Goodbye Cobalt, Hello Africa

Well I’ve had a fantastic 4 years here at Cobalt. It’s been a very enjoyable experience where I’ve learnt a great deal and had the good fortune to work with a bunch of very talented people. From designing heart starters to toddler scooters to GPS units for tractors, it certainly has been full of diversity – very different to the manufacturing design environment that I had previously been working in. But it is all about to change as Africa beckons yet again.

Since I returned from a year of living in Uganda in 2004 I have had a strong desire to return. From previous editions you may have seen my designs for a clay stove and a water container which were based on problems that I encountered in Uganda. This interest in socially responsible design has led me to start a not-for-profit called Designers with Soul, which I aim to develop further once in Africa. The idea behind the organisation is to work directly with communities to develop sustainable design solutions to local problems. My experience in Uganda has given me an insight into the importance of cultural sensitivity in design and how the community must take ownership of the product in order for it to be sustainable. Therefore I believe the key is to provide these communities with the necessary problem solving skills to then develop solutions and create change for themselves.

While I am in Africa I also plan to explore employment opportunities as an industrial design lecturer. As an education volunteer in Uganda I became aware of the significance that education plays in the future of Africa. Educating the youth to become future leaders and innovators is the key to change. And they need to be able to compete on a global stage. So lecturing in design and sharing the knowledge that I have developed while at Cobalt are also goals of mine while in Africa.

Goodbye from me for now but I’m sure you’ll be reading my updates from Africa in future Newsflashes!

Lorrin Windahl