AOD Designs Social Spaces to Channel a Blueprint for Change at TEDx Colombo 2016

Sri Lanka’s young design nucleus AODjoined hands with TED global movementto inspire and educate through creativity and innovation

TEDx Colombo was held last weekend with a host of partners including AOD – Sri Lanka’s leading design educator. Hosted under the theme ‘Blueprint for Change’, TEDx Colombo attracted a large crowd of creative thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs and interested youth. AOD was the official partner for social spaces at the event and designed a series of interactive and educational spaces at the venue – NelumPokuna Mahinda Rajapakse Theatre. The partnership forged a new mean of interacting and educating with the event participants and allowed them to witness how design and creativity fuel modern innovation for commerce and industry through immersive social spaces.

AOD’s social spaces at TEDx were connected to the event theme ‘Blueprint for Change’. With change being a constant process that affects us as a society and as individuals, it carried the wide scope to include multiple disciplines that impact human lives. Exploring the current global movements in AOD’s forte- design, the social spaces at TEDx highlighted important discussions in fashion, animation and graphic design and how they affect modern human lives. The spaces were curated in collaboration between AOD’s international faculty and young student talent.

AOD founder Linda Speldewinde stated that design’s role in instigating a positive change across society is massive; a visionary entrepreneur and business innovator herself, Speldewinde said that designers serve as important change-agents in society which makes their education all the more important. “Design is something that can influence change because it has the potential to collaborate with almost any sector whether it is technology, an export product or even something as serious as a diplomatic relationship. This universal nature of design places designers among the most powerful change agents in society. This is why AOD joined hands with TEDx Colombo; we felt that design had a big role to play in this year’s theme that embraces the power of change when we harness it properly and design is one of the best ways to do this.”

The design talent of AOD put together social spaces reflecting new thinking for fashion; these showed how fashion industry related disasters, such as the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse due to adverse working conditions, exposed the true cost of cheap fashion and how this sparked a global reaction to pay fair wages and implement decent working standards for garment workers. AOD’s fashion students also shed light on where mass fashion manufacturing took place around the world, as well as the initiatives to spark a change in the global fashion industry, such as the international Fashion Revolution movement which AOD is the official Sri Lankan representative for. Simultaneously, participants also got the opportunity to understand simple animation techniques to visualise motion plus, experiment on word-play to come up with ideas that had the potential to change their own lives.

AOD principal Karen MacLeod mentioned that AOD students are encouraged to become part of new collaborations of this nature that help them grow as individuals as well as design professionals; “Our approach to design education is not only theory and hands-on skill practicing. We create opportunities for students to collaborate with people from disciplines outside design which really helps them to progress as individuals and strengthen their role as designers. This kind of experience paired with the British design curriculum from Northumbria that we offer, allows our students to graduate as fully-fledged designers capable of working with businesses, industry and other professionals.”

AOD is currently the only educator to offer 100% internal, complete UK design degrees in Sri Lanka. Offered in partnership with the prestigious Northumbria University UK, these degrees are accepted anywhere in the world, and gives local students access to global design currency. AOD works closely with the major industries of Sri Lanka, and AOD graduates are now preferred design professionals by industry; a trait that has enabled AOD to maintain a consistent 100% employment rate for the past eight years. The partnership between AOD and TEDx Colombo is part this AOD vision to bridge design and innovation with business and development infrastructures.