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Storytelling as a driver for policy developments

Format: Papers, RSD6, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Hilde Opoku and Kristin Støren Wigum

Participatory design
Awareness for Change
System Oriented Design

The world situation today calls for new holistic approaches towards questions concerning the relation between human equality and maintenance of natural ecosystems that have fundamental consequences for further development of our global civilization (Meadows et al. 1972, 1992)(Hylland-Eriksen, 2014). This paper will discuss how global oriented art and artists can be a catalyst of value changes, through local experiences and storytelling. Does art play a role in the shaping of politics and future systems design? Storytelling is a common goal and tool of the different professions mentioned. However, what stories do we want to tell, how can we become able hearing them, and where do the stories come from?

Our western life style permeated by consumerism, has become global. Rituals, rhythms of the day, holidays, and activities in our spare time have become costly affairs. Designers have used their skills together with production companies and advertising industry, to give shape to everyday things as trendy products that must be exchanged regularly. Status is not what you have as such, but having the right product at the right time (Dokk-Holm, 2001). The ideal designer working for a non-profit cause is rare. However, lately designers who are working in the intersection of art, architecture and design, have introduced the values of arts and crafts modernised by artistic methods and storytelling. Expression of local identity is shown through choices of local (raw)material and crafting methods. Slowly new – more sustainable solutions – seem to be emerging.

Some important distinctions between a piece of art work and a designed product, are the designers focus on functionality, user perspectives, and criteria for mass production in an economic efficient way for a certain market, whereas the artists use their own experiences, perceptions of society and context in life to emphasize what they find important and valuable to visualise and talk about.

It may seem as design education in Scandinavia and Europe is returning to more original organisational structures that bring design, art and architecture closer together, as intended described by the Bauhaus educational concept (Findeli, 1995). What potential has this constellation in context of wicked problems, related to social, ecological and economic sustainability, and globalisation of production and local place development to day? What values do artists bring into public debates of place development, or political decision making in general, promoting democratic processes?

Participatory design is seen as crucial for successful design especially within service design. Dialogue and feedback from users of the new solutions is guiding the design team towards more appropriate concepts (Hannevig, Parker 2012). Artwork and art performance has its purpose to effect the audience. Often the viewer is meant to participate for a personal experience. New research is exploring more extensively the participation in material-based art work (Berg 2014). Berg points to the need of certain skills in order to reach the potential of public participation of art processes, such as how art may bring in a transformative social force to a place.

This paper will explore the voice and force of artistic work and process as important channel for democratic change and contribution to new forceful stories for policy-making, awareness and inspiration for design for sustainable life-styles and society. The paper compares the works and approaches from an artist who has crossed the disciplines from design to art, emphasizing our manifold of resources, and an artist who tells the stories of products imported to his country Ghana, from Europe and industrialised cultures and how they now are literally woven into his daily surroundings.

In a globalized communication structure we are now able to hear and see voices from all the continents and it is not necessarily pleasant stories that reach our own everyday life from abroad. How may this have an effect on new politics in Norway for sustainability? Through system oriented design methodology (Sevaldson et al, 2014) we look at the impact of contemporary artists on the conceptualization of product impact on culture, ecology and democracy.

Berg, Arild. (2014). Artistic Research in Public Space, Participation in Material-based Art. Aalto University publication series, Doctoral dissertation 33/2014. Finland, Helsinki: Unigrafia. ISBN-978-952-60-5601-2

Dokk-Holm, Erling og Siri Meyer (red). (2001). Varene tar makten (trans. Eng. The commodities overtake the power). Gyldendal Norsk Forlag. Gjøvik: AIT Gjøvik AS.

Findeli, Alain. (1995). “Moholy-Nagy’s Design Pedagogy in Chicago (1937-46)” , p.29-43, Margolin, Victor (editor). The Idea of design. Cambridge, Mass., USA: MIT Press.

Hannevig, Lise and Marjorie Parker. (2012). Dialog. En praktisk veilder. (In Norwegian only. transl. Eng.: Dialouge. A guidebook for practice.) Finland, Porvoo: Bookwell OY. ISBN 978-82-92773-50-5

Hylland Eriksen, Thomas. (2014). Globalization: The Key Concepts. (Second edition) Bloomsbury. London /(Norwegian: 2008) Globalisering: Åtte nøkkelbegreper.

Meadows, Donna, Dennis Meadows and Jørgen Randers.(1972).The Limits to growth. USA: Universe Books. ISBN 0-87663-165-0

Meadows, Donna, Dennis Meadows and Jørgen Randers. (1992). Beyond the limits. Confronting Global Collapse. Envisioning a Sustainable Future. USA: Chelsea Green Publishing. ISBN- 0-930031-62-8

Sevaldson B., Ryan A. Eds. (2014) Relating Systems Thinking and Design 1. Practical Advances in Systemic design, Formakademisk Vol 7, No 3, Oslo

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Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2017
Title: Storytelling as a driver for policy developments
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
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First published: 12 October 2017
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