The Canadian industrial designer has set her sights not only on effective design, but also how to use design to transform the developing world into self-sustaining communities.
Her latest collaborate effort is with BrandAid, taking her to Haiti, a country still in rebuilding mode. “Haiti is incredibly artistically rich, but it’s also the beloved media whipping boy,” said Johnson during the second CreativeMornings/Toronto at the Design Exchange on Friday morning. “Through all their hardships, they’ve maintained high artistic quality.”
A design platform for the Haiti effort centres around Voodoo “as a metaphor for Haitian struggle,” she said. “Voodoo artists open the doors of imagination. Voodoo is scary to people, but it’s important to Haiti.”
Working closely with the artisans who build their offerings by hand, Johnson helped develop new products based on Voodoo culture. She then leverages her international contacts accrued throughout the years to bring the products to market; in fact, Johnson will bring a sample from a collection called Vodunuvo to Interior Design Show 2012 from Jan. 26 to 29. Montreal is another Canadian market she will show off the work, she added.
“BRANDAID and other similar international efforts “have been really rewarding and profoundly changed how I think about design and the role of the designer,” she said. “I really encourage all designers to rethink and meet the people who make the products.”