Through the theme of LAByrinth: Dare Another Way, ThoughtMatter’s second annual Summer Salon will explore the unique blend of intuition and experimentation that creative thinkers use to find their way through an increasingly labyrinthine world. As the complexity of the problems that our society faces intensifies, the demand for new ways of doing and thinking grows exponentially. But creativity thrives under pressure, and periods of upheaval are also opportunities for great leaps forward.

To prepare for this year’s event, we sat down with each of our three speakers to learn about how they have forged new paths forward in their respective fields, and how they approach complex challenges. Here, we hear from ADIFF founder and director Angela Luna about knowing what you don’t know, and the importance of developing understanding.

I always say I design for other people, and not necessarily for myself. When I’m looking at a given problem, I start out by trying to gain as much insight on different perspectives as possible. All of the pieces in my original collection were actually specifically designed for disaster relief, with refugees in mind. I could see that there was a need for flexible, easily transportable shelter, which suggested tents. But I hadn’t really ever slept in a tent, myself; I didn’t grow up in a camping family, so trying to actually design a tent that was durable and comfortable was a totally new experience.

To create the Tent Jacket, I started out by looking for whatever resources I could find to better understand the context—both the refugee experience, and just the physical experience of using a tent. I was living in New York while I was developing this project, and it’s illegal to pitch a tent in the city. I ended up purchasing some tents on Amazon and deconstructing them in my apartment, trying to get a better sense, measuring weight and measuring waterproof ratings, everything I could. Once I had a working prototype I made sure to test it out outside.

When I had the opportunity to visit some camps in Greece, I talked to a bunch of people to learn more about how they perceived the different pieces. There was this really sweet group of girls that I remember, who said that they really did enjoy all the pieces, regardless of their function. They were just happy to have someone actually thinking about their needs and creating something around the experiences they were going through at the time. Refugees are so often overlooked, and to have some sort of intention or forethought to what their day-to-day life is like was something that they really appreciated.

Angela Luna will be one of three speakers at ThoughtMatter’s Summer Salon on the evening of June 21st, along with Joseph Yoon and Robin Nagle. Learn more about the event.

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