AUDIENCE AS CO-DESIGNER

October 18, 2009

Reading response to Audience as Co-designer: Participatory Design of HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention Posters in Kenya by Audrey Bennett, Ron Eglash, Mukkai Krishnamoorthy and Marie Rarieya. From Design Studies.

2948738677_322f9f58aeAn AIDS prevention billboard in Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded entirely by South Africa. Does the Lesotho culture relate to this AIDS prevention propaganda?

Cross-cultural design requires sensitivity, research and respect. Designing cross-culturally for a topic so massive as AIDS prevention in Africa requires even more.

A participatory workshop with Kenyan laypeople encouraged the audience to act as designer and pull from their “indigenous iconography” to successfully communicate messages of AIDS awareness and prevention to their fellow Kenyans.

I’m very interested in this idea of the designer as facilitator or consultant, and the audience as holding the reins of the whole operation.

20080000_NokiaOpenStudio_BW1-thumbAn image from Nokia’s Open studio initiative in which inhabitants of global slums were invited to draw their dream phones with materials provided by Nokia.

Some highlights of this article:

I appreciate this design team’s embrace of the “historically untapped potential to empower the audience to actively bring about change.” More design should strive to accomplish this. We do not need more design for people to passively consume, we need the opposite.

posterWhat audience is this poster for? Does it resonate with anyone?

“Since culture is an evolving phenomenon, the aesthetics used to represent it also need to evolve.”

“Clear transmittance of information occurs when the encoder shares the same culture as the decoder.”

The Kenyan co-designers in this experiment already knew “cultural codes, symbolism, narrative strategies and other effective means of visual rhetoric” that enabled them to design for their peers.

This process allowed the audience to function as designer instead of consultant, empowering them to take control over the design propaganda that affect their community, lives, and work.

germanaidsaddA German AIDS awareness campaign: would this be effective to an American audience? Or would it just freak everyone out?

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