• Maputo Transport Project

    June 4, 2009 // Comments Off on Maputo Transport Project

    vefsida1The project for Maputo transport that Soley is running in ENAV is, in my opinion developing really well. Especially in the perspective of the previous experience in visual communication projects the students have done. It seems that the students have good basic skills in fundamental art or drawing. There has of course been very little access to computers and they have had no access to the internet until these months when Soley has managed to push for a hub and networking all the FOUR computers in the media lab. The students are all starting first time email accounts and social networking that is so important to designers today. The students have no experience of using the sketchbook (as has been blogged earlier) for research and self reflection; no experience in field surveying and photography etc. They also have had very little teaching in the conceptualizing of  a problem out of a current situation. But it has been great to listen to their arguments in the studio, all talking at the same time, many referring to their personal experiences (what is better for a designer to understand than through own life?) and to how ‘the public’ does not use or refer to concepts, just lives. I am of the opinion that we all ‘just live’ and do not think so much about our everyday. Especially the everyday, i.e. what is happening to us while we are living. Like John Lennon said: ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy doing other things!’


    Now, the students have really managed to define the problems that they are facing and they have defined the tasks that they can address properly as visual communicators. Of course they are not required to go into town planning or transport engineering, but to concentrate on the visual communicative aspet of the issues. They are this week working on defining and finding the most significant symbol for the main locations (stops) in the city on  the specific routes where the chappas drive through. The chappas do not really have ‘bus stops’ they stop anywhere  when there is a potential customer walking by. This is of course great because the service is so much more personal and in a way analogous as opposed to preconditioned engineered programs that nobody is allowed to divert from (like a tram driver letting in a passenger where there is not a stop in most Western cities.


    Last Friday the groups had presentations of their findings so far and I was properly impressed. Now I wait eagerly for what will happen this week. The students are now really on their home turf, meaning in their own routes, and in their own culture and within their own competence, to illustrate a situation or to collect a location and concept into a demonstrative visual image. The difference to the tradition of just making an other logo (something that is really falling out of date) but to illustrate a proper point in their life.


    More later, but I have borrowed some images from the presentations and activities of the last weeks.



    Posted in DORI BLOG, Soley work in ENAV

    Illustrator Course in ENAV

    May 16, 2009 // Comments Off on Illustrator Course in ENAV

    Soley takes a Saturday to run a workshop in Illustrator. The students are hungry for more knowledge in software and there is scarcely time during the week. She ran two workshops this Saturday.



    Posted in DogS ACTIVITIES, Soley work in ENAV

    Transport Design/Service Design

    // 1 Comment »


    Evangelican service designers talk like they have invented something new. I really do not care if people think they have invented the wheel again if it works and they are happy. But military planners, society builders, philosophers and architects (sometimes all in one and the same person) have been planning services and social solutions for as long as society has existed. There have been techniques, rules, solutions and problems that we had to learn about while studying architecture. Some successful and unfortunately many bad cases of social problem solving that has resulted in more disaster than was foreseen. My upbringing in architecture and design happened in one such historical moment when we attacked Modernism as the dogma of our forefathers and decided to address context again and named it Post-Modernism.


    All this is fine and why do I divulge into my past? Because I am interested in service design as a way of contextualizing design problem solving. To move design away from the formalistic laboratory of the design (school)  studio to the ethnographical contextualization of design problems. In that light, service design (can also call it social design) is architectural design, communication design, interaction design etc. The visual communication design students in ENAV here in Maputo have been given the task by Soley to create a tool that will explain to the Maputo citizens how the public transport system works. This has to be explained somewhat further.


    Most of public transport here in Maputo is run by very entrepreneurial young men in small vans named Chappas. These are predominately second hand (actually 8th hand) Toyota HiAce vans that would not pass a control test on other continents. The cars, made for maximum 8-9 people transport up to 25 people at the time, each passenger paying a 5 meticas (ca 0,15 dollars) per trip. Since this public service is a private enterprise they race each other to pick up the most number of passengers (trying to overtake each other), and the routes they take are really only known to the driver who most often has installed a super, super active sound system with huge base boxes and the Marabenta Drum and Base runs to cover the noice of the falling apart car. There is also a semi-public driven bus service that is slow and unreliable and needs not be explained here.


