Alessandra Pizzuti (She/Her)
DESIGNER + THINKER
As a designer and researcher, I am a doer and a strategic thinker. I am inquisitive and thrive on seeking unexpected possibilities by using a holistic approach to finding alternative proposals. I am open-minded and an active-emphatic listener, involving users in the design process while keeping them engaged; I enjoy working with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Lastly, I always strive to accomplish intersectionality in my projects.
My practice aims to create new values and deliver social, environmental, and economic sustainability in the long term. In doing so, I am aware of the big picture and complexity issues, but I also pay attention to the details.
Background in product design, sustainability design, product management, contemporary critical analysis, cultural heritage, and architecture.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
When I first arrived in Glasgow from Italy, I was impressed by the large number of Italian products sold in supermarkets and restaurants. Tomatoes products got especially my attention, shops are full of these labeled “Product of Italy” – “Italian tomatoes” and most of the time without cites the provenience. As an ethical consumer myself, I knew about forms of human slavery behind the agriculture sector, particularly tomatoes. Do people in the UK, and in general, know about this topic? Is there some action in place?
Thus, I decided to do my master’s project and research about ethical trade and consumption and the problem of ‘Caporalato,’ a gangmaster system in the Italian agriculture sector. Especially in the agriculture of fruits and vegetables; tomatoes are a large part of it. Italy is one of the biggest producers of tomatoes globally, and the first producer of processed tomatoes, 70% in the entire world, is Italian. The biggest importers are UK, Germany, and France, and according to various reports, 50% of Italian tomato products are not Caporalato free.
Farmers often look to ‘Caporali’ for help finding seasonal workers during harvesting and most of them are migrants from Africa, East Europe, and India illegally employed and exploited in intensive farming.
So what did I do?
The idea includes a food ID system, protected by blockchain, that will act as data protection and verification. The main aim is to monitor the product and give its accountability. A platform (app) will act as a medium for all the actors and provide awareness, empowerment, and knowledge.
Some service features are anonymity to protect the workers’ identity, a way to refer farms, the possibility of language settings/translations, and active participation to change the status quo.
It consists of the interactions of my personas at different stages. The person from the organisation and other actors will sponsor the food ID initiative to farmers, map all the places of interest, and continue checking in the fields. The worker gets to know about the service through word of mouth, and later he can refer a farm for exploitation, know his rights or do a “call to action”. The insider can check IDs and participate in a “call to action”, same for the citizen who can also learn about food systems. The main goal is to continuously check in the fields and social transformations with community action.
To avoid the App being abused by gangmasters, there will not be a rating system on products and farms, rather, it will be based on the accountability and verified actions/referrals on them. The community/call to action is monitored by the staff and to help establish that someone is who they say they are, user identification will be in place and rely on out-of-band proofing on other channels.
How: Ethnographic Research
To understand how this problem is perceived and dealt with in the UK, I went to various supermarkets and local shops, their websites or pages, to check on tomatoes products and their whereabouts.
- Lack of information or transparency of suppliers
- Conflicts between parties
Knowing who’s involved, I interviewed local shops in Glasgow to understand their ways of doing and the ethical considerations of these products. In particular, I wanted to hear more about the story behind the choice and their access to alternative sourced food.
- Passing the buck of responsibility
- Easy trust in suppliers
- Actions in the hand of few
- Lack of a platform and interaction with the source of a product
To learn more about the daily lives and environment of consumers while buying a tomato product, I designed a digital cultural probe, where open-ended activities were given to a group of participants living in the UK.
- Unknown phenomenon
- Ignoring it
- Lack of confidence
Non-participatory online ethnography
To gather insights from some of the essential stakeholders that I couldn’t reach, I started to ask myself, as a consumer, where I first discovered this case of exploitation: Instagram. Consequently, I decided to observe social interactions within the online community around the topic of Caporalato.
- Workers are not considered
- Inspections from authorities are not enough
- Unknown workers rights due to language barriers
- Struggle to engage with all the actors
The first goal was to test the concept’s validity, through the Fast Generation Ideas tool, I engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the participants, asking them to use a different approach to tackle the same concept.
Using a 1:1 interview, the second goal was to change some of my biases about the type and amount of engagement from consumers-citizens.
