Slow greetings :)
Hello everyone and welcome to the wonderful world of slowLab, a nonprofit laboratory for Slow design research and creative activism.
Since its start in 2003, slowLab has been the central catalyst of the Slow design movement. We lead design research, host public dialogues and exhibitions, develop academic programming, and support an international network of Slow design activists whose ways of thinking and working contribute to a richer, Slower, more sustainable world.
We’ve incubated hundreds of distinct Slow design ideas and projects, and our Slow design principles have been used by thousands of students, teachers and professionals from fields including: architecture, urbanism, graphic arts, product design, fashion and textile research, environmental technology, humanities, social studies, and interactive media.
We’ve worked with major museums and cultural organizations around the globe and with dozens of educational institutions in the U.S. and Europe. There have been notable articles about slowLab in the New York Times, GOOD and (most recently) Dwell, in magazines and newspapers in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, India, and Japan (to name a few), and we’re regularly cited on the web.
We’re proud of these accomplishments, and of the fact that the collection of Slow design partners and participants gets bigger every day. But there’s something missing…
While there are literally thousands of Slow design ideas, actions, tools, artifacts, and resources spread out around the world and across the web, the majority of people still don’t know anything about Slow design. That’s because there’s no central hub for learning about it, no single map of all the incredible people and initiatives of the Slow design movement, and no clear instructions for how to get involved.
Which is why we’re here on Kickstarter…
We’re raising money to create the Slow Design Knowledge Index: a comprehensive platform that collects, connects and helps people share a spectrum of Slow design knowledge. Building this project will enable broader acceptance and understanding of Slow design, will catalyze new ideas, academic programs, local actions and dialogues, and will amplify the voices of the Slow design community. It's a resource that will be accessible to people around the world, and, importantly, it promises to transform how people think about and practice design into the future.
Please read on to learn more about what it is, for a specific example of how it works, to learn where the money goes, and to see images of the lovely rewards offered to our supporters!
Want to learn more about the projects featured in our video? Throughout the campaign we are posting a series of Slow design knowledge highlights on our new Facebook page: SlowLab - A Slow Design Network.
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But wait… What exactly is Slow design??
Slow design is an emerging field that offers an expanded set of values and conditions for sensing and moving toward more sustainable forms of living. It’s a way of thinking holistically. It’s a tool for investigation. And it’s a seeding process that can transform how we view, experience and affect the world we live in.
At a time when ‘fast’ has become the default pace of living, Slow design reminds us that there are other speeds and rhythms for engaging the people, places, and information around us. It challenges dominant habits of material consumption and expands our spatial, relational and sensory consciousness. It encourages us to trust and collaborate with others in ways that Slow consumption and strengthen communities, like turning to the person next to you when you have a question rather than looking it up on Google, or initiating a project in your neighborhood. And it helps bring awareness and intention to our cultural values and rituals, from celebrating traditional know-how to being mindful and critical about the role of technology in our lives.
In other words, Slow design is not only for designers. Every individual can be inspired by and appropriate Slow creative thinking and tools in their lives, in their localities, in how they view and choose to engage the world.
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About the Slow Design Knowledge Index and how people will use it
Think of this online platform as a giant honeycomb filled up with an inspiring array of Slow design ideas, artifacts, tools, people, actions, resources, and research-to-date.
For design novices, it offers an informative and stimulating introduction to Slow design. Visitors can forge individual paths of discovery or can choose to follow the traces of inquiry left by others. Dynamically linking through projects and keywords will bring them to deeper levels of understanding of Slow design and encourage them to exercise design agency in their own lives.
At the same time, more complex layers give design professionals and students access to practical tools and resources that advance their independent research and enhance their disciplinary knowledge. Throughout this process, they’ll learn about an impressive roster of Slow creative activists, their unique creative practices and what motivates them to be involved in the Slow design movement. This begins to enable diverse models of mentorship and collaboration for incubating emerging ideas, expanding research clusters and developing new teaching tools out in the real world.
In this way, the Slow Design Knowledge Index will serve as both catalyst and resource for new projects, academic programs, local Slow dialogues and workshops, and the use of social media to bolster Slow activism around the globe.
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A specific example of how it might work
Let’s say your curious about the topic ‘Time’ in relation to Slow design. Perhaps your interest was piqued after streaming one of the Long Now Foundation's brilliant seminars on long-term thinking, you’ve just seen a compelling work by the Dutch artist Germaine Kruip or the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto in a book or museum, or maybe you’re just overwhelmed by the feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day…
On the Slow Design Knowledge Index, you can choose this topic, try typing in the name of a project, an individual or organization, or select from a wide range of keywords like ‘transience,’ deceleration,’ ‘rhythm,’ or ‘enduring’.
