On trust

Could our sixth sense be trust?

drinks in peace

Many of my friends working in the world of design have described an experience I am quite familiar with as well: when you start working on a brief, EVERYTHING seems to relate to it somehow. I have been having a similar experience with the notion of trust and love.

My soon-to-start internship will be in a young design studio focused on organizing 1 to 3 day interactive design workshops to develop a new understanding of design as co-design and its future for the participants. I found the internship because I had spoken to a friend who planned to help setup a FABLAB and had also helped out on such events. In other words I have gladly engulfed myself into the world of ‘co-design.’

Trust may still seem slightly disconnected, but it isn’t. A few weeks ago I attended a slightly informal event organized by OUIshare on the future of collaborative economies. The talk was more of an overview of a tour they had gone on around France for two weeks followed by a series of pitches by ‘co-consumer entrepreneurs’. Regardless, two things hit me then and have ever since been woven into my soul:

1. They described how the main issue with car sharing, appliance-sharing, co-working… was that the desire to be in a community was suffocated by a fear, a distrust of the ‘other’.

no can do sir

2. All of the entrepreneurs praised collaborative consumption but NOT collaborative production or supply. They were still in a very narrow mindset (in my eyes) of the ‘free-market‘ competition state of mind (my offer vs. your offer).

neither can we

I think the two are directly interrelated. It’s almost like parents saying: ‘Do as I say, not as I do!’ I believe competition may be a good motivator for creation, innovation and discovery. Nonetheless by competition I mean a healthy one. One where we help each other, one where competing services can overlap, interact, support each other. I am then told this is called a monopoly… And I can see why, but let’s walk through a little story of mine.

During my semester in Japan, twenty or so students were (almost like a niche market¬†provider) working on the same project. We were able to differentiate one from the other by talking and sharing our experiences, discoveries (of course it wasn’t always that smooth). At one point my project was nearly identical to another student’s and it became like walking side my side, it was comforting and we were able to help each other, find twice as many solutions, and in the end turn in significantly different yet connected projects because in part of our personalities.

That demanded trust in the sense that we trusted that we weren’t after each others’ concept and we trusted ourselves to have something different in the end. It is true that our situation was calmer, safer than the real marketplace because we were not fighting for a single carrot and that instead we were each promised a grade unaffected by the others’ performance; it is also true that a course’s grade is nothing in a lifetime’s career, instead it is the experience we gather. I can promise you that working that way, in trust (a first for me), was incredibly eye-opening.


Consumer products design (a practice my university thrives in) lives for the most part (I must recognize that many teachers and students do not necessarily agree with blinded over production) in distrust and fear-driven competition in barely perceptible ways, dust particles that unite into unsurmountable partitions. On one side you have designers that design for a brand they venerate, they shop in secret in other brands to do what they call ‘research’ but hesitate to wear their purchases in the office out of peer-pressure, as if the simple act of buying a beautiful object could be an act of disloyalty, treachery… Then they market their goods by competing with other brands on the sole premise that they will be a better than the guy next door AND better than the last model that JUST DID NOT HAVE THE SAME STITCHING, and just SOOOO last season! A similar, mirrored process appears on the consumer end. These are again tiny specs of animosity, dust gathering, but soon, without realizing, we are too sick to do anything about it.

designer shoes

The solution in my eyes seems to be trust. To support each other in competitive environments, and consciously nourish a sense of trust.

This is where I think new approaches to producing and supplying services and goods can greatly help set in motion this paradigm shift. There are amazing works happening in that world which I will try to start cataloguing through this blog.



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