Read Time: 3 minutes
Branded Environments, Thursday, October 13, returns by popular demand for the sixth year. In just four weeks from now, join us at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, to start a two-event exploration into the "art of storytelling." Headlining Branded Environments is LA-based, Liberian-born refugee, designer, strategist, creative director, and social practitioner; Nu Goteh. As co-founder & creative director of the strategy and design studio Room for Magic and its partner publication Deem, Nu's vision for building platforms that enable communities to engage in shared experiences has always guided his approach to work and creativity.
In the closing Keynote, "Brand Experiences that Improve Culture," Nu's talk explores the question: Design is everywhere, so why not use it to improve how people experience culture? How does design thinking leverage research, design, and strategy to transform the approach from "selling design" to telling compelling stories that add value and solve problems?
From selling to solving.
Nu's experience as a designer began in brand marketing for firms such as Puma, Sonos, Red Bull, and others. He had a lot of early success but soon realized that selling products wasn't enough—he needed to seek a higher objective. After returning to school to obtain a Masters in Strategic Design & Management from Parsons School of Design, Nu became focused on the capabilities of design-thinking and on investing in ideas that solve bigger problems as a means of elevating the well-being of others.
Connecting Communities & Democratizing Design
Room for Magic is founded on the belief that true change comes at the community level, and for brands trying to create social impact or sell their latest product, success is rooted in understanding and serving a community. Nu’s work serves as an intermediary to bring those audience members to the table. Going further, Room for Magic's partner publication, Deem, started with an ambitious vision to democratize the world of design. Their goal is to look at design through the lens of the process rather than outputs—something that allows more people to participate.
Looking at design as social practice, Nu explained in a recent interview, "is a way to reframe design away from just making objects to a means of creating better conditions."
It can be broken down into three parts: "1) Social – as an opportunity to create space or the conditions for a community to thrive. 2) Art – as a means to shifting the perspective or context to a specific problem to see new ways of approaching it and 3) Design – the process of adding value." Combining the three is a formula inclusive of many perspectives but also tied to creating a positive systemic shift.
By focusing on process over output, design is no longer constrained by access to capital or resources, which creates more opportunities for diverse voices and perspectives to enter the space. Thus, the democratization of design.
Examining the role of design(er)
Looking at the intersection of design and society, Nu posits that "designers have a unique position at the center of several core systems, from the economy—how we manage resources—and the environment—natural, built, and sustainable—to equity and social justice."
If design sits at the center of everything, we, as designers, have the unique opportunity to use it to transform our culture—for the better.
This closing BE Keynote will explore how making connections between community and brands allows for genuine exchange and meaningful engagement and has the power to shift how people experience culture.
This session is sponsored by Designtex, a global resource for applied surface knowledge, innovation, and sustainability and to be the world's respected leader for applied surface solutions.