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Social design

Social design

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Social design has many definitions and the term is put to very different uses across the globe. Some definitions exist within the design
Design
Design as a noun informally refers to a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system while “to design” refers to making this plan...

 world and refers to design in its traditional sense, meaning the shaping of products and services. Other definitions refer to social design as the creation of social reality; design of the social world.

Responsibility


Within the design world social design is sometimes defined as a design process that contributes to improving human well-being and livelihood
Livelihood
A person's livelihood referers to "means of securing the necessities of life". For instance a fisherman's livelihood depends on the availability and accessibility of fish.- In social sciences :...

. The agenda of social design is inspired by among others' Victor Papanek
Victor Papanek
Victor Papanek was a designer and educator who became a strong advocate of the socially and ecologically responsible design of products, tools, and community infrastructures. He disapproved of manufactured products that were unsafe, showy, maladapted, or essentially useless...

’s idea that designers and creative professionals have a responsibility
Social responsibility
Social responsibility is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual or organization has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the...

 and are able to cause real change in the world through good design. Papanek writes about responsible design. Designers can contribute to designing more ecological products by carefully selecting the materials they use. Papanek also remarks on designing for people's needs rather than their wants. Responsible design includes many directions and one of these is design for the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

. Designers have responsibility over the choices they make in design processes .

Social design thinking within the design world joins developing human and social capital
Social capital
Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...

 with new products and processes that are profitable
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

. Profitability and ownership
Ownership
Ownership is the state or fact of exclusive rights and control over property, which may be an object, land/real estate or intellectual property. Ownership involves multiple rights, collectively referred to as title, which may be separated and held by different parties. The concept of ownership has...

 of the processes are the cornerstones of sustainability
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

 that underpins human well-being. Another author that contributes to the development of this definition of social design is Victor Margolin. He writes in "The Politics of the Artificial" about the "designer's ability to envision and give form on material and immaterial products that can address human problems on broad scale and contribute to social well-being." This ideology
Ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

 is something that social design is built on. In this view social design is an activity that should not be framed with connotations of charity, aid donations, help etc. It is not voluntary work but it should be seen as professional contribution that plays a part in local economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

 or livelihood.

Strategic thinking


Another starting point for outlining social design is strategic thinking
Strategic Thinking
Recent strategic thought points ever more clearly towards the conclusion that the critical strategic question is not “What?” , but “Why?”...

 of design. Creating policies and implementing them on civil level. The two poles: tradition and the market economy can, in one of the models for social design, be placed in interaction
Interaction
Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way causal effect...

, rather than in competition, with each other. An author that has to be mentioned here is Jacque Fresco
Jacque Fresco
Jacque Fresco , is a self-educated structural designer, philosopher of science, concept artist, educator, and futurist. His interests span a wide range of disciplines including several in philosophy, science, and engineering...

 and his Venus Project. He proposes that the future of the social systems needs to be designed by the scientific method. Social design can then be seen as a process that leads to human capabilities that in turn contributes to their well-being. As Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen, CH is an Indian economist who was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to welfare economics and social choice theory, and for his interest in the problems of society's poorest members...

 writes, poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

 is seen as deprivation of capabilities. By focussing on capabilities, rather than e.g. income, Amartya Sen suggests that development within various social aspects of life can contribute to general development. Understanding and using social design processes can contribute to the improvement of livelihood

Designing systems


Another dimension of social design focuses on designing systems that join the elements of communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, new product development
New product development
In business and engineering, new product development is the term used to describe the complete process of bringing a new product to market. A product is a set of benefits offered for exchange and can be tangible or intangible...

 and the environment
Social environment
The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts....

. It is argued that no single area of design is, by itself, sufficient to drive sustainable social development. What is needed is a system of design, one that encompasses all of the areas of design
Design
Design as a noun informally refers to a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system while “to design” refers to making this plan...

, towards an open system with multiple, self-adjusting and complementary actors that aim for a vision of a loosely defined common set of goals.

Outside the design world social design appears in a number of professional environments. There are a growing number of artists, especially in Scandinavia, that use the term social design to describe their work, though the work is exhibited within the art world. These are artist like FOS and Superflex. They come out of a tradition of social art that can be led back to the Futurists, the Dadaists and e.g. the German artist Joseph Beuys.

Social world


The term social design is also increasingly used to describe design of the social world. This definition implicates a perception of a man-made reality, which consequently can only be changed by man, and is changed by man all the time. In this view social design is inescapable, it is there whether people are aware of it or not. The social reality is created as a result of the sum of all our individual actions. There is an emerging discussion of this concept of social design, which encompasses all other definitions of the term.

Initiatives

  • The World Design Research Initiative aka Worldesign, at the University of Art and Design Helsinki TaiK. A general aim of Worldesign is to explore issues relevant to social/welfare/responsible design and to generate theory, as well as applicable systems or models. Its members produce exhibitions, workshops, and publications, which work as tools for testing and evaluating different social design applications. Among the publications are :
    University of Art and Design Helsinki, Working Papers F 31. Potentials: Design in the Field : New Discourse on Craft Development 1-2.Helsinki 2006 (http://www.taik.fi/tutkimus/julkaisut/working_papers.html)
    Miettinen, Satu: Designing the Creative Tourism Experience. A Service Design Process with Namibian Crafts People. Publication series of University of Art and Design Helsinki A 81. Doctoral Dissertation. Gummerus kirjapaino oy. Jyväskylä 2007.
    Miettinen, Satu (ed.): Design Your Action. Publication series of University of Art and Design Helsinki B 82. Gummerus kirjapaino oy. Jyväskylä 2007.

