profession May 25, 2019

Nüdel kart: using open-design to bring back playtime

I recently went on vacations to recharge batteries and meet new places. It was a massive trip of 7 cities in 8 days, but we still manage to do it.

Being the control freak that I am, I did some research and planned to see a couple of things. Among them was the Design Museum in Gent.
There’s a lot I could say about the museum itself, but I rather show you a particular project that was there.

It’s called Nüdel Kart and was under the Belgian Design: Generous Nature exhibition.
The goal of this exposition is to showcase sustainable products that use design as an open movement – that is a transformative, developing tool – instead of a merely esthetic one.

What is the open-design movement?

Open-design is a movement that consists of the development of physical products by sharing its design information publicly.
It’s a co-creation process between the designer and the user. Because of that, often times they are free and shared online.

Open-design differs from other design services because it aims at improving society.
Solving ecological or social problems of developing countries are some of the main purposes of this movement.

Nüdel Kart: creating an open-design for play time

Explaning Nüdel Kart, an open-design project.

Nüdel Kart is a product developed by Emma Ribbens, a Product & Social Designer from Belgium.
As a Master thesis project, Emma created Nomadlab. It focuses on the importance of play in developing emotional and cognitive skills in children in harsh environments.

In places such as refugee camps, war zones or social institutions, children have to deal with the sorrow of their reality.

Considering that most of these situations imply the destruction or constraining of materials to build playgrounds, kids end up being deprived of their normal childhood development. As a result, they fail to reach their full developmental potential and don’t grow up to be well-prepared adults.

Nüdel Kart can be the answer to this huge social problem.
It’s a deconstructable mobile cart that can be put assembled by children in endless ways.
By creating a stimulating space for play, it allows children to move around, solve problems and imagine new realities, maximizing the learning process.

Why did this project catch my attention?

As a designer, we spend most of our time trying to solve problems. The thing is, almost always, these problems have a commercial purpose.
So, once in a while, when I see design being used to solve a bigger problem like this one, it restores my faith in humanity a little bit more.

I believe that open-design can shift mentalities regarding the design profession, and have a significant impact in future generations of designers.
If you don’t believe me, see the implications of this project for yourself.

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