Design Through Making
Eric Saldanha is a thinker, a problem-solver, a curious cat, a designer from India, based in London.
His love for design and his eagerness to understand the tactile what, why’s and how’s of the objects that surround us, led him to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Eric has the ability to look at usual things in an unusual way. Focusing on the interplay between the design of these objects and people, he began to explore how design can answer the unmet needs of a community. As a Design Consultant in the Design Centre at 3M India, where he worked for over 3 years honing in on his research and technical skills, he collaborated on a number of commercial user-centric projects spanning multiple industries like healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, consumer and transport.
Intrigued by how good design becomes great design, his continuous search for answers brought him to RCA, where the focus of his curiosity shifted from objects to people. Thriving in an environment that constantly challenged and inspired him, he has created and collaborated on multiple award-winning projects.
PLOC, an interdisciplinary project rethinking plastic recycling, won The Grand Challenge, a collaboration between Royal College of Arts and CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), in 2019.
FriGo, a game-changing vaccine carrier for the humanitarian world, was exhibited in the Milan Design Week 2019, and won the Sapling Nursery Grant from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that same year.
Eric’s design philosophy aligns with his personal philosophy. Design is his way of thinking about ambiguous problems while considering many perspectives to bring forward viable solutions that will ultimately make a difference in someone’s life. His design process is user-centred and solution-oriented, built on a strong research foundation and involves a keen understanding of human-object interaction by immersing himself in different environments.
He believes that design has the tools to bring multiple disciplines together to collaborate towards a common goal. Design asks the right questions, and advocates for an individual to the decision makers, to create nothing short of meaningful solutions.
The world is full of challenges, or as Eric likes to think about it, opportunities. Opportunities to centre the person and the environment, by addressing needs that are often overlooked or inadequately represented, and consequently design for them through collaboration and technology.
His work revolves around his belief that design has an important role in creating a more equitable and sustainable world for society and the environment. He is drawn to projects that aim to uncover a vital need and have the potential to make a lasting positive impact on a person or a situation. The running theme, through his creations and collaborations, is to create something achievable, in the immediate or not-so-distant future, which displays a critical understanding of the problem and the societal and environmental impact within which it sits. His strength lies in then translating that comprehension into an appropriate outcome that is elegant, desirable, and feasible.
Having such a widespread and indiscriminate impact around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw up challenges every day. And with that comes opportunities for change.
With no access to workshops or tools, Eric focused on the pandemic and its impact on the most vulnerable. Residing in London offered him a unique perspective as he was able to be at the forefront of cities adapting and systems being rebuilt. He volunteered with a charitable organisation geared towards helping people experiencing homelessness. And so, in the midst of the chaos, OneAnother was born, an initiative that aims to build kinder one simple act at a time.
As the saying goes, ‘change is the only constant’, but what stays constant among all that change is the ability to design for it. Eric continues to be inspired and informed by the world around him, in the pursuit of great design.
For as it is said, “Good design is inspired. Great design is inspiring” - Onur Müştak Çobanlı
Homelessness in Numbers | London — The number of people experiencing rough sleeping in London has doubled over the past 10 years. With new initiatives slowly being introduced there might be some hope.
Homelessness in Numbers | United Kingdom — The actual number of people experiencing rough sleeping at any given time is estimated to be 2x-3x more than the official 'Snapshot' estimate.
Current System + One Another — One Another aims to increase the reach of the current system, which is primarily run by homeless-based charities, by creating a platform which involves locals and businesses in the community.
A Future with One Another | Hygiene — Laundrettes, second-hand clothing stores and hostels with showers, are just a few of the businesses that can be made accessible to people who need it to take care of their hygiene needs.
A Future with One Another | Sustenance — Corner-stores, cafes and supermarkets, are just a few of the businesses that can be made accessible to people who need it to take care of their sustenance needs.
A Future with One Another | Touch-Points — People who want to help and people who need the help, can use local businesses as the touch-points to engage with the platform.
Tools that enable One Another — One Another is based on a digital platform that manifests in the physical world through a screen and and NFC reader. A basic smartphone has the capability to accomplish this, and can be modified to present a visually consistent language for the initiative within the community.
Tools that enable One Another — Using boards hung up in stores, to place the tokens which would be used by all stakeholders in the system, creates an open and unifying message.
Tools that enable One Another — The credibility and visible presence that the initiative has within the community contributes to the level of engagement with the platform.
