Ice-cream sticks to lower unemployment

Job creation through participatory design could help to lower unemployment and support sustainability, says design student Chad Peterson.

Enter Chad Peterson, an industrial design student from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and runner-up in the SABS Design Institute’s Design Achievers award.

Peterson developed a business concept that promotes a sustainable way of empowering and employing people. "RawCreatives" is a set of basic tools, skills and materials needed to make high-quality furniture that would easily fit into a modern home. RawCreatives will teach people in impoverished communities the necessary carpentry skills, as well as basic administration and marketing skills, to benefit their small businesses. Peterson believes that the skills learnt through RawCreatives can also be applied in other industries. People would also pass their newly learnt skills onto others, thereby attracting more poeple to the project.

One of the first projects that Peterson proposed in the RawCreatives concept is an "Ice-Cream Stick Bedside Table" made from inexpensive white birchwood ice-cream stick off-cuts. A wooden jig was used to keep the edges straight and then it was glued together using non-toxic wood glue. About 1 500 sticks were used for this simple, yet functional design. The "Twisted Ice-Cream Lamp" was made using the same materials and processes. The "Ice-Cream Stick Floating Shelf" was also designed in the same premise but used only 500 sticks. This process is simple and inexpensive but has the potential to improve the lives of hundreds of people.

The SABS competition, themed Hands-on, Minds-on, Hearts-on, called on students to submit a design business concept that could contribute towards solving a social, environmental, cultural or industrial problem.

Peterson is currently discussing the implementation of "RawCreatives" with a number of NGOs and interest groups in Cape Town.