7 DESIS Issue on Design for Social Innovation

Anna Meroni

The DESIS Network has recently undertaken an international action of reflection on the transversal knowledge developed through the many initiatives of the Labs: projects, research actions, thematic clusters, philosophy talks, etc.
Its final aim is to reinforce the academic vision/mission of DESIS and make more explicit what design can do for social innovation.

To do so, 7 ‘transversal issues’ have been identified. They are hot topics of the today discourse around social sustainability, they are not conventionally connected to the practice of design, and require a systemic and strategic viewpoint to be addressed.
Since they emerged as recurring issues in the DESIS Network’s research and practice on design for social innovation, they are likely to be distinctive elements of this approach:

  1. Governance and policymaking
  2. Activism and civic participation
  3. Social interactions and relations
  4. City and environmental planning
  5. Production, distribution and consumption
    5.A. Food and agriculture
    5.B. Manufacturing and energy
  6. Job creation, entrepreneurship and training
  7. Storytelling and visualisation

1. Governance and policymaking – the interplay between top-down and bottom up actions and its implications on governance and planning; the way diverse stakeholders participate in decision making; the strategy that frames systemic projects.

2. Activism and civic participation – the capacity of individuals, groups and organisations to undertake initiatives and foster change at a higher level; the democratization and openness of the processes; the critical perspective on the mainstream ways of doing and the pro-activism in finding new ways.

3. Social interactions and relations – the potential of the initiatives to foster collaboration, social cohesion, conviviality, connections and sustainability; the quality of interactions; the role of ICT and social networks.

4. City and environmental planning – the impact of social innovation projects on the city, the media, the private and public space; the urban commons; the planning approach by projects.

5. Production, distribution and consumption – the new production/distribution/consumption chains, the ‘0-miles’ solutions, the new technologies and the local assets/resources for more sustainable value creation systems;

5.A Food and Agriculture:

5.B Manufacturing and energy:

6. Job creation, entrepreneurship and training – the potential of the projects to create new job opportunities and social orientated business, the need of building new competences with and for the project initiators, promoters and stakeholders.

7. Storytelling and visualisation – the stories design tells and the tools/formats it uses, the aims and the target of the communication; the power of narration to open up conversations and create social bonds.