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Strategic Design


A project for the Biennale di Venezia 2017

A selected group of 12 international M.A. Strategic Design students, Prof. Katrin Androschin and Prof. Julia Leihener of the Design Akademie Berlin engage at the Biennale Sessions in Venice 2017 with one part of a long term project on ‘foreign & foreignness’. The challenge of the Biennale workshop is to create an impact on society by making use of strategic design skills.

After having conducted user research and pre-concept iterations in Berlin, the Master students run a public Design Thinking activity in Venice, dealing with aspects of identity, habits, and borders. The students apply strategies like redefining, contextualizing as well as relieving foreignness.

Mapamelt was a project driven by four strategic designers who were tasked with a challenge of the words foreign and foreignness. Our goal was to understand the meaning they carry today and the possible future meanings they could grow into. Is foreignness associated with the idea of the outsider, the refugee? Are we able, through our project, to modify the negative connotations associated with the word foreign and overcome its existing barriers that it represents today in our society?


To start this project we framed an HMW question that allowed us to explore the topic of foreign and foreignness related with the concept of identity: How might we present a future outlook for society in order to question the current concept of identity?

Our research focused on how can we prove the perception of the people and their understanding of the borders in the world today. This HMW question allowed us to ideate fast and create a solid concept to explore further at the Biennale. We used tools like Idea Shopping and Idea Blossom that allowed us to gather the thoughts of the whole team and create a unique solution.

The elevator pitch is a tool used in the Design Thinking methodology that helps teams to narrow down their ideas on a project. We condense and filter our ideas and finally start prototyping our installation for the Biennale sessions.

We created a corporate Identity with a logo and brand values that helped us to shape the visual aspect of our project.

During the three days at Biennale, we interact with people from all over the world. Our interactive installation was an excellent mediator to start the conversation and discuss borders and identity. We collect information in an analogue way in three different formats. First, we had a collective platform were people created their own identity map by answering some questions. Second, each participant fills out a transparent paper with its own identity map and finally, they placed it an exhibition where the identity maps from others were as well presented.

Back in Berlin, we analyze the data we gather at Biennale di Venezia, iterate our idea and designed a publication to document our journey.


How are current political divisions of land influencing our identities?

The constant exchange of melting cultures allows us to reflect, redefine and overcome our mental borders in order to build a united understanding of the world and its people. An interactive installation creates a unique identity experience by challenging existing borders. It provides an outlook on our near future societies through analogue and digital interfaces.

Have you ever thought how you may define yourself as a human being without speaking about the country you were born in? Do you struggle to imagine your identity without thinking about your motherland? Have you ever thought about how our society will behave if the divisions of land in countries were no longer real? … Welcome to Mapamelt!

Project by: Angela Garcia, Florian Knape, Juan Useche, Eugene Vasilenka