The Happiness Project, a collaborative project between Edith Cowan University (ECU) and the City of Fremantle, has wrapped up for 2016. Now in its third year, the project aims to provide ideas for enhancing happiness through human-centred design. Students in Graphic Design and Environmental and Spatial Design courses at Edith Cowan University worked to identify and solve design problems and propose innovative ways to inject happiness into the city.
This year the Happiness Project saw ECU Design students extending design to address social needs for the City of Fremantle. The top three winners successfully incorporated community needs into creative outputs through community platforms to generate public artworks, emphasise Fremantle's musical heritage, and use vegetation and planting as a way to bring the community together.
The People's Choice award won by student Rhys Hughes, was chosen based on its emphasis on empowering the homeless community with real life stories from successful business people in WA. Project coordinator Dr Christopher Kueh said that, “this year’s winning projects are great evidence of the social value of design, when students explored community-based projects that are results of rigorous yet creative design and research process.”
The winners of this year’s project were selected by the Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt. In his speech Dr Pettitt praised the success of the project saying, “It’s fantastic that not only do we get to see some of WA’s best design thinking in this beautiful Freo setting… but we also get to reap the rewards of this great collaboration, which we’ve enjoyed for the past three years with Edith Cowan University and the talented students of the Design School, with projects centred specifically on happiness in Fremantle – something I know we all feel very precious about!"
This years winning project was Blank Canvas, created by Design and Photomedia student Susie Blatchford. Susie describes her winning project as, “a platform to connect the creative and entrepreneurial community of Fremantle with the perfect ‘blank canvas’ for their projects. This includes everything from wall murals, art installations and street gardens to urban games and interactive spaces which encourage people to stay, play and engage.” Susie’s project partners creators with land owners in Fremantle to reinvent the dull or neglected areas of their properties. Her platform is about inexpensive, easy-to-implement ideas that encourage experimental and innovative solutions for transforming the unloved spaces of Fremantle into vibrant and welcoming places for the community.
The runner up was Design student Courtney Thane who was awarded second place for her project Take a Bow. This project involves a suite of L Shaped 1.5m x 1.5m modular staging blocks that are placed around Fremantle in places like main streets, town halls and parks to be used for performance. Each month the blocks are moved to a new location within the City of Fremantle to create an ongoing interest in the project and add a new location, act or variation to see. Courtney says that the aim of her project is, “to turn streets/locations within Fremantle into a mini music festival to encourage music based performance and interaction.”
Courtney also expressed how important the Happiness Project is to the City of Fremantle, “I think The Happiness Project provides a way for Fremantle to explore innovative ways to bring creativity and happiness to their citizens, which is important for a city council to explore and consider the wants and needs of its citizens and visitors. Fremantle has such rich cultures in terms of music, food, art, history and more, so this process is a way to brainstorm and design ideas to continue to have a positive, quirky, emphasis on creativity in Fremantle.”
Both Susie and Courtney will now work in collaboration with the City of Fremantle to work on making their projects a reality throughout the city.