D4D Social Design Initiative: Msambweni, Kenya

Robin Reed, a specialist in participatory design with years of experience working with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, worked for two local community based non-profit organizations, over a period of six weeks to refine the skills and products produced by local craft producers. The result was the creation of a collaborative group know as the Tsongo Women's Group, (which means Weaver Birds in Swahili). A new identity for the women's group and prototypes will be ready for display and sales at the Ngalawa Regatta to be held in Diani, December, 2014. Through D4D, Robin has also engaged students in the USA in the design process to create identities and outreach materials for a number of groups in the area. This project is ongoing...

Adding Value Community Based Crafts Production 
Gazi Women's Handy Craft Group: 1 of 6 women's groups that were engaged in design training led by design consultant Robin Reed, using a "Participatory Design" approach to build capacity in the field and add value to products openning new markets and socioeconomic opportunities. 
Wasini Women's Handy Craft Group: Women share the Swahili art of "Ukili" a traditional form of braiding using palm leaves. 
Ganja La Simba Women's Group: After the first week workshop, women were asked to design and produce a product using their finest weaving skills and explain the usability and desirability of the artefact. This is a coconut sieve that has been adapted for further product development. The art and meaning of the brightly colored Kanga was also discussed as a form of visual communication.
D4D Fieldwork: Drawing symbols and using what is at hand in a remote rural village in Kenya to explain the basics of visual communications, when language can be a barrier and technology is not available.
D4D Fieldwork: Defining local culture as part of product development.
D4D Fieldwork: Establishing an identity and value for product development.
Jana Si Leo Women's Group: Creating a collaborative group of women  willing to work together as part of the Tsongo Women's Craft Initiative.
D4D Fieldwork: Understanding indigenous crafts and skills led to identifying patterns.
D4D Fieldwork: Refining product prototypes and creating cultural asscociations for further product development.
D4D Fieldwork: Evaluating product quality, patterns, colors and craftsmanship.
D4D Fieldwork: Refining weaving techniques and developing prototypes and samples for consumer testing.
D4D Fieldwork: Encouraging youth and bridging gender differences while explaining pattern and product development. 
D4D Fieldwork: Encouraging young artisans to become "design thinkers" is part of the challenge of creating opportunity and hope for their future. 
D4D Fieldwork: The male weaver bird, an indigenous species to the south coast of Kenya, constantly weaves nests for the approval of the female.
D4D Fieldwork: The name of the bird in Swahili is "Tsongo", which is the new identity adopted by the Community-based Women's Craft Initiative, sponsored by the South Coast Conservation and Ecotourism Association. A logo and brand is now being developed as part of a Participatory Design effort, which includes students at the Ohio State University.
D4D Fieldwork: Embedding meaning and cultural value into product development.
D4D Fieldwork: Prototypes and deatils refined.
D4D Fieldwork: Floor mats are evaluated.
D4D Fieldwork: Ideation using local means is part of the training process and this is best shared over food!
D4D Fieldwork: A Participatory Design approach to product development implies learning & making together.
D4D Fieldwork: Participatory Design, implies inclusion, sustainability and hope for generations to come. Children from the village of Ganja La Simba share a beautifully crafted ladle made from a coconut, which they used to serve me delicious fish stew their mothers had preapred. Part of an amazing design experience.
D4D Fieldwork: Research and visual ethnography is one of the methods used for developing design solutions for underserved popoulations. A young child uses my camera to photograph his mother who was preapring food for us. He was amazed with the result and wanted me to be sure to share it. 
D4D Fieldwork: Understanding the materials and processes for developing product begins with green!
D4D Project Development: New visual identity created for the Tsongo women's group in collaboration with students of Design at The Ohio State University.
D4D Project Development: 2016 Poster launches the new visual identity, while connecting the women to a fund raising event at the annual Ngalawa Regatta.
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