    Since we came to Maputo I have gone through the experience to take the chappas, sometimes for specific transport and also to gain experience of this public service. There is no way to understand how the system works, one just has to jump aboard, read the name-sticker on the car and hope it passes close to where one is going. Of course not speaking the local language yet does not help. We have also realized that flat maps that we Western people are used to are not common and many friends have difficulty in using them, relying rather on landmarks and mental mapping systems that are more linked to visual and experiencial memory rather than to a Cartesian grid system.


    The students are to come with proposals that serve the local public and visitors to the city so that it is possible to understand clearly and use the transport system effectively. There are of course many famous such system in the world, maybe the best known the London Underground Map designed by Harry Beck, actually an engineering draftsman, and the Paris Metro profile including the stations designed by Hector Guimard.


    The task for the students I have seen as fourfold primarily.

    a) to simplify the everyday (efficiency)

    b) to create a collective profile for the whole service and unifying element for the city

    c) to divulge information clear and fast

    d) to make the mundane more ejoyable


    Friday May 15th was the first presentation by the students of the research group work. The research is more complicated than in the normal Western design school since the information is not available through Google, but the students had to do more ethnographical work on their own every day, relating directly in themselves to the current problems and issues that could be addressed. The discussion during the presentations was actually much more about social engineering than graphic design. That was very stimulating and the teachers made some very good comments to the students about such issues. I saw a realization that graphic designers can be fundamental in social engineering and political motivation. This is good for young design students and for the school environment that is mostly arts and crafts orientated and not with proper design entrepreneurial perspective.

    So, is the project a service design project? Dealing with logistics and processes? Using people as prototypes for checking social engineering? In my opinion it is although the project is just a simple graphic design school project. It is a project that is fundamental to society here in Africa, while much of graphic design understanding is more geared towards advertizing campaigns and posters for commercial enterprises. More news later when the project unfolds, but we are discussing now how to continue over the next weeks. All suggestions thankfully received.



    Posted in DORI BLOG, Soley work in ENAV

    Our Office in Maputo

    April 29, 2009 // No Comments »


    We have settled fairly well in Maputo now. We have a flat in the dead center of town, very close to ENAV, the school that Soley works in. This means we walk back and forth all the time for practical things. We work a lot at home, having set up contacts and a table on the balcony so that one of us can sit there and the other at this desk that Alexander and his mates made for us out of the local straw (palha). Soley also has tutorials with the final year students here at home, which makes work easier for her not waiting and some not turning up.

    Now, we have got better internet after changing the service provider and our wireless from Oslo works quite well. So, this picture shows our present office, where we work on the macs for our various projects. Anything from social operations through design, bookmaking and to arhitectural projections. The capulana on the white wall is there to give the modernistic white flat some colour, we also painted one wall blue to give us some backdrop, the fan is installed to make life bearable some days.

    All in all, this is a fine office space without any comforts of modern office furniture. It might not treat our bodies well, but then we just have to remember to stand up often enough.


    Posted in DORI BLOG

    Corporate Identity

    April 9, 2009 // No Comments »



    The first course of my class in ENAV has been to design a Corporate Identity. I asked the students to pick a company that they knew and liked, either a company that has an identity that they don’t like and wanted to change or a new company that does not have any identity and they should create it. Because I don’t know the companies here or the culture I thought it would be good that in the beginning we would run a project where they know the subject well so it would be possible this time to leave out the deep research work about the company. That usually is a very important part of designing a corporate identity. I had two reasons for this: We did not have an internet connection in the first weeks and now we only have one computer that is connected to the internet. I am working hard on getting one more connected. Secondly, I do not yet have the language to discuss in depth but am able to use the pencil and other ways to advice or guide them.
    It took a while in the beginning to get the students to understand me but now I think it has gone quite well, they have selected various companies and the classes are enjoyable. 
    We only have 4 computers for 14 students and most of the students do not have a computer at home. They have to take turns to sit at the computers so their computer time is very limited.  Now, I am working on getting five new ones and hope that will go through soon. In the meantime I have taken a break in the corporate identity project and am running a sketchbook course on methodologies in creativity.


    Posted in SOLEY BLOG, Soley work in ENAV

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