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Barcelona Design Week: 'Transforming Society'
- jul. 2017 -

As Barcelona’s reputation continues to grow as a major international hub of creativity and innovation, it was a great opportunity for some of us at Zinc to enjoy and participate in the ecosystem throughout Barcelona Design Week.

The Congress was the central point with fascinating discussions & presentations from key international figures about design and its crucial role within our changing world.

On the first day there were four presentations under the umbrella title of 'Transforming Society', addressing themes around 'User Experience', 'People' and 'Purpose'. Some of the big talking points were around the need to redefine the role of design, how design can become more integrated within the culture of companies, and the role design could play in fields such as activism and social impact where designers can be the catalysts for change by leveraging the creativity of people.

The Facebook team, Joshua Tabakand Caitlin Sanford (Market Researcher and UX Researcher) insisted on the need for the designer to achieve real empathy with the people they are designing for. We need to really understand, identify and define the requirements of those people and we should use local experts / voices to help with understanding cultural differences.

Denis Weil, Dean of the Institute of Design Chicago spoke about 'Design in the Age of Emergence'. Today design must be considered as a method for tranforming society and it’s here that the designer has a role to play in social change. Luis Arnal from Insitum points out the practical process driven nature of design can be really important in helping to define our path forward, a path that must include emotional value and empathy for others.

'Sustainable Transformation by Design' was the title for the second day at the Congress, which covered important topics such as the potential for design to help businesses transform environmental challenges into economic opportunities and create sustainable systems of production and consumption. 

Exhibitions are also a 'must' during BDW. 

There were some great installations in interesting industrial spaces, creating big sensory impact.

One company used the week to create an installation for the promotion of an intriguing new 'Internet of Things' product - Simon100 - that’s focused on the ambience of internal spaces. The designer, Toni Arola, designed the installation in Simon’s Old Factory in Poble Nou, to inspire architects and interior designers of the potential of the Simon100 technology.

'Physical or Digital?'

This was the name of Zinc’s workshop that we opened up to the community during the Design Week.

As the worlds of physical and digital increasingly merge, we asked the crucial questions of ”When and why should objects be ‘Smart’ objects and how do we ensure we are creating truly better experiences for users and society at large?”. 

We invited designers and creatives to come to Zinc and work with us in a challenging workshop where we explored how some of our latest designs of kitchen tools could be converted into ‘Smart tools’ that improve functionality and user experience. We had twenty participants split into three groups over a period of three hours, in which they got to create a concept and present it in a video. There was a ton of creativity and fun, and we thank again those who participated to make it a wonderful creative afternoon at Zinc.

Our major takeaways from Barcelona Design Week


We agree with the major themes at the Congress that design can be a vital tool for transforming society for the better. It’s certainly a key factor in areas such as innovation, sustainability and the improvement of quality of life for people. As designers, it’s important that we really empathasize with the many different people and contexts within society.


We are getting closer to the end of the cognitive age. Computers are increasingly taking over more control of our society and this new reality can seem scary. However, although our reality is changing fast, human creativity will not, and can play an important role in this new world. As designers, we have a responsibility to help inspire and guide a new technology driven world that improves life for humans.


Although Zinc is a very international company, we are really proud to be part of Barcelona’s growing creative ecosystem. We love having the opportunity to share our vision, meet new interesting people / profiles in the city, get inspired by others and hopefully the opportunity to collaborate and create compelling new experiences, not just for Barcelona, but for the world at large!

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