INEQUALITY & LEGO
What does it feel to play with LEGOs in the different countries around the world?
Unequal opportunities translate into unequal lifelong outcomes by the time children reach the age of five. Evidence from developing countries shows that children in the poorest 20 per cent of the populations are still up to three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintiles.
Critical design is a way to express speculative design proposals. And has a goal to put on display a problem by using different resources, such as amplifying a situation and making it visible, but without taking any part in it. The designer takes the role of spectator, without presenting visible solutions, but highlighting apparent problems instead.
In this project, I approached children Inequality through a Critical Design perspective by using LEGO company as a medium. My starting point was to do an economical analysis comparing the price of a LEGO Classic 790 pieces (iconic LEGO product) and the minimum wages in some countries around the world with a visible difference in people's income.
Price LEGO CLASSIC
PRICE OF A
HS. FOR LEGO CLASSIC BOX
BRICKS PER HOUR
IN VENEZUELA TAKES 4HS TO BUY A SINGLE LEGO BRICK
The process of bringing stats to physical happened step by step.
First by imagining cards and illustration representing the different outcomes in the different countries. Through sketches I tried to visualize these numbers in different ways. I finally imagined a scenario where a person can only acquire a limited amount of legos, set by the country they coming from.
This radical and dystopian scenario helped me out to project new ideas, easing different ways to picture and visualize the previous stats and illustrations.
Let's imagine a scenario where a person can only acquire a limited amount of legos, set by the country they coming from. Depending the country you are coming from, you will have to wait certain amount of time to buy the set of LEGOS you want. While in Denmark, for example, you would be able to buy 20 legos every six minutes, in Argentina you would be able to buy 3. How this scenario would be?
The way to translate this scenario into a workshop was to invite Laura (6 years old) and Gustav (9 years old) to play with legos. They randomly chose a country, the options were Argentina and Denmark. I previously chose these two countries due to the visible outcome difference.
The exercise consisted in 10 envelops, five Danish envelops with 20 lego bricks each, and five Argentinian envelops with 3 lego bricks each. They had to open them every two minutes (representing 6 minutes in real life) and play with them.
As a technological Industrial designer, I was used to follow a conventional process of research, problem elaboration, ideation phase, sketching, prototyping, validation and so on. Always having in mind morphology, technology and ergonomic concepts, production, packaging, a market, etc. Critical design instead, use some of the previously mentioned tools and steps but aiming a different goal. Critical design tries to showcase problems but no solutions, to create debate and discussion, but without making the designer part of it. Taking out my focus in the final product, but concentrating into showing the problem, was specially difficult to change. I have to convince myself I have no need to solve anything.
This whole new paradigm helped me concentrate into other points of the process, and to free my mind into new ways of conceptualization. It was much easier to think and imagine more extreme, future and dystopian scenarios.