We Solve Problems Around Us on Our Own! (2)

Service design to heal the minds of abused children (2018)

As an art psychotherapist, I accidentally witnessed an abused child awaiting investigation by a relevant authority in Seoul. The child was sitting alone on a chair looking uneasy for about 30 minutes while the guardian reported the case and went through the administrative procedure. I thought that a simple toy would help the child calm down psychologically. Proposer Oh Hee-jeong


Hoya Toto Doll / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

When a case of a child abuse is reported, the abused child is separated from parents, needs to wait at a police precinct or police station to undergo an investigation and has to live in a child protection agency. During this process, the child feels uneasy and stressed by unfamiliar spaces and people. In addition, the child may feel the guilt of causing this situation by his or her own fault. “Hoya Toto” was devised as a solution to resolve the anxiety of abused children in the unfamiliar environment by forming a bond with police officers. 


“Hoya Toto Doll and Play Box” to calm abused children while they wait alone / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

The Hoya Toto solution developed in 2016 was installed and distributed at Songpa Police Station and Seoul Crisis Intervention Center for Women and Children. In particular, a child-friendly space was created at Songpa Police Station to install comfortable chairs and cushions, which would help children relieve some tension. The solution was modified and supplemented in 2018 to expand its application to all Seoul Crisis Intervention Centers for Women and Children. Five play kits that help children focus on playing alone and affectionate dolls that can be carried at any time and place were provided. 


Solution applied to Songpa Police Station in 2016. The exclusive space was decorated with child-only desks, chairs and animal wallpaper. This design creates a comforting mood by reducing the anxiety of children. / Data provided by the SMG

Service design for mutual cultural learning (2020)

Multicultural education in Korea is focused on helping children of multicultural families adapt to Korean culture. In order to ensure that our society pursues “equality” instead of difference, we need to switch the concept of education to mutual culture, where all students grow cultural sensitivity. Proposer Han Hye-na


Children playing together with Kuk Kuk Kok Kok / Data provided by the SMG

Korea is home to two million foreign nationals and one million multicultural families, but its “multicultural sensitivity education” is still at an elementary level. Most multicultural education programs aim to help multicultural children understand and adapt to Korean culture. On the contrary, developed countries emphasize “equality for all” as a curriculum to eliminate discrimination against race, skin color, and country of birth and cultivate the ability to cope with diversity since childhood. 

We learned about the favorite food of our friend’s family by playing a game!


“Kuk Kuk Kok Kok” board game that helps naturally perceive diversity through food from different countries. This board game is used during multicultural classes at elementary schools. / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

Kuk Kuk Kok Kok, a board game that helps children naturally learn diversity through food from different countries, was distributed to 80 elementary schools in Seoul, 50 national libraries, district libraries, and children’s libraries, and Multicultural Family Support Centers and Community Kium Centers in each district of Seoul. This board game is provided with a video explaining how to play and a worksheet. Multicultural classes for 3rd and 4th graders can use the board game, spending a joyful time to learn about cultural diversity.

Service design for proper disposal of medicines (2021)

How should we dispose of medicines at home? I heard that medicines have an adverse impact if they are discarded as general garbage or thrown down the toilet or sink because they contaminate the drinking water. I want to learn the proper disposal method. Proposer Lee Ju-hyeon


“Medicine Slip Box” stickers that can be attached to guide proper medicine disposal and write the expiration date / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

Most people have first-aid medicines like cold medicines and ointments in their home. The disposal method is as important as the method of use. If medicines are randomly thrown away, they can cause risks of environmental pollution and ecosystem disturbance. Liquid medicines that are thrown down the toilet or sink flow into rivers and the sea through the sewer, eventually having an adverse impact on fish and water we drink. Landfilling is also dangerous. Medicines that absorb into the ground can threaten human health in the long term. In fact, medicines flowing out of a steroids plant in France contaminated 60% of the fish in the downstream area. 


Minibook that teaches the proper disposal method of waste medicines / Data provided by the SMG, photo by: 516 Studio

The best method is to administer medicines as prescribed, so none of them are thrown away. Medicines should be stored in the proper storage location. Disposal is as important as administration. Emphasizing the need for the proper disposal of medicines, the SMG developed the “Medicine Slip Box” to inform people the proper method of medicine use. The Medicine Slip Box is a project that explains the proper methods of using and disposing of medicines that we did not realize. Waste medicines that become no longer necessary after the expiration date can be discarded by slipping them into the box. The box separately collects different types of medicines, such as pills, liniments, liquids, and powder. People are guided to properly dispose of medicines in the waste medicine collection box available at nearby pharmacies, community health centers, and community service centers. The Medicine Slip Box was also used during public health education at elementary schools in Seoul. It offered an opportunity for children to realize how important it is to practice environmental protection.

A mother who wants to see her child with cerebral palsy wear stylish clothes. A visually impaired person with low vision who wants to play at amusement parks like other kids without anyone’s help. A rider who enjoys riding a bicycle against the cool evening breeze at Hangang Park. An art psychotherapist who accidentally saw an abused child awaiting investigation. A neighbor who was always interested in multicultural issues. An ordinary office worker who had a difficult time finding a waste medicine collection box nearby while feeling guilty about the environment. There are no limits or boundaries to design governance. Anyone who wants to express his or her opinions about uncomfortable social issues may participate in the project, regardless of gender, age, occupation, and experience. 

533: Number of proposals received through the website and workshops

5,432: Number of people who participated in the project

53-20: Highest and lowest ages of design governance team members

730,080: Hours spent by 738 project participants


People’s suggestions are like small yet strong seeds. Once we provide an adequate amount of water and sunlight, they bear appetizing fruit and bring benefits to society. The process in which people come up with ideas, those who share the same interest come together, and design policies gain the sympathy of everyone may not go smoothly. Nonetheless, we dream of a brighter future while looking at the small fruit that have just begun to grow. Though they may still be small seeds, perhaps we can anticipate the day when these seeds grow to make a dense forest. 


Design Talk Talk Show (2019). It is an occasion for team members to present the outcomes of the project carried out during the year and discuss improvement methods. / Data provided by the SMG

The roles of design are no longer limited to business. Designs can be applied as a means to solve social problems. The SMG adopted design as the core strategy to make a livable city. Design applies to social issues that are closely associated with the daily lives of individuals, such as crime, aging, dementia, school violence, stress, and obesity. Such designs are called social problem-solving designs. 

This series was carried out for seven occasions, showing how the SMG applied designs to solve various social problems. Citizens stood at the very center throughout the entire process. Cities that do not change decline. It is time that different bodies come together to identify public problems and seek efficient solutions. Looking back on how the social problem-solving design project of the SMG changed our everyday life, we imagine further changes to come. We await a happy, stress-free, healthy, and safe life where everyone is cared for, from adolescents to seniors.

Category related contents
Hashtag related contents