Late August 2017, both projects continue to solve local issues by intervening positively in their respective areas of Peckham. Further, their authors defend publicly, in sort of sub-conscious ways, a reusing practice challenging formal design structures, the spread of individualism and the dictates of comfortableness that characterise today’s societies. This is why their voice should not be disqualified just because they represent an alternative practice outside the typical marketplace. Rather, they have reconnected citizens, including myself, with a work of self-sufficiency, lifting Peckham beyond what they could initially imagine.
It should be remembered that neither of the two projects was planned, relying firstly on improvisation or preconceived ideas, until their authors acquired personal know-how and skills through their daily experiences, conferring them a domain of unique expertise.
Figure 26: wooden pallets collected in Peckham.
Further, my involvement in both projects has sought to enable the union between a critical practice and people’s everyday use, experimenting with waste materials in two different ways, within a context driven by participatory methods. Thus, my role as ethnographer in observing, interviewing and documenting the process complemented my role as designer in solving problems and allowing reflections. Nevertheless, I often preferred to not manage any role and to just be spontaneous in my intentions, as was the case when Anne and Mary or Johanna started their respective projects. The intimate relationship I had with them has enabled me to realise this whole research that, in some way, is a tribute to their work.
Therefore, there are two final aspects that I would like to highlight regarding the reusing practice and waste materials. First, as people who are picking waste depend on people who are throwing things away, this symbiotic relationship between one and the other will continue being an issue with global capitalism leading to worldwide environmental crisis. Increasing austerity and social inequality, refugees’ displacement, and the competition for natural resources, which may worsen within the next decades, might create situations in which some people may not have the choice, but to make objects and develop structures by themselves. Second, many authors, as some of those cited along the research, have tried to wake up designers in the past few decades, committing them to taking action. Leaving aside their books’ positive impact, today’s industrial production has led people to more products harder to disassemble, to repair or to re-purpose due to their manufacturing complexity. It is, I believe, this situation in which products are increasingly difficult to customise and with less emotional attribution that could make everyday people search for more authenticity, and somehow, enhance alternative practices. As design action is directive of our ways of life and future, it then becomes a political action with the potential for organising a sustainable world from the local to the global, re-shaping dialogue and a new framework of action.
Figure 27: set of images showing gifts that I received from Anne, Mary and Johanna after I offered them the final research.
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