget there are actual individuals and families that we are designing for. It is one thing to know and design for an ‘end user’, but it’s another to sit across from someone in their own living room and hear their personal story. It humanizes the work we do and gives it meaning and value. You hear about these individuals’ daily routines, their aspirations, their hardships, and the motivation they use to keep moving forward every day. There is something truly inspiring about two people from completely different walks of life coming together, sharing stories, and finding common ground.
I remember when we were in Santiago, Chile for the Safe Agua Chile project, and the design students split up into small teams and spend the day with the families of the San José Campamentos (slums). At the end of the day, when we would leave the Campamentos and return back to our residence, we would be so eager to tell one another about the individuals we met, and how remarkable their stories were. All of our stories and experiences were slightly different from one another, but they all revolved around finding a connection with our Chilean counterparts. Through this experience, I believe we learned as much about ourselves as we did about our new Chilean friends.
Narbeh Dereghishian is a Los Angeles based entrepreneur and product designer. He is currently Lead User Experience Designer at Maker Studios and consults tech startups on the side. While at ArtCenter, Narbeh participated in the Designmatters Safe Agua Chile project, and along with environmental designer, Jessica Yeh, developed the award winning Ducha Halo pressurized shower system. Ducha Halo was distributed to families in Chilean slums in the days following the 2010 earthquake and additional field testing took place in Argentina and Colombia.
Help us celebrate 15 Years of Designmatters by using the hashtag #DM15Yrs
Catch up on the entire campaign at designmattersatartcenter.org/category/dm15
For the latest Designmatters news follow us on Twitter and Instagram @DesignmattersCA