(With contributions of Louise St. Pierre,
Associate Professor in Emily Carr University of Art + Design)

In the panorama of a network of Design Labs based in design schools and in other design-oriented universities, DESIS promotes and supports international exchange among its members for research and academic purposes.

The global network fosters the possibilities for experimenting in diverse settings by taking advantage of a host’s local link with academics, communities, enterprises and practitioners. This nurtures research exchange among the DESIS partners worldwide.

Carla Cipolla – international coordinator of the DESIS Network and coordinator of the UFRJ/Coppe DESIS Lab at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) – has invited Annalinda De Rosa to investigate design education methodologies in the UFRJ context. Annalinda is from the Polimi DESIS Lab, housed in the Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design (Italy).

Annalinda is developing a doctoral thesis at the Politecnico di Milano on the relationship between Spatial Design and Design for Services. She is addressing their disciplinary interconnections in research and applied approaches, as well as in educational methodologies and processes. The primary research focus is on design education in Spatial Design and Service Design disciplines. The research deals with concepts, reflections and in-the-field experiments for social innovation in urban public spaces. These experimental design-led methods and processes could become a common thread to inform educational future strategies.

Annalinda will conduct a four week workshop, from March 23rd until April 14th, 2017, within the masterclass of the Product Design course in Management Engineering, taught by Carla at UFRJ. The workshop asks students to reflect on how urban public space issues in specific areas of the city of Rio de Janeiro can be turned into design opportunities. Students will compare observations of their own daily use of public space, their personal experience as citizens (both as locals and newcomers) with the experiences of other citizens. The goal of the workshop is to interpret personal observations along with citizen’s needs in order to develop meaningful urban scenarios.

The methodology is drawn from both spatial and service design approaches, encouraging students to act as problem-seekers more than problem-solvers when they research urban contexts. This will foster their capacity to understand socio-cultural, political and commercial factors when they design scenarios for brand new interactions in the urban context.

The comparison between more formally institutionalized areas rich in basic infrastructure to the marginalized or underserved areas affected by social exclusion will inform research practices of design for social innovation within the doctoral thesis. This project also benefits from interviews and exchange with academics and practitioners in the hosting city.

The collaboration with UFRJ/Coppe DESIS Lab will add specific knowledge and skills to Annalinda’s work, thanks to the distinct challenges that Rio de Janeiro public spaces offer to the investigation, and to the specific approach that management engineering students bring to this topic.