Davide Fassi, Anna Meroni, Giulia Simeone

article – Meroni_Fassi – Simeone_DesignforSocialInnovationasaformofDesignActivism-Anactionformat


This paper presents and discusses an in-progress action format developed through a reflection on several design experiments aiming to make things happen. It brings to the already rich debate on social innovation a designer’s perspective mainly focused on action research and field actions. It is an action format of design for social innovation, the ‘Social Innovation Journey’, structured on a non-linear sequence of steps and actions that progressively engage a community and help it to set up and prototype a social innovation. This happens through an event-like pilot initiative: a ‘farewell’ initiative that, while prototyping the innovation, releases its full ownership to the community. The action format is illustrated through research projects and training activities which have brought designers to design ‘with’ the social innovators, that’s to say side by side with the them, in a pretty immersive way. The ‘Social Innovation Journey’ is an open, in-progress, framework for intervention set up by the Polimi DESIS Lab, the Politecnico di Milano based laboratory of the international network DESIS – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability. It comprises a network of researchers adopting a strategic and systemic approach to design, with a specific focus on designing for services and design activism. It explores how design can enable people, communities, enterprises and organisations to kick off and manage innovation processes by co-designing and setting in place experiments of new services and solutions.