Design Against Crime at CSM London

Central Saint Martins University London

Earlier in the residency, mid-October 2021, I had the great pleasure of going to Central Saint Martins University in London to meet with Lorraine Gamman the director of the Design Against Crime Centre. The work of this innovative lab posits collaboration as a form of rehabilitation and skills-building for the incarcerated. The team delivers, “practice-led socially responsive design under the themes of Crime & Justice, Public Social Innovation, and Public Space.” This initiative is centered on the study of empathy, what it means, how it is generated, and why it is important.

Lorraine Gamman

Perhaps one of the most illustrative examples of DAC’s work is the Anti-theft purse Karrysafe which was co-designed in prison facilities with inmates and design fellows. The design leverages the pickpocket techniques the inmates previously employed, to create a bag that would foil said attempts. This project is quite remarkable as it goes beyond product design, to explore the series of events that brought these folks to prison. Then, through a collaborative design process with DAC fellows the bags were co-produced in the prison. Gamman hopes to eventually have a design school program implemented in London prisons, that not only create important products but also serve as a way of developing design and making skills that could serve the inmates upon their release.

Pollution Pods

While I was at CSM, I was able to experience the Pollution Pods created by Michael Pinsky they “features five geodesic domes, each containing a different environment and air quality, and will allow visitors to experience the clean air of Tautra in Norway, and pollution of New Delhi, Beijing, Sao Paulo and London.” This project follows the legacy of designing for empathy and a shared humanity at DAC. By asking us to consider the impact of pollution across environments the project asks the user who deserves a clean environment? While cheekly answering that urban pollution is a collective problem which requires collaboration and multilateralism.

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