Design in the Wild – Participatory Designers meets community

One of the biggest highlights in the history of design in Namibia was the Participatory Design Conference held on the African continent for the first time. This was a long awaited event as it put Namibia and especially the Polytechnic of Namibia on the map with other researchers in participatory design. Gereon Koch Kapuire, Colin Stanley, Heike Winschiers-Theophilus, Shilumbe Chivuno-Kuria from the Polytechnic of Namibia, Kasper Rodil from Aalborg University and McAlbert Katjivirue from our local industry, organised a workshop as part of the conference. The title of the workshop was “Community-based co-design in Okomakuara. A contribution to design in the wild”.

The workshop ran over a whole day. The organising committee with the participants, Daniel G. Cabrero from the University of West London (United Kingdom), Judith Gregory from the University of California-Irvine (United States of America), Margot Brereton from Queensland University of Technology (Australia), Teresa Macchia from the University of Trento (Italy), Vincenzo D’Andrea from the University of Trento

(Italy), Jacob Madsen from Aalborg University (Denmark), Daniel Ploeger from the University of London (United Kingdom) departed to the village on the 4th of October 2014. Upon arrival to the village, our direct link to the community, McAlbert welcomed us all to his village. It was a busy day for the community members as it was pay day for the elders. We waited till all were paid and gathered at McAlbert’s homestead. The session started by Gereon welcoming everyone to the gathering, outlining the purpose and format of the workshop. Each organising committee, participant and elder introduced themselves to the group.

Margot started out by introducing her concept about the importance of and attachments to objects. She gave an example by using her own object which has sentimental value to her, and which connects her to her mother. She wanted to know from the elders what their important objects are. They answered one by one mentioning what is important in their lifes yet not objects. The second session was instigated by Daniel exploring wishes and future plans of community members. The community members were responding in their mother tongue Otjiherero. McAlbert did the translation as he is from the community, Gereon and Colin assisted with the translations.. After the sessions, the participants were taken around for a walk. It was a sensational trip as the participants got the opportunity to witness a real life double Herero wedding.

Leave a comment