Design Helps Living Room Helsinki 2012

June 25th – July 29th 2012 Eteläesplanadi 20, Helsinki


Design Helps LIVING ROOM is organised by Tikau Share, a Finnish-registered NGO that supports sustainable development and empowerment in a number of poor Indian villages.

The idea of Design Helps is to generate ideas on the ways that design can bring about wellbeing. The focus of the exhibition is on the theme of design that nurtures sustainable employment as well as on design cases for the necessary infrastructure. The Living Room acts as a meeting place for everyone interested in design that helps by creating sustainable employment and livelihood. It provides an interactive space that presents design challenges while inviting visitors to participate in suggesting solutions.

The idea of Design Helps is to generate ideas on the ways that design can bring about wellbeing.

The Living Room also serves as a venue for various events and is enlivened by its design café as well as its exhibition and seminar space. The exhibition showcases the products of design collaboration work by way of documentary video, photographs and finished products.

Living Room acts as a forum for dialogue between sustainable development and design, as well as an engine for discussion on opportunities for globally responsible cooperation between different fields and sectors.

Living Room also supports the realization of a unique cooperation project. This combines Tikau Share’s concept of design that supports development with Ukumbi’s Finnish designs for sustainable architecture. The aim of the project is to build a Community Centre in a Dalit 
village in the Indian state of Orissa. The building will function as an activity centre owned by 
the villagers and will include training programmes, a school for children, storage, kitchen gardens, a shelter for the elderly, and a small internet kiosk enabling extra income for the villagers.

Our long-term goal is to help the local community fight poverty by means of schooling, sustainable employment and empowerment through development cooperation.



MIFUKO OY – Finnish design, African vibrancy

We employ talented Kenyan artisans and provide them with regular income. We keep our relationships personal and don’t aim to mass produce. Beyond giving the designs a Scandinavian twist, we try not to interfere with the creativity and techniques of our chosen artisans, many of whom we now know as friends too. Mifuko Ltd was founded by Minna Impiö and Mari Martikainen in 2009. Both are graduates of the University of Industrial Arts and Design, Helsinki. Minna has lived in Kenya for four years, where she sources new design ideas and visits the workshops regularly, while Mari is based in Helsinki and ensures that the designs and finishes meet European expectations and tastes.

Mifuko works on a Helsinki-Nairobi-axis. While the designs are done by Finnish artists they are inspired by the colours, textures and vibrancy of Africa. Every product is designed in such a way as to utilize traditional craftsmanship and available materials. Mari and Minna know almost all the Mifuko artisans by name, and hope to employ more and more Kenyans, offering them a regular income and good working conditions.

TIKAU SHARE RY & UKUMBI RY – creating a village community hub

Development projects in India carried out by the Finnish-based NGO Tikau Share combine the principles of sustainable development and support for small businesses. Various projects aim to achieve permanent improvement of the quality of life in India’s poor rural areas, where help is most needed. The NGO sees design expertise as an innovative tool for helping and creating global wealth.

The socially isolated Dalit village in the state of Odisha is one of the poorest villages in India. Tikau Share has been working in this village for three years doing relief work and developing training programmes to teach villagers local crafts.

Tikau Share and the Design Helps LIVING ROOM event are raising funds for a project that aims to build a village house or community centre provided by another Finnish NGO, Ukumbi. The Centre will provide training and school facilities, a shelter for the elderly and a base for health care, as well as features such as an internet kiosk that villagers can use to support income generation.

Ukumbi’s architectural projects are ecologically sustainable. It uses locally manufactured, recycled or grown building materials whenever possible and strive to have a low carbon footprint.

PEEPOOPLE – Swedish innovation for basic needs

Today, more 1 billion people live in urban slums. This figure has increased from 715 million in 1990, and is expected to double by 2020. In informal settlements, water, electricity and sanitation are scarce and infrastructure is not keeping up as populations expand.

Available for purchase by the end-customer as a home toilet that can be used day or night, Peepoo offers an option to dirty, overfull latrines or defecating in public. The dignity and safety it provides, foremost to women and children, goes beyond basic sanitation.

The development of Peepoo directly addresses the fact that more than 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation. At this very moment in time, 40 out of every 100 people in the world do not have their own toilet. In order to re-think sanitation, the Peepoople founding team started at the source. This meant preventing disease transmission as early as possible through rapid inactivation of pathogens immediately after defecation.

Those who need sanitation the most are often the ones who can afford it the least. Therefore, there is no other choice than to use whatever is available. With the introduction of Peepoo we have increased choice by offering an innovative, low-cost product, which can rapidly change demand patterns among those with very limited means. Choice is also linked to dignity and status – important factors behind the decision for people living at the bottom of the economic pyramid to invest in a toilet.

BIOLAN OY – sustainable cultivation

Biolan manufactures and sells products for ecological farming and green area management as well as environmental products. The company has its own production facilities in Finland, Estonia and China. Biolan emphasizes lasting values and ecology in all its activities. Product development is a continuing process and quality assurance is systematic. Our activities are sustainable. We operate in an environmentally and ethically acceptable manner in our own business area. We minimise and measure the key environmental impacts of our activities. When it comes to our stakeholders, we apply the same principle as in our own operations.

By thinking about the well-being of our personnel and using our know-how wisely, we successfully develop, manufacture and – focusing on customer needs – profitably market high-quality products for cultivation and for the environment, which reduce the environmental load caused by mankind.

TIKAU SHARE & TIKAU – a shaft of light between Finland and India

Mahatma Gandhi called the Untouchables at the lowest level of the caste system “Harijan” – Children of God. He used this name to dignify those who were trapped at the lowest level of Indian society. Another word for the Untouchables is Dalit, meaning crushed or broken.