Homelessness is a circumstance that is devastating, dangerous and isolating. On average, people who are homeless in the UK die at just 44 years old (University of Sheffield, Crisis). The most visible form of homelessness is when people sleep rough by seeking shelter on streets or informal settlements. The number of people rough sleeping in the UK at any given time has doubled in the past 10 years to a conservatively estimated total of 4266 people as of 2019 (Rough Sleeping Snapshot in England, 2019).
People who are homeless face complex issues with mental and physical health, alcohol and substance dependency, security of employment and income, and sense of safety and shelter. People experiencing rough sleeping not only deal with these, but in addition struggle to meet their most fundamental needs like food, water, sleep, showers, toilets, and clean clothes. Addressing their basic wellbeing can transform their ability and motivation to subsequently address their more complex needs that would lift them out of their current circumstances.
One Another was born out of Bethnal Green, London, through interactions with people experiencing homelessness, volunteers, locals, and business owners. It connects people in the community who want to help, to people who can use the help. It is essentially a new transaction model by which people can pay for basic goods and services, like food, laundry, and showers. People experiencing homelessness
can choose to access these services through local businesses in the area. One Another primarily increases the current insufficient access, run by homeless-specific entities like day centres and charities, and instead integrates all members of the community, by enabling access to commonly used entities like corner shops, cafes, launderettes and hostels.
It is designed to work using affordable and easily available technology like NFC-enabled cards and touchscreen NFC readers, connected to a central database. The token-like cards are the physical transaction medium whose value is held digitally and can be loaded and redeemed at local businesses in the area using the NFC-readers, in exchange for goods and services. The cards and the transaction system are sponsored and managed by a trust set up to run One Another.
The impact that One Another aims to create is to build kinder communities, by giving agency and dignity to people experiencing homelessness to meet their basic needs. This impact is sustainable as it cuts out the middleman in charitable donations, making it compelling to engage in the system repeatedly, while improving the local economy in the process. One Another aims not only to meet this fundamental need by bringing people together, building trust and breaking down invisible barriers in the community; but through its impact, serve to advocate to local councils and the Government to ultimately end homelessness.
Medium:NFC, PVC Cards, Digital UI
Carbon footprint of Fashion — The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to carbon emission, even when compared to the oil, gas and transport industry.
Carbon footprint of Fashion | Who is responsible? — Unknown to most people, half the carbon emissions of the clothes we own, are emitted when they are in our possession.
Carbon footprint of Fashion | Extent of the problem
Wearloop in use
People’s routine and behaviour, the dominating influence over why clothes are washed regularly, are shaped by their environment, society and upbringing. In the majority of houses, clothes have only two assigned places – clean clothes are placed in a wardrobe, and dirty clothes in a laundry basket. The lack of a universally accepted space in a house for clothes that have been worn, but can be subsequently reworn, reflects in the social stigma against wearing clothes without being freshly washed. Additionally, distinguishing between everyday contamination like odour, wrinkles and sweat, over other issues like physical dirt and stains, is an effective point of intervention to encourage people away from excessive washing.
Wearloop is a dedicated space to hang clothes at the end of the day. It can be placed on any wall in a room, or even inside a wardrobe or on a door. The garment can also be hung using an ordinary hanger. Once turned on, the active ambient airflow and UV-C light will kill the secondary-bacteria and evaporate any residual moisture and sweat on the garment. This in turn will remove any odours and most wrinkles, rendering the garment suitable for rewear. The clothes can therefore be reworn or placed back in the wardrobe, encouraging minimal washing, and a considerably smaller environmental footprint.
Medium:Stainless Steel, UV-C LEDs, Silicone, Arduino, Electronics
Size:100cm x 3cm x 0.2cm
Currently there are only two primary modes of travel for people with visual impairment, with a cane or with the help of a guide dog. Most often people use a cane, because getting a guide dog can become a considerable commitment of time, money, and resources. For some people however, a fundamental deterrent to getting a guide dog is trust. It is the entrusting of one’s own safety to another being; a responsibility that is not taken lightly by many.
The key difference when travelling with a cane and with a guide dog is that a cane is an obstacle detector while a guide dog is an obstacle avoider. The latter enables a smoother path of travel, avoiding obstacles ahead of time with minimal disruptions. One can travel much faster with a guide dog, without needing total undivided concentration. Even with the other benefits of using a guide dog, like a broader range of sensing, threat detection and companionship, it is widely not considered worth it, at the cost of one’s independence.
Milo reimagines the cane, as a tool for mobility for people with visual impairment. It aims to create an obstacle avoider that retains the agency of the user.