Meet colombian designer and visiting PhD student Maria Cristina Ibarra at CODE

Hello! My name is Maria Cristina Ibarra. I am a colombian designer and PhD student at the doctoral programme of design in the Superior School of Industrial Design (ESDI) of Rio de Janeiro State University (ESDI/UERJ) – Brazil. In this institution, I also participate as a researcher at LaDA (Design and Anthropology Laboratory), and here at CODE, I will be a visiting researcher from October 2017 to May 2018. In 2009, I completed my degree in Design at Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla, Colombia and, in 2012, I received a master’s degree after studying at Minas Gerais State University (UEMG), in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Now, I am in the third year of my doctorate (of 4) and in my research, I have been working with collaborative and participative practices of design with a collective of residents that struggle for the improvement of a neighborhood, specifically in the topic of security. This neighborhood is located in the central zone of Rio de Janeiro, I lived there for two years and worked along with the collective for almost one year. Being there, I explored how a designer can contribute to the creation and development of a collective of residents that fosters democracy. Also, in my experience with them, I sought to build (draw together) and reach a desired situation collaboratively, taking into account different points of view and to correspond to their dreams and hopes without predetermined plans and a well-defined problem.

My primary motivation as a researcher in the collective was to bring design closer to everyday culture and to open the design processes to users and ‘skilled practitioners’, who are an active part of the social (re)production of daily life. After the fieldwork, I had more questions, than answers. Questions associated with democracy in collaborative and participative practices of design, with the relation between the designer and the community, with the limits of the designer and with time as a factor in the whole process. The choice of one of these issues is going to define the main topic of my dissertation.


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