Does Design Care…?

Inclusionaries Visit Japan

Inclusionaries Lab members Cara and Luka have had a wonderfully productive week at Chiba University with a diverse group of Designers, Carers and Academics from around the world, discussing all things Care and Design.

In the coming months they plan to publish various outcomes from this collaborative workshop including ‘The Chiba Care Protocol’ which intends to help guide and shape the future of designing care and caring design.

The capital of Japan, Tokyo, currently finds itself in the difficult position of facing one of the most severe demographic emergencies in human history; with a population that is ageing at a very fast pace, and rural areas seeing their younger citizens depart to the cities.

In the past, the elderly were taken care of by families and communities; now they face loneliness and regular struggles with running their lives. In Japan, this situation has led to an unusual trend. Many elderly Japanese women are committing petty crimes in the hopes of being sent to prison, because they have nowhere else to go.

But Japan is also the home of ‘Omotenashi’, arguably the best hospitality manners in the world; of ‘Karoshi’, literally the death from overwork; of ‘Kodokushi’, the Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time; of ‘Amae’, the sense of loyalty and shared responsibility that allows – for example – young children to take the train and run errands in complete safety.

Like the manufacture of ‘things’, Japan is moving aged-care offshore where the labour for care is cheap and abundant (like any raw material) by designing and building facilities for the elderly.

In the midst of such extreme contradictions, Cara and Luka travelled to Tokyo for the 2nd edition of Does Design Care…? to think, discuss, prototype, actualise and design new visions of ‘Care’.