Every year WDCD chooses several topics to discuss during the event in May. This year’s programme is grouped around the themes cultural consciousness, humanity, urban issues and the senses. More details are found on the event site, but here’re the outlines.
What Design Can Do for Cultural Consciousness
A recurring theme at What Design Can Do is how designers boost cultural awareness among people in their own country, in order to counter the trend towards international uniformity. Designers see the beauty and value of authentic cultural expression and succeed in highlighting that in their work. Often they manage to breathe new life into crafts and techniques in danger of disappearing.
The programme includes contributions to this theme from Alejandro Magallanes, Mass Studio, Francis Kéré, Campana Brothers and Alex Atala.
What Design Can Do for Humanity
With over 50 million refugees across the globe, never before has the world been home to so many displaced people. The figures from the UNHCR refugee agency include refugees, asylum seekers and people who are displaced within the borders of their own country. Roughly half of all refugees are children. Designers everywhere are stimulated by the staggering figures and wicked questions of displacement to use their skills and come up with ideas, products and services to ease the needs of so many. This theme is currently reseached in collaboration with The Future Department at Utrecht University of the Arts (HKU). What Design Can Do will focus on the power of design for humanity.
The programme includes contributions related to this theme from Michael Johnson, Ikea Foundation, Refugee Republic, Mass Studio, Frances Kéré.
What Design Can Do for Urban Issues
With now already half of the world population living in cities – a figure that will be growing even further over the next decades, it is obvious that everywhere in the world urban societies will have to cope with a growing amount of pressing issues. Issues in the field of housing, mobility, food supply, care, air pollution and energy supply. But something like the issue of growing tourism asks for smart solutions too.
Such solutions do pop up. The combination of emerging technologies and creative minds already has led to many game changing innovations including Airbnb and UberPOP. There is much more to come: living buildings, self-driving cars, drone delivery, urban food production. What can design do to keep things livable?
The programme includes contributions to this theme from Ole Scheeren, Steve Rura, Césare Peeren, Stephan Sagmeister
What Design Can Do for the Senses
Humans are fitted with five senses, or six, some people claim. Even so, sight is the dominant sense in our world, and certainly in design. Consequently, the other senses receive less attention and people are less aware of their influence. In short, it’s time to open up all our senses and to hear, smell, taste and feel how creative figures in various fields stir our senses and, especially, what they achieve in the process.
The programme includes contributions related to this theme from Alex Atala, Bompass & Parr, Paul Hekkert, Charles Spence and Sissel Tolaas.