MARTHA THORNE – DESIGN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
On the 26 th April 2018, students of Gateway College of Architecture and Design accompanied
by faculty members had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Prof. Martha Thorne, the
Executive Director of the Pritzker Award Committee and the Dean of IE University, Madrid,
at School of Architecture and Planning, Sharda University, Noida.
The main focus of the lecture given by Prof. Martha Thorne was the impact that designers
and architects can have. She believes that this impact goes beyond the physical intervention.
She said that a designer is one who can come up with an innovative and creative solution,
they can see a 3D future, when others can only perceive the limits.
To further her belief, she gave examples of designers, who have in their own respective ways
had an impact on environment, society, business and even a city.
She talked about Karim Rashid’s design of a recyclable bottle, Bobble, that can also filter
water. Bobble, she further explained, has a simple, uncomplicated and thoughtful design,
showing how the simplest of solutions can leave a big impact on the environment.
Thorne informed us about how needs can lead to the development of life saving instruments
like MassoudHassani’s Mine Kafen, a spherical object that not only detects land mines but
also detonates them. She explained that this design is yet to be perfected but that it holds the
key of saving the many lives lost due to land mine explosions.
She explained the impact of design on business through the example of Van Moof’s bicycle
shipping techniques. Due to problem with damage during the shipping of their electronic
bicycle, Van Moof’s Electrified S, the company decided to use the boxes that insinuated that
they contain flat screen television sets. This lead to careful shipping and 85% decrease in the
complaint rate. She explained how this simple but ingenious idea lead to the rise in sales
Thorne talked about Marina1 in Singapore with its Green Heart. The centre of the complex is
filled with greenery and vertical gardens. Louvers provided along the sides of the building
not only help in providing shade but also in holding the plants for the vertical gardens. This
allowed for a pure environment in Singapore, where the land earlier would have just been
used for construction without giving anything back to nature. She explained the importance
of caring for the city as a whole. All the examples that she gave had one thing in common,
they were based on the designing capabilities of the people in question.
In conclusion, she further enlightened us with her views on design. She believes that a design,
in order to be accepted, needs to meet certain requirements, it should be resilient and
adaptable. She further explained how a designer should be able to see not only the small
picture with all the needed details, but also the big picture with all its complexities and should
be able to work their way through. She said that a designer must understand that all problems
are interconnected and that in order to solve these problems, this connection needs to be
understood. She also emphasized that the solutions that the designers come up with should
be hybrid, in order to meet all the requirements. She ended the lecture by saying something
that designers often seem to forget, DESIGN TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.