15 Years of Faculty Engagement: Javier Palomares

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Javier Palomares April 22, 2016

If there is life there is hope…

Javier-Palomares_2rtGoing back to Colombia for the Fall 2013 Designmatters Safe Agua Colombia project got me very excited: it would be an incredible opportunity to work on a social impact project in my home country. Reality is, it exceeded any expectation that I would have ever imagined.

At first I was emotionally torn apart by seeing extreme living conditions that reveal how fragile the human condition could be: mentally, spiritually and physically. Is this a life worth living?

Luckily, I found the answer: Yes, IT IS. I saw first- hand how design could be a very powerful tool that unifies us regardless of our background, socioeconomics, language or religion. It was amazing to experience how the community from Altos del Pino, with whom we collaborated, stands up and keeps on fighting against hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and exploitation with courage and a positive attitude, a lesson that changed me and how I see and value life, family and society.

Working hand-in-hand with ArtCenter students and Altos del Pino families brought to reality small but significant proposals for products and services that can have a positive impact and make a difference to the everyday life of this community. I experienced how a co-creative approach to design could play a huge role in developing creative solutions, ranging from problem solving and ideation to prototyping and field-testing.

Throughout the term, it was crucial to quickly establish tight relationships with families to fully explore, understand and engage in the design process. Our student teams incorporated insights that allow them to develop innovative, practical and affordable solutions to particular needs.

By the end of the term, we had had the opportunity to return to Altos de Pino twice to test, iterate and improve on proposed solutions together. This allowed us to not only make our designs stronger, but also build on our relationships.

I’m grateful for the opportunity that Designmatters gave me to work with great faculty and students on this transformative project. It has allowed me to learn invaluable lessons from my now extended family in Colombia.


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