Design Thinking can be applied to almost everything. But the question is, can be applied for the voiceless, the invisible, the institutionally disenfranchised? Can design change the lives of the homeless people? Kenji Nakayama and Christopher Hope are the autors of the project Signs for the Homeless.
This project started in Boston and Cambridge, and they hope that will expand in other states. The project exchanges handwritten panhandling signs for colorfully illustrated, eye-catching recreations that aim to give the homeless a power that most of us take for granted: The power to be noticed.
The basic concept behind the ongoing project is that the two artists approach homeless people on the streets who are holding signs and propose an exchange. Essentially, Nakayama and Hope offer $10 and create hand painted signs for each person they come across. But the tattered signs that the people on our streets wave a thousand times a day to catch our attention aren’t just for begging.
They want to rip those blinders off, with graphic design. Good design helps you see the world in a different way. Design is a powerful force that can help overpower people’s preconceptions and attract us to the very things we were once repelled by. Good design can’t in itself help the lives of the homeless, but it can help give the homeless back their voice and humanity. If it can do that, design doesn’t need to solve the homeless problem we can do it ourselves.
Here are some more images of this project: