Designers in Residence explores mental health in black British communities

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Other undertakings from this year’s all-female line-up looked at our relationship to micro-organisms in cities and Nigerian textiles.

This year’s Creators in Residence programme has revealed its digital showcase, with four enterprises revolving around the theme of care.

The responses to 2020’s theme induce been cross-discipline, from care packages which make use of figure to a series of digital walks which encourage people to interact with the genius world.

Designers in Residence is an annual programme at London’s Design Museum, where devisers are invited for a ten-month residency to explore a chosen theme. This year, the television play’s 13th, boasted an all female line-up.

Although the theme of care was chosen before the pandemic, it has infatuated on new meaning during the pandemic, according to senior curator of public curricula Sumitra Upham.

“Collectively, this year’s residents remind us that anxiety is inextricably linked to design, and that designers must take job for shaping how care is constructed and distributed both now, and in years to come,” she combines.


How graphic design can support local communities

The pandemic has impacted this year’s showcase thematically and just about. Designers had to carry out their residency from home and collaborated inclusive of online platforms for the final showcase. This year’s showcase is also digital.

Cynthia Voza Lusilu’s Heeding for the Mind project focuses on black communities in Lewisham, south east London and how composition can promote positive mental health. It was partly prompted by the events of the background twelve months, including the disproportionate effects of Covid on black communities as fountain-head as police brutality.

Lusilu worked with Voluntary Services Lewisham (VSL), mental-health practitioners and provincial residents to design a support system for the local black community. Co-design was “cornerstone” to the project, Lusilu says. “Collaborating with VSL is an opportunity to work closely with people who sooner a be wearing established strong relationships with members of the community,” she adds.

The emerge was a care package for black families, which contained conversational show-cards to stimulate “meaningful conversation” as well as a wellbeing journal for collecting thoughts.

These were patterned with London illustrator Olivia Twist and VSL, and each conversation car-card was based around a theme, such as ancestry, spirituality or belonging. One in the name of of Lusilu’s project is an online platform, Black Alliance for Lewisham Minds (BALM), which resolve be launching in May this year.

“My design project offers, above all, a way for neighbours and community associates to get together and practise active listening,” Lusilu says. The designer, who also influences as a project designer at social infrastructure platform Civic Square in Birmingham, try to says that she hopes to continue working with VSL and other community units in the borough.


“Challenge perceptions of empathy”

Designers in Residence explores mental health in black British communities
An example of Abiola Onabule’s textile amount to

Fellow designer in residence Abiola Onabule took inspiration from her Nigerian family and looked at the craft of adire, an indigo-dyed cloth crafted by Yoruba lasses in southwestern Nigeria.

As part of her new collection, Onabule attempted to reimagine how well-known textiles could be used in contemporary fashion. She also created a collaborative shoot to draw attention to these practices, and their relation to social and cultural institutions.

Enni-Kukka Tuomala’s work combines art and design to “challenge perceptions of empathy”, according to the Think up Museum. Her project, entitled Forest Empathy, examines the feeling of empathy between children and trees. As part of her project, Tuomala has created a film about forests and a tree-based drive of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Designers in Residence explores mental health in black British communities
One of Man’s renders

Ioana Man meanwhile looked at how architecture could intersect with biology to develop more sustainable environments in west London. Her project produced materials visualisation that maps microbial communities in the area. For the showcase, Man made interactive digital walks which imagine a future where agriculture is a key component of urban way of life.

“Carrying out a residency programme amid a pandemic is no easy feat, but this year’s Artificers in Residence have created opportunities out of the challenges that the last 12 months has take the parted,” Sumitra Upham says.

She adds: “Working from home, they’ve projected new tools for empowering and protecting those whose needs have been overlooked; and fashioned systems that prioritise localism and community-building in this period of group separation.”

The showcase is available to view on the Design Museum’s website until August 2021.

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