_DEEP NEED | empathy and design

The DEEP NEED | empathy and design includes the following shows: Wake-up Light, The Chocolade Machine (Maszyna do czekolady)Mailman’s bagCukeriadaOtulakMórimo a sensory instrumentTinyTask, The Embrace Infant WarmerToTu (Here) dishes for visually- imapaired people, Rodzisko – designed to support active childbirthmytaxiCollaborative MobileTACTILU (alpha version), EzyStove, alternative for cooking over an open firePLAY FITOUTDOOR MATH, MOUNTAIN SHELTER- ANALYSIS AND PROJECT OF SHELTER POINTS IN THE MOUNTAINS, Ambient Reminder Bowl

Curators: Magda Kochanowska i Aga Szóstek

“Design, is basically not self-expression. (…) The essence of design lies in the process of discovering a problem shared
by many people and trying to solve it. Because the root of the problem is within society, everyone can understand plans
for solutions and process for solving the problem (…). Design is appealing because the process creates inspiration that
is engendered by this empathy among human beings in our common values and spirituality”
(Kenya Hara, Designing Design, p. 24)

Contemporary designers often find inspiration in real human needs; curators: Magda Kochanowska i Aga Szóstek “Design, is basically not self-expression. (…) The essence of design lies in the process of discovering a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it. Because the root of the problem is within society, everyone can understand plans for solutions and process for solving the problem (…). Design is appealing because the process creates inspiration that is engendered by this empathy among human beings in our common values and spirituality” (Kenya Hara, Designing Design, p. 24) Contemporary designers often find inspiration in real human needs; they realize that, deprived of content, even the most beautiful form will not have the same influencing power as a design based on empathy.
In order to understand this so-called ‘deep need’, designers must see the world through the eyes of a child who has just been diagnosed with diabetes, experience what it is like to stand in the street at night waiting for a taxi that is running late, or observe a loved one struggle through the toils of everyday life after losing his or her vision. In psychology, empathy is defined as ‘the capacity to feel the emotional states of others, and also the ability to adopt their way of thinking’. In order to empathise with people, one must first be close to them: listen to them, observe them, understand them. Only then can one speak of designing in a truly human dimension.

Creating empathic solutions demands a particular kind of sensitivity from designers, since the overriding goal is to design change that makes life better. Yet an empathic design project often not only touches the direct recipient, but also his or her loved ones, and even the society in which he or she lives. That is why three circles of empathy have been demarcated in the exhibition, showing our interpretation of the reach of the influence of each of the presented projects.

The objects and applications gathered for this exhibition are by their very nature deeply empathic: they help, they improve the quality of life, they support. They listen attentively to the entire wealth of human emotions: those of the lonely, and those of the happy; those of the desperate, and those of the hopeful.
In some instances they solve important problems regarding the lack of access to civilisation’s basic advances and are of enormous importance to the inhabitants of developing countries (for example, the EzyStove oven, or the Embrace sleeping bag); in other instances they support processes of interpersonal communication and search for new ways of making contact in a world saturated with technology (the MyTaxi application, Collaborative Mobile); and in still others they focus on weaknesses that overwhelm us, but which, with a dab of support, we can begin to overcome (the Tiny Task system, the Chocolate Machine).

With this presentation’s help, we seek to reveal to you the secret of good design: understanding another human being.

* The phrase “deep need” has been borrowed from a presentation by Simon Ahuja of Blood Orange at the DMI conference in May 2013 in Madrid.