- Anonymity for workers
- Emergency call button
- Different ways to engage, low – medium
The long-term goal is to influence, shape, and inform the market, government policies, and society’s approach to food systems. To be part of active participation with different levels of engagement tailored to everyone’s needs and possibilities and in contact with the source of our food. The aim is to start with the tomato sector and spread the system to all the agriculture fields with time, as the service system has replication features.
Viability & Impact
I used the design-led, system-wide innovation approach to map the values created across the system. The viability and impact of “All Together Now” lies on the possibility to:
Person: To be part of a change, giving guidance and confidence.
Service: Bring people together and monitoring the whole process.
System: Have different levels of engagement and continuous workplaces check—the possibility of system replication.
Society: Bring awareness and food knowledge among society. Support the cause with long-term sustainability as there will be always an exchange of people on the platform.
I would have liked to have the time to develop my project further as aspects of the idea development and implementation of the system service can be refined. My ethics as a designer didn’t let me further develop the traceable system. This part must be co-designed with critical stakeholders such as social enterprises, organizations, farms, workers, etc., so that it can achieve a more tangible and inclusive service. Everyone’s knowledge is required and needed to develop it successfully and engage with more people. Moreover, in the long term, without future support from the local and central government, it would be unfeasible to “All Together Now” be effective in full and to expand it to other sectors and products.
Award: GSA Sustainability Degree Show Prize 2021 – Runner Up
Journey of Care
The brief given by NHS Scotland seeks to bridge the gap between the expectations and experience of rehabilitation, set within the context of the Douglas Neurological Rehabilitation Centre of Ayrshire & Arran. Goal: Engage with – Communicate to – Provide for – clients.
Journey of Care is a service design that has communication, ownership and engagement as values.
The proposal addresses the unmet needs of the research and stakeholders (patient, carer, staff):
- lack of awareness and orientation in concerns to neurological rehabilitation;
- lack of engagement and unpreparedness for patient and carer;
- carers lack accessibility and communication during the entire journey.
HelloKit & Emotional Board
The DGRC staff will hand the kit to the patient. It contains his portal credentials, which he needs to know, a weekly goal setting tool (short period goals are more achievable) and a roadmap of stages of his rehabilitation. It creates ownership and the empty sections with the question mark will create engagement through the process; those are for customised tools that the staff will add.
The Emotional Board aims to empower the patients by giving them a medium of expression through a physical board instead of the portal; a photo of it can be upload by the staff. Patients’ neurological conditions are many and different, and our statement is to give radical inclusion over the ability and digital literacy. A more comprehensive range of interaction in the service was required.
The portal is a role-based platform to monitor, store and create information about rehabilitation. Role actions:
- Staff can create and edit patient information, use it as a clinical record, handle queries from the carer and manage referrals.
- The patient can monitor his journey and express himself through an emotional diary section. He can find different ways such as mood composition with colours and sounds, a sketch board, the digital version of the room board, or the possibility to upload files.
- The carer can monitor the patient’s journey in the emotional diary and add queries on staff updates.
- The portal points to facilitate communication between actors, manage expectations, ease the referral process, be accessible everywhere, and give a place for patient emotions.
Impact & Viability
Using the system-wide innovation to map our service, we summarised values created across the system. Considering the person’s needs, our proposed service goes out of the centre. It connects various stakeholders, is inclusive and accessible, covering multiple stages of a customised rehabilitation journey and brings awareness while sharing relevant information. It gives clarity and is sustainable as the kit is made of biodegradable material.
A design-led socio-ecological transition for a sustainable sanitary future.
Award: GSA Sustainability Degree Show Prize 2021 – Highly Commended
We are a team of four concerned citizens who believe in the power of design for envisioning a sustainable sanitary future – Alessandra Pizzuti, Federica Bruschi, Vinishree Solanki and Mihika Mehra.
The local authorities, schools, colleges and public places provide free and easy access to sanitary pads, tampons and reusable pads to whoever needs them. A revolutionary step in itself, it sparked the idea of our team living in Scotland to take the next leap. When Scotland was announced as the first country to address period poverty by making the period products free, the citizens wholeheartedly welcomed this progressive legislation. Therefore, we aim to bring together experts and the citizens of Scotland to start a conversation about sanitary products and provide a platform for encouraging social innovation.