Depending on your choice, the platform will offer up a menu of projects, tools and resources to explore: You might encounter the Society for the Deceleration of Time based in Austria. Or be introduced to Eco-Cathedral Thinking, a philosophy about time in spatial processes championed by urban visionary Louis Le Roy. You might find artifacts like Icelandic designer Thorunn Arnadottir’s Sasa Clock, a Slow timepiece that encourages people to relax and let time flow (‘Sasa’ is a word from African Kiswahili culture meaning ‘What is now’), or Takumi Endo’s TypeTrace, a software application that records the unique rhythm of an author’s keystrokes, revealing otherwise invisible, intimate details underlying the text. You could be linked to a blog post by performance artist Julia Mandle about Slowness Here, a Slowing exercise with students from the Amsterdam Architecture Academy, or directed to resources like Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, British psychologist Guy Claxton’s in-depth book about the importance of the Slow Mind.
Each of these unique entries offers the opportunity to go deeper: To learn in more detail about the creative or technical processes involved. To discover related areas of research and the people who are conducting it. And so on.
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Why we need your help
Think again about the giant honeycomb of Slow design knowledge. Making its underlying architecture as smart, elegant and user-friendly as possible is the key to accessing the sweet stuff inside. That includes mapping today’s existing cells of Slow knowledge, defining their basic geometry and effectively demonstrating their relationships and interconnections.
Your contributions to this campaign will be used to pay a core team of people to dedicate themselves to this project. That team will be led by communication designer Ana Paula Pais, a very talented designer and long-standing Slow design advocate who over the past 5 years has made significant contributions to slowLab’s work. You need look only as far as our campaign video and our recent Slow Lloyd archive and newspaper, all of which Paula made, to get a sense of her design skills and sensibility.
Paula will design the graphic interface and layers of communication that enable clear access and dynamic navigation of this extensive online resource. And she’ll work with her studio assistants to archive and optimize thousands of images that will reside there. There’s also a tremendous amount of writing and editing to be done for all that content to communicate clearly and effectively. All of this will be done in close collaboration with an information architect and a team of programmers to create a smart and solid technical infrastructure underlying it all.
Our $30,000.00 goal is the bare minimum we need to do this.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the costs:
Information architecture and navigation design: $5,000.00
Design of graphical user interface, define typography, style guides: $7,000.00
Archiving, editing, writing: $5,000.00
Image optimization: $2,000.00
Hardware and web hosting (one year): $2,000.00
Administrative costs: $1,000.00
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All of the ‘rewards’ offered to our Kickstarter supporters are made by members of slowLab’s network. We are thankful for their participation in this campaign and we are proud of their diverse contributions to a Slow-er world! Here are images of most of the items offered. Some of these are prototypes created especially for Kickstarter and will be updated as the campaign progresses. Enjoy!
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Even Slower Rewards
We’re honored to provide material rewards to you, the generous supporters of this campaign. It’s a way to share Slow design with you, and for you to share it on with those around you. We are GRATEFUL to you for your support and happy that you want to have these wonderful items, many of which are limited editions created exclusively for this campaign.
Having said that, we ask you to consider that sending out all the items carries real, not-very-Slow costs. It involves material (packaging), energy (shipping) and time (ours, that we otherwise could be using to make the project!).
So, if you feel inspired to support this campaign, but don't care as much about the material reward, please just say so. In doing that, you'll be giving the world a Slow gift of your own :)
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Other ways to support this campaign
Some people may like the project, but can't contribute financially. If that’s you, please help us spread the word via your personal network. You can also join our mailing list on the homepage of slowLab's web site to stay up to date about Slow design ideas and activities.
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If you prefer to make a tax-deductible donation
slowLab’s U.S. organization is fiscally-sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. This Kickstarter campaign is a project administered by our European office and pledges to the campaign therefore do not fall in that category. However, if you prefer to make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation to our U.S. efforts, you can do so by following this link, BUT please note that you will be contributing to other slowLab projects, not to this one.
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Risks and challenges
As we say in our video, this project is far from a light undertaking.
Once this project is funded, we'll begin the job of organizing, editing and optimizing thousands of ideas, images, and artifacts. We'll need to contact people all over the world who are or have been involved in the Slow design movement, asking them to submit material, getting approvals for use of images and text, and more. (If you're one of them, you'll be hearing from us soon!). And then there are specialized tasks of graphic design, typography and layout, information architecture, and programming that need to work gracefully and seamlessly. To make sure we achieve that, our creative and technical team will develop and test prototypes before finalizing the interface and underlying infrastructure of the platform.
Needless to say, this doesn't happen overnight. But we've been working toward this moment for a very long time. Our vision is clear and we are 100% behind the people making the platform: they are dedicated and very experienced, and you can rest assured that they will develop this project with the utmost care and integrity. It will take time, but it's going to be worth it!!
Reward fulfillment happens faster.
We're confident that all rewards can be delivered on schedule. The posters, Slow dialogue toolkits, and porcelain are ready to ship today. If you opt for a personal Skype session to support your local Slow dialogue, we promise to fit that in as your own timeline dictates. The Slow doorstop is currently in production and will be ready by the time the campaign finishes. We'll post updated images of this product when it's ready. The limited edition prints will begin to be made once we have a tally of how many are on order. For those big spenders that opt for a Slow design workshop: While we won't be able to run any of the workshops before March 2013, we'll get in touch with you as soon as the campaign ends to figure out what your specific needs are and what dates can work for all of us.
Thank you AGAIN for your support :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (59 days)