Eleven design teams today present the projects they submitted to No Minor Thing, the What Design Can Do challenge to combat sexual exploitation of children at the Innovation Congress of the Ministry of Justice and Security. How did they experience their participation?
‘What caught us by surprise most is how much sexual exploitation occurs in the Netherlands,’ said the team of design agency Fabrique that came up with the project Exposed – SHOOW. ‘We really had no idea. The naive notion that this type of situation only occurs in distant countries was demolished on day 1 of the challenge. Throughout the project, we focused on sexting. Again, we had no idea how much this is going on.’
The teams that joined the No Minor Thing challenge all answered a few questions on their experiences. Joining the challenge opened a lot of eyes, the designers confessed. The team of communications agency Dawn, the creators of the #Safesexting campaign, expressed their surprise saying: ‘A conversation with someone from the Justice Ministry was the most surprising moment. She told us that the phenomenon of sexting [among minors] is illegal. Even when no bad intentions exist. This means that legally speaking, children forwarding a sexually oriented photo are involved in child pornography trade. Whether they are aware of this or not, is irrelevant.’
Intense but interesting
The teams were pleased with the extensive research and preparations for this challenge. ‘Grouping together the input made it possible to kick-start our ideation process almost immediately and go through several iterations in a short period of time. It was an intense but also very interesting and educational process,’ the team of Design for Humanity that entered Youth or Dare told. And the team behind No Place for Sex Trafficking from Studio What The stated: ‘We are glad that the assignment has been taken so seriously by WDCD and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, who have been really supportive and proactive by providing us with their knowledge and network. Without their participation our project would be more of a utopia, and now there are chances that it actually becomes real.’
The team from Reframing Studio, creators of Sapp’g! mentioned their appreciation of the collaborative spirit in this project: ‘It was exciting and new for us to openly share our concept development with other design studios. The effect of the relaxed mutual dialogues and information exchange was that new insights emerged and we sharpened each other’s concepts.’
‘We are the dreamers’
All participants are convinced that design can make a significant contribution to complex social issues like in this case the sexual exploitation of children. The Studio What The team said it nicely, after acknowledging that experts already are doing a great job in fighting this issue. ‘Designers don’t need to become the experts,’ they say, ‘but we are the dreamers, the ones who can help to think bigger, to communicate better and to make the findings of experts accessible for more people.’
And the Waarmakers team that submitted Pulse adds: ‘Designers use methods and tools to put problems into new perspectives. To view the system as a whole from a different perspective. Designers possess the skills to communicate and quickly test this new perspective.’
Determined to continue
In the three months the teams worked on their projects they’ve become pretty dedicated to the issue and all are determined to continue their work, provided that appropriate funding is found. As the Design for Humanity team that worked on Private Parts phrased it: ‘We are definitely planning to continue the project after the challenge. We believe that anyone can benefit from expanding their erotic intelligence so we see many opportunities in that respect. It would be ideal to start at a young age, especially if we can include themes that will help arm our youth against sexual exploitation.’
To see all the projects and the teams’ experiences with this challenge, go to the No Minor Thing page on this website.