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19th European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production – Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption

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A contribution of multicultural Brazilian tradition to a perspective of social design approach.

The current economic, social and environmental situation brings an opportunity for discussion of issues related with the economic model adopted by developed countries and the necessity of changes in it. This is preceded by a discussion about the necessity of a way of life that respects the planet environmental limits and a proposal of a “slow” way of life, healthier and less individualistic, focused on social improvement in a scarcity resources context. This paper presents a contribution to design based on a new archetype of products, bearing in mind the traditional Brazilian way of life, with cooperative principles of production processes, sense of “social property” of products and common use of material goods and natural resources. The design activity is usually presented as process of product development based in an industrial production model, aimed to conception of goods to human necessities in different ways and levels. However, the majority of industrial products (and services) is designed to individual applications and highlights the characteristics linked with personal status. These characteristics are established from social paradigms of individual (and financial) success and applied in luxurious residences, sport cars, electronic gadgets etc. Meanwhile, the Brazilian cultural tradition (especially indigenous) is based in different principles. While the Brazilian high class people imitates the European and North American way of life, adopting their habits and individualistic use of goods and products, the low classes presents a set of habits resulting of miscegenation between the indigenous autochthonous population, Portuguese colonists and African slaves. Diverse groups in Brazil (especially in the low classes) preserves uses and behavior that look offensive or depreciative to the high classes, like a characteristic sense of “laziness” or “jeitinho” (word to describe an improvised and low technology solution), that cannot be justified in a society based in intensive work and high levels of material goods consumption. Using examples from local tradition, this paper intends to contribute to a discussion about a new identity to Brazilian Design, observing the cultural contribution of the Brazilian people, based in a “slow way of life” perspective, in a collaborative system and a social use of products. Cases as “mutirão” (a collective production process, usually adopted in houses building in Brazilian countryside), the indigenous “malocas” (a communal house) and “casa de farinha” (flour house, to manioc flour production) will be presented and discussed as elements for a new design perspective, focused in communal products and collaborative ways of social interaction.

Eduardo Romeiro Filho
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais


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