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Photo by Cenk Aytekin

Design for the homeless?

Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to sleep outside, on the streets? It is not easy to comprehend such a horrible situation and I wish all people could live under a safe roof. For a while now I have been thinking about what I, as a Designer, could do for those who are unfortunate enough to be without a home. When walking by a homeless person I have often wanted to ask them about their story. I want to understand, and maybe for a moment take away that constructed border between me and ‘them’. What stops me is that feeling of ‘who am I to think that I have the right to ask a stranger about their life story?’. Just because you have to live a life on the streets does not give others the right to know everything about your life.

The notion of ‘you’ and ‘them’ is what separates. A separation creating those gaps that leads to fear that leads to alienation and ignorance. A separation that does not exist in reality. For that homeless person might as well be someone you knew. Even someone in your family. Or you.

What can we as Designers do to help? I believe that design can inform and create awareness. That through design we can meet and erase some of the borders. Design can make people feel heard and needed. Like their lives matter. It all starts with listening, and breaking down some of those imaginary fences in between us.

What if there were more forums where we could all meet and understand these lives better? Where homeless people are not just charity cases, but individuals with their own stories.
What if we could invite a homeless person to a school, where children could listen to and ask about his or her story?

What are your thoughts?

If you are a designer or working in a creative field – how do you think we could help?

Head of Design at Smartly. Designer passionate about creating engaging products and experiences. Specialised in designing for health and well-being, and the process of using design as a tool to address social and global issues.

*Due to client confidentiality, some works cannot be published online. Please contact me for more info.*