This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Design Seed: An Approach for the Creation of Design-Based Manufacturing Industries in Under-Industrialized Regions, like, Alabama's Impoverished Black Belt Region




Smith, Mark

Type of Degree



Industrial Design


Almost two hundred years ago, in a crescent shaped region of Alabama that stretches from Alabama’s eastern boundary with Georgia to its western side abutting Mississippi, half of Alabama’s enslaved population of Africans were put to work. In those times the region was known as the Black Belt because of the rich, dark soil that made it ideal for crops. It became the core plantation area in Alabama and vital to Alabama’s economy. So vital, in fact, that 65% of the population in the Black Belt were slaves. Today, the Black Belt in Alabama is also called, “Alabama’s Third World”, and the term Black Belt more commonly refers to a region of Alabama where the blacks outnumber the whites. The legacy, the damage, of slavery can most acutely be seen in this region that exhibits some of the worst rural poverty that can be seen in the United States. The following counties exhibit the characteristic problems of this region: Bullock, Choctaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Pickens, Perry, Sumter and Wilcox. The Design Seed outreach project intends to utilize the material resources of wood and/or paper products found in Alabama’s Black Belt to design a family of educational toys that can be competitively manufactured in the Black Belt. By the creation of a family of products rooted in the needs, and resources of the community, Design Seed seeks to provide the methodology to “seed” Alabama’s Black Belt with viable manufacturing industries with limitless potential. Design Seed is an outreach project that seeks to examine the power of industrial design to create industry under adverse conditions. Design Seed seeks to “grow” manufacturing industries from the ground up in Alabama’s poverty-stricken Black Belt region by designing products with resources found in that area that can be marketed worldwide .