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Sustainability, financial inclusion, what my studio does, and what this website is about

I decided to start my own studio because it was the only way I could combine my interests. Having a studio is a big responsibility. You have to be committed to deliver the work you promise and you are the only responsible for the quality of your work—customers choose you because of the quality of your job.

A studio is a synonym of applied creativity and of mastery of a craft.

People who have studios spend years, or decades, perfecting a craft. Whether is working with wood to make furniture, or with new materials to develop new tools, or mixing new ingredients to make novel flavors, a studio is a canvas for creativity and an opportunity for working with passion.

My craft is an intersection between economic and ethnographic analysis and engineering design; I know it sounds weird, but by combining these disciplines I can understand things more deeply.

One of the advantages of a studio is its openness. With a studio you can follow your guts and decide where to put your efforts and attention. That’s exactly how I came to the realization that I had to work on two important things: sustainability and financial inclusion.

Sustainability is kind of a cursed word, people use it without giving it much thought. It encapsulates many intentions but it’s hard to define. For me, sustainability is a matter of responsibility and commitment. I chose to work on sustainability just because I want the generations to come enjoy the things I’ve enjoyed (and more!); like clean air, a fertile soil, potable water, enormous forests, contact with animals, and a healthy life.

I believe that being sustainable should be about one single action: to rebuild our relationship with nature. Because it looks like we want to believe that we “own” nature, or that “nature is our responsibility”, it is not; we are part of it, we have a purpose in it, and it’s our job to understand or figure out what it is while we exist.

Financial inclusion is the second important matter.

I live in a country were inequality is a default for society. Mexico is a beautiful country that unfortunately hasn’t grown up yet to accept its past and to define its own future. There are people here who suffers, really suffers. There are very critical problems that can’t be solved just with policy, but many of these conflicts can be solved if we help people to access to opportunities. Financial inclusion is just about that: the right to access to opportunities that may help you to meet your basic needs.

Of course, financial inclusion is less important than sustainability, because the ecosystem degradation is a thing that provokes inequality, pandemics, and a general lack of resources, so no matter how much money someone has, our future as species depends on our ability to adapt to changes in nature, thus, sustainability goes first.

How FelipeRM.Studio works.
Diagram of how my studio works.

My work is simple: I took products and businesses and analyse them. Since I have a background in mechanical and electrical engineering, I can study objects from the manufacturing perspective.
For me, engineering is the cornerstone for the most significant sustainability practices.
Sure policy and economic incentives are necessary, but is only by using engineering that we can solve how to remove the toxins and greenhouse gases generated when producing goods.

On the other hand I’ve been studying business models for a long time, and now I know there are especial narratives behind consumerism, capitalism and production, these phenomena are the causes of climate change. Knowing why and how operate many businesses, what are their underlying narratives and its possible consequences not only helps to design better policies it helps to develop more sustainable and inclusive organizations and products.

The next three activities are the foundations of my work:

Expeditions are the way to stay alert, to be aware of problems and relevant phenomena for sustainability and financial inclusion. Exploring, asking questions, noticing how people use some product, service, or system, is precisely how I confirm my hypothesis, and how I can make better questions. The the expeditions confirm or deny assumptions, that’s why doing them is so important.

Reverse engineering analysis (or as I call them: deconstructions): I take a product, measure it, open it, disassemble it, and I document what I found. Then I investigate how it may be done, what patents and licenses are behind it, and how much it costs economically and environmentally to develop it. But underneath this analysis I ask if the product is even necessary, what are the narratives that allow its existence, and how people really use it. These deconstructions are made on physical and digital objects.

For financial inclusion projects, both expeditions and deconstructions help to understand problems. I could only study the theory and see how people use their money, but every culture solve their needs in different ways depending where they live, and what resources they can access. And, other thing that is very important to consider, is the technological transition of the economic system; so, a kind of ethnographic research is necessary for understanding how people could access to reliable information, credit systems, cash, and so on. Once again, deconstruction and expeditions are powerful tools.

Then I do the research. This is the part where I have to find papers, books, articles and other relevant sources of information. This is a long, sometimes tedious process, but is totally necessary for complementing the former two activities.

I enjoy this work, is intensive, but I enjoy it, nevertheless, I have to transform it into something that serves you and that helps me to sustain it.

That’s why I take the results and conclusions of my studies, analysis, expeditions and research I publish articles and contents. Since producing content and composing and editing articles is another intensive task, I decided to set up a membership/subscription for those who want to access to the extended content, to the notes and information sources, and for those who believe in my work and want to have a closer look at the work in progress.

I intend to develop products, platforms and workshops too, because I’m deeply interested in working with people who want to design and build more sustainable and inclusive products, services and business projects. I consider very important to work with people because many times, when building a project, few people actually can help you, and I want to be useful and put to use my knowledge.

This is a web platform based in WordPress, and I designed and built it to be a source of good reliable information for your projects. You will find here contents about design, engineering business models, usability, technology, economics, policy, urban development, craftsmanship, manufacturing processes and more.

My articles flirt with journalism, but I am not a journalist. Since I have a background in engineering and I’ve been working in design for a few years I know of what I’m talking, nevertheless take my words with a grain of salt. And finally, in order to avoid a little bit of my own bias, I rarely share my personal opinions, I am not an essayist and the publications here are not essays, I’m only sharing what I notice, what I observe.

If you are working on product design, business strategy, finances or even if you are designing your investment portfolio, maybe you’ll find interesting and useful what I publish here. At least I hope that my work serves as a tool for people who is thinking of building a more fair and responsible future.

Thanks for reading.

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