The aid programme in a Dalit village in the Indian state of Odisha began in summer 2010 as part of Tikau Share’s development programme, based on sustainable employment. In winter 2010–11, 36 Dalit handicraft artisans from the poorest families in the village participated in the first training programme. The aim of the programme was to support self-sufficiency in work and income for families in the long term. For many Dalits, the ability to work independently and close to their homes is an important factor in improving quality of life, not just financially but also from the point of view of self-respect and social dignity.

Tikau Share, a Finnish-based NGO, carries out sustainable development activities which embrace employment programs, health care, education, housing and a variety of projects which aim to improve the living conditions of the Dalit villagers, as well as other poor villagers in rural India. Help is needed in basic health care, eliminating malnutrition, providing stable livelihoods, education and cultivation.

The Tikau Lights series draws on Finnish design to support this Dalit village society. The lighting has been designed by Finnish designer Ilkka Suppanen and it is produced in cooperation with the Tikau company in Finland. The main element of the lamp is made from basketware produced by the village artisans and hand-woven from local bamboo.

EARTH HOUSE – agile construction

Earth House Systems are a Finnish company targeted at the needs of humanitarian organizations, relief and peace keeping tasks, governments and companies with Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. It is for those who need to solve housing problems in developing countries and after catastrophes.

Our product is an ecological, safer alternative for tents and disposable temporary first aid and transitional shelters. It connects all needed local building materials and equipment. Unlike most building structures, EHS can be erected without special tools or professional work force, and it can be mass-produced locally at a low cost. EHS products are upgradable, reusable, re-sellable, and they have seismic resistance.

The average size of an Earth House is 40 square metres and its cost is between 1,300 and 1,800 euros per unit. Sustainability, continued improvement and compassion are the core values of Earth House.

INDIAN CLOTHING INDUSTRY – a design challenge

In the vicinity of a factory in Odisha in India, trees and buildings are covered with a veil of dust. Small dust particles can penetrate clothing everywhere and breathing in these areas becomes difficult. The young men employed in these factories suffer from severe respiratory and other health problems.

This factory is one of the places where 15 per cent of the cutting waste from the clothing industry ends up, and this is where the waste is shredded to form filling for mattresses. As a result of the short life cycle of products and fast-changing trends, the clothing industry generates a huge amount of cutting waste, from which mountains of cuttings are formed in the Kolkata area of India.

As trends move on, this cutting waste will not disappear. Our Design Challenge asks LIVING ROOM visitors to think about how the design in the garment industry might solve the waste problem. How can the product life cycle be maximized, and is it possible to come up with a completely waste-free manufacturing process? Might all the recyclable waste created during production actually be recycled?

AALTO UNIVERSITY – City in Transition is a source of inspiration

City in Transition is part of the Creative Sustainability course at Finland’s Aalto University. The course is one of the Aalto University’s best-known international courses. The multifaceted curriculum engages Masters students in many different areas, including architecture, design, engineering and economics, each of which approach the course content from their own points of view. For many students the course has proved to be a life-changing experience from both personal and work perspectives.

The City in Transition course focuses on the problems of urbanization in developing countries, looking at empowerment, sustainable design and cultural awareness. The course challenges students to think about how the ideas and visions of design are implemented in practice, and to provide a unique opportunity for students to work with actual projects and customers.

The course aims to give students a working perspective and to achieve understanding of processes and practices, as well as their own disciplines within different cultural contexts. It provides students with an opportunity to visit developing countries on study trips and to test their own abilities on real projects where different stakeholders have different interests and challenges.

HandpaintedType – keeping an Indian tradition alive

HandpaintedType is a project dedicated to preserving the typographic practice of street painters around India. These painters, with the advent of local DTP (Desktop Publishers) shops, are rapidly going out of business as many switch to quicker, cheaper but uglier vinyls. Many painters have given up their practice altogether.

The project involves documenting the typefaces of roadside painters across India and digitizing it so that it serves as a resource for present and future generations. All collected fonts are bought from painters around India and presented at where anyone can buy one for a small amount. Half of the amount will go in the painter’s pocket, while 50% will be donated to the project. In this way, it is hoped that the project eventually will become self-sustainable.

“I’ve always wanted to become a street painter,” says project founder Hanif Kureshi. “I used to work with street painters during school vacations. My Dad suggested that I join the Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda to become one, and later I learned about graphic design and typography. I work with Wieden+Kennedy in New Delhi, which is a completely different world from that of a street painter. I now know both these worlds intimately and I felt that I should do something to link them before painters disappear from the streets. I also thought it important to preserve this art form for future generations to understand and appreciate.”

KUTCH WOOD – new life for lacquer handicraft

The Wadhas are a nomadic, mostly illiterate and impoverished community who practice the lacquer handicraft in the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat. Men and women in the Wadha community are usually engaged in the lacquer craft, but now this unique tradition is disappearing because of the weak infrastructure of the community and the difficulties of selling and promoting their handicraft products.

Lac is used as the core material for their products. Lac is applied to wood which, when heated, blends easily with the vegetable dyes used in colouring. The process is known as the turned lacquer wood process because of the turning method used.

The Wadhas are an enigmatic reclusive community, and this disappearing craft is found only among the Wadhas. To help this community to preserve their handicraft tradition and find new sustainable solutions for development, the LIVING ROOM event offers the public an opportunity to share ideas on design and development issues and help to support the Wadhas through the Finnish NGO, Tikau Share.

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