Sigrid Bürstmayr and I had the pleasure to be invited to give several lectures, workshops and discussions at different universities in our UNESCO City of Design partner city Puebla. We started the week with two public lectures at the University Tecnológico de Monterrey about “Social and Sustainable Design”. In the first lecture I presented my approach to social/socio design. Starting with Victor Papaneks thesis that under the fact that “more and more useless, potentially damaging, irresponsible and ecologically alarming products are being produced as items of mass consumption,” designers have to change their approaches. In the meantime, Papanek’s approach has been winning more and more approval. Many designers become involved in social movements, support grassroots initiatives, and in a very simple and calm way attempt to contribute to the improvement of the world. In the second lecture Sigrid Bürstmayr talked about sustainable design, presenting examples of very successful design projects on e.g. reducing materials, urban mining which means collecting raw materials in the city or gave examples on the notion of a circular economy. Besides environmental responsibility design also includes social responsibility.

Another focus of our visit was to intensify the contacts with our partner universities, especially to name Universidad Iberoamericana Puebla. As a first step we decided to work on an exhibition project for Besign Puebla and Designmonth Graz 2020. Thanks a lot to our colleagues Rob Razo Rodríguez, Mariana González de la Rosa, Enrique Nicolás Ramales Montes and José Francisco López Ruiz.

We also visited two new universities which are really amazing: UNARTE Universidad del Arte de Puebla and Universidad Anáhuac Puebla. UNARTE, a private university offers design, art and architecture programs, the profile matches perfectly with our approach. ANÁHUAC also focuses on a social approach to design. We are currently working on a contract to enable staff and students exchange.

Last but not least: We really have to thank UNESCO City of Design Puebla for the great hospitality and for all the connections! Thank you very much Luis Gonzalez Arenal. And we also thank Luis Rodrigo Gonzalez for being in the live radio show of IMAGEN Radio Puebla talking about social and sustainable design.

And also a big thanks to Mag. Ilona Hoyos, Director of Austrian Culture Forum in Mexico, who supported us by funding the flights.

Text: Karl Stocker
Photography: Sigrid Bürstmayr, Karl Stocker, Universidad Anáhuac Puebla, UNARTE Universidad del Arte de Puebla