CRISTIAM SALAZAR //
Co-founder and designer at Creatorio.co //
July 6th 2017 //
Cristiam is an Industrial Designer with an interest in “Design for a Culture of Mobility”. He has a Masters degree in creative education from the National University in Colombia. He has been co-founder of design groups and citizens such as 100en1dia, Agentescultóricos and Bicicírculo Urbano. He is currently design director of Creatorio, a company he co-founded, and professor at the University of Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano.
Design was not a word used in Colombian culture until the Spanish arrived, we were designing naturally without the definitions or external expectations or ideas of success
Cristiam left Colombia to study transport design in Germany, he has always loved drawing cars so decided to see if he could do this for a living. While in Germany he understood more critically about the cultural context of transport and mobility, and returned to Bogotá with a desire to work on building the culture of mobility. He came together with a couple of friends and started a design group called Creatorio. They started off designing bikes, but by designing bikes they were having lots of conversations about commercialisation, inequality and tensions between people in the city, conflict and peace.
Like mobile phones, bikes and other objects have become symbols of status
There are lots of cases in Bogotá of people stealing mobile phones, then posting a selfie online using the phone. People are searching for the feeling of elevated status that comes from possessing these objects. “Our society has created a pressure to have these status symbols and people want them in any way possible”.
Companies are pushing this idea of the American Dream, if you work hard if you have passion then you will succeed, but this has serious issues for entrepreneurship. Everyone is exhausted, running into walls over and over again, thinking that passion is the key. But what are we actually passionate about and why?
They decided they couldn’t just design bikes, they needed to look at how we live and how we connect. So they changed their motto: Designing for a culture of tranquility. Cristiam refers to the Ted Talk of Bernardo Toro:
Cristiam talks about the low notion of the public in Colombia. “We see public space as a thing for the poorer people, people who have less, or public transport the same, we don´t understand we are all citizens who should be sharing public spaces and resources”. Cristiam is interested in new models or forms of entrepreneurship that don´t simply replicate the model of capital accumulation. “Examples of social innovation are often still using traditional capitalist models”, he talked about sistemab.org for example who work with B Companies who are committed to collaborating and using their resources to tackle social challenges. But in this region there are many people who don´t operate using a financial economy. For example: La Roca
La Roca is a networked social currency founded in 2014 in Suesca, Colombia. Currently the network is formed by a group of people and companies from different fields: from social movements, associations or simple citizens who share the idea of a fair and solidarity economy. The goal is to create an economic space, which allows users to improve their quality of life and their environment. “We believe that people can feel fulfilled without being conditioned by money and members find satisfaction in being able to offer all their skills to the network”.
“We believe that money over time has lost its primary function of facilitating exchanges and is increasingly being used in order to enrich and speculate. With our currency we do not intend to promote articles or services, what we want is to encourage mutual help to achieve a more cooperative society through work, understanding and fair exchange.”
So Cristiam and the group at Creatorio decided they wanted to create a world where wealth was not accumulated, instead it was distributed. “Why are we working so hard, all the hours, when someone else could be sharing the work”. He is interested in the notion of sustainability in business not just being about money, instead about people and wellbeing and balance.
Designing a workshop for the Farq.
The team were asked by the government in Nariño to design an online course for the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) to give them tools for forming new sustainable businesses within their communities. The FARC were a guerrilla movement involved in the Colombian armed conflict since 1964. After the peace deal there are many self-organised rural communities who want to build entrepreneurship into how they live together as a group in order to sustain their way of life. Creatorio designed a system that gave them tools to map their physical and social resources, and explore logics of exchange to keep any currency circulating between them. He believes in design as a epistemological act, being open and present in the world and looking through multiple perspectives.
We were asked to do this because we are thinking differently about entrepreneurship, not through the colonial view of modernity and progress
As a collective Creatorio want to share ideas about different ways of working, creating change and shifting the paradyms of what “success” is in design and social business.
We don´t believe in coaching, the idea that you just need to press play on people and they will be motivated to go and do whatever they dreamed of.
Cristiam believes that we as people don´t fully understand our motivations and our dreams, we just pursue them ferociously. “passions change, we change, we can´t keep driving mindlessly forward all the time”. He talked about helping people learn how to live with conflict in themselves, and stare into the problems we all have and reasons we have them. He wants to help people be more conscious of who they are and the problems that surround us, and be comfortable with being comfortable.
Understanding yourself is much harder than just motivating yourself to do things
Design tools over simplify everything.
Cristiam talks about design toolkits and methods as an issue of oversimplification. “We always want to instrumentalise things, turn everything into a tool. What we actually need to do is be educated in complexity”. The challenge he sees in the Design Thinking tools and methods is that they are still very much from the perspective of the designer. And these tools are often developed in different cultural contexts to South America.
In Mexico you bring a bottle of tequilla to share with your friends, but the rule is you can´t drink from your own bottle… We need to see more Latin American thinking in design.