Jane Cox

Prin­ci­pal, Cause and Af­fect; board direc­tor, Van­cou­ver De­sign Foun­da­tion

Vancouver Magazine - - DESIGN CITY - —As told to D.K.

Though she hails from Van­cou­ver Is­land, Jane Cox spent years work­ing for cor­po­rate de­sign firms in Lon­don, Eng­land—and now she blends her West Coast roots and English so­phis­ti­ca­tion to make change and in­spire oth­ers through con­nec­tion and cul­ture.

How would you de­scribe Van­cou­ver’s cur­rent de­sign scene?

Peo­ple are op­er­at­ing at a global level now. Peo­ple are trav­el­ling more; peo­ple are on­line more. So you’re not just fac­ing in­side your com­mu­nity, you’re con­nect­ing ev­ery­where—all around the world. There are dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives com­ing into the city all the time, and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for mash-ups, which I think are the most ex­cit­ing things in de­sign.

When I came back to Van­cou­ver [from Lon­don in 2003], there wasn’t much of a con­nec­tion be­tween the dis­ci­plines. So I saw this op­por­tu­nity to not only con­nect the de­sign in­dus­try to it­self—like to other de­sign­ers to cre­ate in­ter­est­ing things—but also to look at the city. I looked at Van­cou­ver it­self as a project. Like, what can I do? How can I help de­sign this city bet­ter?

How does your work af­fect the way Van­cou­verites ex­pe­ri­ence the city?

I would say that the two things that drive me are cul­ture and con­nec­tion. When I think about a city, I look for op­por­tu­ni­ties for or­ga­ni­za­tions that I think are do­ing things to make the city bet­ter. There’s a process in­volved to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on chang­ing their be­hav­iours, or we have to do things dif­fer­ently to make some­thing bet­ter. What that causes is peo­ple in a city see­ing that new thing and then be­ing ex­cited about it be­cause of the way I’ve thought about de­sign­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence.

Peo­ple don’t like new some­times; they don’t like change. How do we make things that are dif­fer­ent and new but are bet­ter for the world? How do we make them re­ally in­spir­ing and at­tract peo­ple? Even though it’s chang­ing the way some­one might be­have or be used to do­ing some­thing, they’re ac­tu­ally ex­cited to do it be­cause they feel part of mak­ing the city bet­ter.

What’s your his­tory with Van­cou­ver De­sign Week?

De­sign weeks hap­pen all around the world, where the city ded­i­cates a week to cel­e­brat­ing de­sign in their city. And we thought: Van­cou­ver is ready for that. We have the con­tent here; we have the tal­ent. The de­sign com­mu­nity it­self doesn’t have op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­nect to each other.

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