International Design Week

International Design week showcased a plethora of events, forums and activities that put design front and centre in the minds of all participants.

It a crisp Melbourne morning and I standing in a room with 1000 primary school children. Why? I about to help educate them about design and maybe inspire the next Stefan Sagmeister or Philippe Starck.  Thankfully I with 99 other up volunteer designers, who are each paired with ten children – the next wave of champions of good design.

Young minds are fuelled with creativity and imagination, and it from this that new ideas come. Ag Ideas. Next program asked these children to imagine a better world, without the restrictions of budgets and logistics, and to come up with a solution to make it a reality. What is design? Ideas chairperson Ken Cato asks the eagerly awaiting participants. Perhaps the question should be: what isn’t design? It’s an influence a lot of who we are, what we do, and how we live our lives. From the way you decide to do your hair this morning to the graphics on your cereal box, to the car your mum drives you to school in, everything has been designed, and every detail has been considered, by someone, somewhere.

Over the next hour, each child begins to realise more and more the role that design plays in their lives, and gains an understanding of how they can influence the way things work and look. Each child is asked to identify a problem and then to think of a way design can fix that problem. From ideas that are based on helping humanity (a mouthpiece that translates languages) to ones that are just plain fun (a dog kennel that flies and gives dogs massages), there is no lack of creativity in the room. Love the idea of a design conference not just being about designers getting together and sharing ideas, but the idea that you leave a footprint of having made the community better, says Canadian artist and Ag ldeas speaker David Berman. Is a fantastic example of engaging community and raising design awareness. There so much possibility. If we can raise a generation of kids that know how to think like designers, it increases the chances of us finding a way out of this fragile state that we are in.

Of course, Next is only one of the events that took place during ideas 2012 International Design Week, a movement now 22 years old that has become one of the world largest and longest running design events. This year offering marked the milestone of its 500th speaker to a 2500 strong audience across the three-day international design forum. It’s my third year attending the design conference, listening to the speakers sharing their insights and experiences and celebrating the differences in the design.

So what exactly is the success of agldeas? Sure it hinged around the three-day forum; a balancing act of design rockstars and obscure, unknown talents, but it more than that. It a speaker list that sees a milliner you never heard of before presenting next to a landscape architect you been I do lising since you were at university next to an interactive designer years ahead of her time. It’s a week that engages over 12,000 people: artists seeking inspiration, businesses looking to embrace design as an economic driver and design researchers sharing knowledge. It a not-for-profit event and a real labour of love for Cato and his team at Design Foundation, who promote the value of design and encourage the celebration of design excellence. Here to another 22 years.

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