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Organisation: buero bauer Gesellschaft für Orientierung & Identität mbH
Name: Erwin Bauer
E-Mail: office@buerobauer.com
Category: Social affairs

Name of Project: First Aid Kit

Description of Project: How can designers show respect to refugees? By providing clear and quick information in situations where they need help the most is one way to go. Facing the so-calles refugee crisis in 2015, we realized as designers we could actually help by designing a communication signage based on pictograms. The FIRST AID KIT was developed on a voluntary basis and soon afterwards implemented in Viennese refugee shelters, where it was tested and constantly adapted. It communicates without language and only through pictograms. It helps people from different backgrounds to navigate and communicate. Medical pictograms help locating the most common symptoms and ease the dialogue. Labeling the infrastructure and providing information, the First Aid Kit also considers ethnical differences. E.g. the sign for women: headscarf – yes or no?! We designed an icon that serves to all religious beliefs – the head can be perceived as hairstyle yet at the same time as a headscarf. As for the production process: Instead of spending much time into the development of a design piece, the production process only lasted for 2 weeks as it was more important to us to provide help immediately. Therefore, feedback was constantly included and so the whole system changed over time. Which means that pictograms had to be adapted due to their understanding. The system can be applied for the period of time actually needed. For more than only temporary usage, it can be produced with long-term material. The First Aid Kit itself is a free download and a self-print-out system. Therefore it can be easily integrated into any kind of facility that needs to communicate quick and easy with different people.Since being published, it has been downloaded over 600 times, and it developed further and further – like for exhibitions, apps, and participatory projects. The true innovation of this project is its social design aspect. Especially by focusing on pictograms, which are some sort of visual Esperanto instinctively understood and perceived: by broadening the visual language, creating icons for tolerance and equality, they help to widen the perspective and to understand each other regardless of our individual backgrounds. Therefore, design can help to overcome the barriers within our heads and within society. The true sustainability of the First Aid Kit is its direct social contribution to change. As designers, we have the skills to actively communicate and shape this process & the future. The whole project follows the principle of Inclusive / Social Design, which is key to the studio’s whole work attitude in general.

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