In this moment of unprecedented difficulty, we want to express our closeness and solidarity to all of you. Today more than ever, we would like DESIS to be a common home in which to feel close.

But, since DESIS was born to be a tool with which to produce knowledge and act in reality, with this letter we would also like to start a conversation with you about the dramatic reality in which we find ourselves. A reality that, in addition to much suffering, is also bringing about a great behavioral change. The daily life of billions of people in the world is taking place in a paradoxical way: the one in which the most social behavior is to be separated. That is to be physically as far away from others as possible. A way of being and doing that will certainly have profound and long-term social, cultural and political implications.

Can we live this moment without being overwhelmed? Can we face it with constructive initiatives? Can we learn from this experience something that could allow us to deal not only with this catastrophe so acute today, but also with the environmental and social one (the double catastrophe that, even if today it does not emerge in the public debate, is still dramatically present?).

We know that many of you are already involved in the online reorganization of teaching and research activities. A demanding change that is, in itself, a great social innovation motivated by the on-going crisis. We know that some (such as the Chinese DESIS Lab network) are engaged in projects that address the more general theme of how to help people get out of isolation. We know that a new DESIS Philosophy Talks series has started, entitled “Design and Politics of Nature”. But we also imagine that there are many other initiatives, in progress or planned, that we do not know, but it would be important for everyone to know. Initiatives that a network like ours could and should recognize, transmit, and enhance.

To take the first step in this direction, we invite you to participate in online meetings that will take place on next April 14th and 16th (see at the bottom of this letter the indications on “How to Connect”).

This online meeting aims to apply DESIS Network’s raison d’etre to this new phase: to use our design sensitivity and skills to identify promising cases of social innovation, to exchange experiences to solve immediate problems and to build together a new culture. And a new future.

The meetings have at its centre a more accurate and focused interpretation of the questions asked at the beginning of this letter:

– What are we doing and/or what could we do, as DESIS Labs, to operate in the on-going crisis by making the best use of our design skills and our experiences?

– Are there, or are they in the pipeline, initiatives aimed at alleviating the difficulties of the moment creating, at the same time, the conditions for fairer and more resilient and sustainable social forms?

Beyond these practical questions, there is the hope that our action will contribute to a new wave of social innovation: a social innovation motivated by the coronavirus crisis, but capable of connecting a present of “separation by necessity” with a future of “collaboration by choice”.

We are hoping to meet you online soon, a digital hug to all!

Ezio Manzini and Carla Cipolla
(DESIS President and International Coordinator)

How to connect:
The conversation will take place supported by Zoom platform (click here to learn more). There are two alternatives for you to join the conversation. Just click in one of the links below at the desired timezone. It should redirect you instantly to the conference call. First-time users will need to install the Zoom app on their device (usually, when clicking on one of the links below, Zoom platform activates a guided installation process).

APRIL 14TH – Starts at 12PM (midday) Beijing time (China Standard Time – CST)
Link to join:
Meeting ID: 446 328 112

APRIL 16TH – Starts at 5PM – Milan time (Central European Summer Time – CEST)
Link to join:
Meeting ID: 150 870 120

Click here to see the correct time of the event in your local time.

Any questions, please contact us at