Fig: 1 – Abandoned streets and changing landscapes
The market scenario is changing rapidly with every passing decade. With technology pushing almost every digital interaction automated from the warehouse to home solutions, the streets are a choice now and not a go-to destination for all of us.
A social network to the city in the offline realm, the streets have been a place to serve the city by people from all backgrounds of life.
The digital motion not only moves a lot of economic activity to screens – it builds a huge wall for people especially from lower strata to participate in commerce activities freely. And the public health concerns at the same time has changed the game entirely for most of these breadwinners who in turn made our streets how they used to be.
What does this mean for the future? And especially the future of the streets?
Fig: 2 – Pandemic driving popularity of street market down – (Image: NYT)
The lockdowns may have been very temporary yet their impacts are still existent on the city life. People are not preferring to eat on the streets let alone the restaurants.
Vendors are pushed to invest more in selling things that no one wants to buy – especially in the food sector which holds a lot of share in the public street life. The changing market dynamics hit most severely the people with the thinnest economic cushion.
When corporations face a huge alienation crisis like this, they hire expensive consultancy services to find the grip on the market they’ve been replaced from recently and have the budget to reinvent their product chain entirely. (E.g. The Gas car to electric transition)
Such options are never available with small vendors and markets they serve. They try to fit the ideas they know with whatever small information they have and try again. But will it help?
Fig: 3 – Elements of a street cart - An idea
The challenge vendors face is unprecedented especially when the entire commerce is now an upstream ride for them. How can we as designers help them restructure their businesses a little? How can we with the limited knowledge we have, open a gateway to them reaching unlimited possibilities of relevance in 2020? How can we empower them with new tools that help them stay relevant in changing times like today?
The design challenge is to develop a handcart concept for vendors that helps them reinvent their commerce methods considerably. The design should be lean and cost-effective for the investment they can make and open new means to utilize the inherent qualities of selling on the street and not being pinned to any location. The design should use available technologies and hybrids like smartphones, etc. to give them a much-needed boost.
This is a multi-level challenge where the first competition will seek only the cart design, followed by a next challenge that will call for plugins that can be built on the winning design.
Trend identification: Identify places, spaces, and possibilities in 2020-2021 what are the needs of people? What do they expect? How can we serve them?
Design Reinvention: Analyse traditional handcart designs in your region that can be a possible beginning for your design you can choose to build on the same design or reinvent it from entirely scratch.
Robust: Develop this concept as a design bench that has the ability to evolve change in the future, and can take intensive use during its lifetime. Parts of the design can be motorized too.
Expansion: Prepare outlets, joineries, fittings – that build a room for small plugins that can be attached to this cart to develop/change/evolve/grow commerce methods in the future. The joineries and junctions you propose will be used to develop the next design.