Reaching beyond: Japan one year later

12 March 2012
As we mark the one year anniversary of 3/11 in Japan, it is a time to reflect, remember and acknowledge the resilience of the human spirit. And to recognise the potential of design to improve the quality of life.
As we mark the one year anniversary of 3/11 in Japan, it is a time to reflect, remember and acknowledge the resilience of the human spirit. And to recognise the potential of design to improve the quality of life.

Icograda's Japanese network includes six members organisations and countless individual Icograda Friends. They have unanimously expressed their gratitude for the support of the international design community – who have contributed in ways large and small. To each of you who have helped, thank you.

One year later, daily life in northeastern Japan appears normal. Roads have been rebuilt. Stores have reopened. Reconstruction is creating a boom and the speed of the recovery has captured international attention and admiration.

Our members in 67 countries and regions around the globe stand with Japan today and for the future.

What we can learn by continuing to look forward

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, innovative thinking is applied to address crisis situations. We place people at the centre of our urge to help. New ways of doing things result. New systems are created. New solutions emerge. This type of approach should be part of our everyday use of design.

Last year, we saw clearly how communication design could contribute to the efforts in Japan. We need to ensure these possibilities and ideas are applied as communities continue to rebuild. Better design of information systems - as digital platforms and as community bulletin boards - are just one example of meeting a need that makes relief and reconstruction easier. The benefit goes beyond the short term though - this type of design application makes a difference every day in any community. Being connected through communication brings us together.

The areas of Japan that were hardest hit are also rich in traditional craft knowledge. Niigata prefecture is next to Sendai and the government there supports the integration of this knowledge through design into new applications for today's lifestyle. Bringing this traditional knowledge forward is platform to develop.

Through networks like Icograda's we can look for opportunities to connect these Japanese companies and craft industries to share their experiences in other countries to preserve and pass on the knowledge and skills. It is a means for us to create opportunities for those most affected to stand on their own again so that they have the hope and the ability to rebuild their communities.

Remaining true to this human-centred approach should guide how we use design to serve the needs of people in Japan and worldwide.



Leimei Julia Chiu
Icograda President 2011-2013