Today, Giulio Vinaccia uses design as a development tool all over the world, but he was “born as a product designer”, working with big brands in electronics, sports equipment and lighting. One day everything changed. “On the 10th of September 2001 I found myself completely immersed in a discussion about which color red the new helmet of Vespa should have – burgundy or rather vermilion? The next day this whole discussion appeared to me as so very futile... 9\11 changed my life. I decided to start to create development with my work as a designer. When I explained my new insights and engagements at an international conference, two ladies from Brazil invited me to work with them on the craftsmanship of local people. And that’s how started my second life as a designer who uses his work to create tools for other people.” Even though Vinaccia still has his design studio, most part of his work is ‘social design’, and he’s active in about 20 countries, even more so since the UN picked it up 5 years ago.
“The collection got launched beginning of December, which was quite a challenge, since the government initially refused to allow us to set up an accompanying exhibition with big pictures of the Farafangana women in the Queens’ palace. In Madagascar, black people are lowest ranked in society and the government didn’t want them to use their elitist palace. They finally surrendered and the presentation was a success, but more than a de- sign event, this was a kind of social and gender re- volt, with outcasts as the protagonists in the elitist palace of the ruling ethnic groups.” Splendid... But what exactly makes this project different from other ‘social design’ projects? “It’s important to notice the difference with projects developed in London or Milan which got then top down implemented in local communities – that kind of projects are excellent to show of and to win prices with, but they’re nothing else than charity which in the end keeps everything like it was. Projects like TSARA happen together with the people whom should benefit from it. You have to be there, feel the situation and work with the people. This TSARA project enables people of these communities to enroll their own economy, based on their own skills. Thus it’s a tool for them to improve their living conditions, and even for empowerment, as the incident in the Queen’s Palace shows.”
images by Gabriele Balcewicz Lemanski