We wanted to extend this access forward to not only period products but to the whole sanitary products domain comprising of baby diapers, adult diapers and period products. A Visionary Hub for collaboration, co-creation and raising awareness while engaging the communities, organisations and government to envision a sustainable sanitary future through innovation and knowledge sharing.
However, we believed that accessibility is only solving a part of the problem, and the major questions it raised was “How might we initiate a sustainable sanitary revolution in Scottish homes and public places to minimize the environmental impact?” and “How is the production and consumption of sanitary products affecting the planet, people and the economies around the world?” Addressing these key concerns to future changemakers, we propose to set up a social innovation hub in Dundee, Scotland. This would be center for experimentation of material, incubation of ideas, workshop space for co designing, a database of scientific and indigenous knowledge, and providing a stage for collaboration.
Impact: Visionary Hub aims for interventions that lead to environmental and social impact, always thinking about the planet and its ecosystem as well as the people and their needs in the social framework. The hub will incubate ideas on bio-degradable solutions for diapers and sanitary pads, accelerating innovation through co-designing with various stakeholders and experts. The goal is to minimise waste generated through sanitary products and develop sustainable waste disposal system.
Raising awareness towards ecofriendly solutions for diapers and pads is crucial as well, and the Hub aims to do that through collaborations with schools, colleges, care homes, gynecologists, pediatricians, healthcare systems and local authorities. Events and workshops will target to educate and spread awareness about reusable and bio-degradable products. The Hub strongly believes in social impact by creating an environment to encourage conversations among communities. It calls for eradicating the taboos existing in society by redefining the preconceived notions within society and highlighting the physical needs of the people.
Creativity & Design: Scotland’s rich biodiversity and natural habitat is already a home to many ecofriendly organizations aiming at preserving the natural resources. Our Visionary Hub takes inspiration from the surrounding Scottish landscape while co-existing with the nature. It aims to create a green architectural space utilising the locally available material and resources. The Hub maintains a digital platform and social media for sharing information about events, a platform for holding virtual talks and dialogues. Another medium of communication for creating awareness is through radio and media, which the Hub extensively uses for its campaigns.
Feasibility: A feasible plan that lays down the process of creating the first of Scotland’s Visionary Hub involves:
– Initial funding through approaching industries supporting social innovation or crowd funding
– Renting co-working spaces
– Collaborating with similar initiatives and enthusiasts
– Developing the website and social media
– Approaching UKRI (UK Research & Innovation – https://www.ukri.org/) for major funding, buying
land in Scotland and building the Hub
– Setup the incubation hub for startups
– Co-creation workshops, events to raise awareness
– Promoting and supporting sustainable companies/ manufacturers
– Exhibiting and sharing the stories and work of individuals
– Increasing access to sustainable products
Scalability: Making Scotland a social innovation leader paving the way for global scalability. The concept is adaptable to different contexts easily as the emphasis is placed on indigenous products and beliefs existing in society. The systems in each country and the situation regarding the availability of sanitary products are different. Scotland is one of the few countries to offer sanitary products for free making it easier to shift focus on purchasing more eco-friendly products. However, in locations where this isn’t possible, and the main problem is the availability of sanitary products, there the primary focus of the hub would be more on education at a grassroots level and then improving access to eco-friendly sanitary products.
Identifying the problem
Dancing with the Past: Connecting Communities Across Time
‘Dancing with the Past’ is a local engagement tool to create spaces for interaction with historical and contemporary local knowledge expressed through performance and movement. Engagement with a local community, its people, and its history creates a sense of connection to place that allows and encourages long-term thinking.
When people lack a sense of connection, particularly a connection to present place, it becomes more difficult to consider and make decisions with the long term in mind. The sharing of local knowledge can foster this sense of connection but can be inaccessible to those not already embedded in communities, making it challenging to ‘place’ oneself in the long-term future.
‘Dancing with the Past’ fosters community engagement through dance, using archived footage projected via multi-dimensional techniques to allow new types of intergenerational interaction within public spaces.