Light, Local, Repairable

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The article presents a brief visual overview of the educational experiment at the Arctic Design School, Russia, that was a design-driven foresight on micro-scale mobility in the geographical periphery of Russia. The overview includes two student projects of developing locally appropriate ATVs for remote, roadless areas with severe climate conditions. During the work, students studied publicly available sources on “vernacular design,” also known as—since Soviet times—the movement of DIY-enthusiasts of garage-making and tinkering. They also explored the very meaning of the environmental and social context of making/using/repairing locally appropriate vehicles by drawing from firsthand observations of relevant practices on site. Then, reflecting critically on the concept of an ideal ATV, they worked on its aesthetic component by employing the method of artistic composition. As a result, students came up with design proposals built upon existing vehicles invented by local makers from selected regions of Russia. The article concludes with calling up design professionals to contribute to the development of ethically and aesthetically appropriate solutions that could be integrated into local knowledge networks while respecting existing actors and patterns of use.