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'Hi/Stories of Change Exhibition’ confronts cultural marginalization in design

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How does design reproduce the norms and prejudices that we carry? During an exhibition at Västerbottens Museum, students of the Master's Programme in Interaction Design present different ways of incorporating diverse and marginalized cultures in design processes.

The exhibition, which runs from March 23-28, came from a partnership between UID, Svenska Samernas Riksförbund and Sami Duodji. It will house three different interactive stations that aim to challenge visitors to confront their own prejudices and step into the shoes of marginalized cultural groups in society.

Pathlayout Kopia

Nicholas Torretta, PhD candidate at UID, is responsible for developing the course.

"It has been a transformative process for our students, I believe. They were confronted with various issues around sustainability, diversity, colonialism and violence. Sometimes they were struggling, to be honest. Once you realize the consequences that an unaware design action can create in society it can be hard to reestablish a clear voice and position. But it is exactly this that is the point of the course, to reflect on these issues".

What can people expect going to the exhibition? 

"Visitors can expect to have an experience that forces reflection on who we are and what our position in society is. Visitors will be able to interact with three different stations, each posing a different question and asking for a different type of input. And so, the visitors can expect to contribute to continue to build on the existing exhibition."

Prototyping Kopia

Why do you believe it's important to carry out projects like this within a design education?

"In an ever increasing connected and globalized world, we as designers must know how we impact our surrounding society and society at large. Courses like this one are important for designers to realize that their worldview as designers is situated in a specific culture and time. By realizing our actual position within the a westernized and capitalist worldview, we can start a critical and reflective process about where we stand, and where we would like to stand in relation to diverse cultures that are being suppressed my modern colonialism. From this vantage point, we can ask what kind of designers we want to be if we are to support the quest for a sustainable society across cultures?"

What are the three interactive stations that will be presented at the exhibition? 

"One is a collaborative carpet weaving station. It asks the visitors to organize in order of importance some aspects that can help define identity. The visitor then organizes the aspects and add them to a big loom where her/his idea of identity gets weaved into the responses from other visitors. I think this is a nice example of the "diverse social fabric" we live in, where diversity combines to create a whole."

Loombuildin Kopia

"Another uses phones and a switch board. This station highlights the lack of voice and control that one may have by being part of an oppressed group in society. At this station, the visitor can hear different conversations on the phone by switching plugs on a switch board and also answer different phone call that demands the visitor to do something while not giving the visitor the ability to talk back. It is an effective display that gives insight into the experience of the oppressed."

"The final station deals with pathways. It utilizes an interactive map which traces the interconnection of various aspects constituting culture and identity. Each node of the map provides either a short story or a question related to identity and conflict."

For more info on the exhibition, click here