  • Architects Arup
    Arup
    Arup is a global professional services firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom which provides engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of the built environment. The firm is present in Africa, the Americas, Australasia, East Asia, Europe and the...

     Associates designed the award winning The Druk White Lotus School
    The Druk White Lotus School
    The Druk White Lotus School is located in Shey, Ladakh, in northern India.The school was started at the request of the people of Ladakh who wanted a school that would help maintain their rich cultural traditions, based on Tibetan Buddhism, while equipping their children for a life in the 21st...

     in the Indian Himalaya along social design principles.

Articles


See also

  • Ethics
    Ethics
    Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

  • Experimental home
    Experimental home
    An experimental home is a home with new design or function in order to improve living conditions....

  • Social Change
    Social change
    Social change refers to an alteration in the social order of a society. It may refer to the notion of social progress or sociocultural evolution, the philosophical idea that society moves forward by dialectical or evolutionary means. It may refer to a paradigmatic change in the socio-economic...

  • Sustainable design
    Sustainable design
    Sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.-Intentions:The intention of sustainable design is to "eliminate negative environmental...

  • Social responsibility
    Social responsibility
    Social responsibility is an ethical ideology or theory that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act to benefit society at large. Social responsibility is a duty every individual or organization has to perform so as to maintain a balance between the economy and the...


Advocates / Practitioners

  • John Emerson
  • Alistair Fuad Luke
  • Dawn Hancock / Firebelly Design
  • Steven Heller
  • Tibor Kalman
    Tibor Kalman
    Tibor Kalman was an influential American graphic designer of Hungarian origin, well-known for his work as editor-in-chief of Colors magazine....

  • Victor Margolin
  • Bruce Mau
    Bruce Mau
    Bruce Mau is a Canadian designer. Mau is the creative director of Bruce Mau Design, and the founder of the Institute without Boundaries.-Life and career:...

  • Victor Papanek
    Victor Papanek
    Victor Papanek was a designer and educator who became a strong advocate of the socially and ecologically responsible design of products, tools, and community infrastructures. He disapproved of manufactured products that were unsafe, showy, maladapted, or essentially useless...

  • Rick Poynor
    Rick Poynor
    Rick Poynor is a British writer on design, graphic design, typography and visual culture. He began as a general visual arts journalist, working on Blueprint magazine in London. After founding Eye magazine , which he edited from 1990 to 1997, he focused increasingly on visual communication...

  • John Thackara
    John Thackara
    John Thackara is founder and Director of The Doors of Perception . This event production company organises festivals in Europe and India in which grassroots innovators work with designers to imagine sustainable futures - and take practical steps to realize them...


Organizations

  • CEDC - Center for Educational Design and Communication http://www.cedc.org - a nonprofit organization that uses design and communications as "tools by which we further justice, education and social change."
  • DESIGN 21: Social Design Network http://www.design21sdn.com - an online community that brings together socially conscious designers, non-profits, individuals and organizations to promote design for the greater good. It is co-founded by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • Design Council
    Design Council
    The Design Council is a United Kingdom non-departmental public body incorporated by Royal Charter and registered as a charity.Registered charity number 272099.- In the beginning :The Design Council started in 1944 as the Council of Industrial Design...

     - UK.
  • Massive Change
    Massive Change
    Massive Change is an exhibition and book by designer Bruce Mau and the Institute without Boundaries.-Purpose:The exhibition, which was commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery and sponsored by Altria, looks at how design can be used as a methodology to address the problems inherent to our social,...

     - Explores the legacy and potential, the promise and power of design in improving the welfare of humanity. It originated as a collaboration between Bruce Mau Design and the Institute without Boundaries.
  • o2 Global Network
    O2 Global Network
    O2 Global Network is an international network for people interested in sustainable design. The network is made up of the O2 Global Network foundation, regional hubs, local groups, liaisons and individuals...

     - International network on sustainable design
  • Social Designer http://socialdesigner.com - an online competition platform and marketplace for socially conscious goods
  • SocialDesignSite http://www.socialdesignsite.com - International platform on Social Design projects
  • WorldChanging
    Worldchanging
    Worldchanging is an American non-profit online magazine and blog about sustainability and social innovation. At 19/09/2011, it was taken over by Architecture for Humanity....

    - Online magazine that works from a simple premise: that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us.

External links

  • Osocio http://osocio.org/ - Blog featuring social advertising and non-profit campaigns from around the globe
  • Social Design Notes http://backspace.com/notes/ - Notes and commentary on social design projects
  • SocialDesignSite http://www.socialdesignsite.com - Site listing social design projects
  • Good http://www.good.is- Collaboration of individuals, businesses, and nonprofits pushing the world forward
  • Market the Future http://www.fearless-future.com/wordpress/ - blog that discusses social design and marketing