(by Audrey Bennett and Deepa Butoliya)

Stamps DESIS Lab at the University of Michigan in the United States hosted the DESIS Cafe on May 19th, 2021. The event was co-hosted by Dr. Deepa Butoliya, Nick Tobier, Dr. Roland Graf, and Dr. Ron Eglash. The co-hosts engaged an international assemblage of DESIS Labs in informal conversation around how we can think about “making just futures” by integrative design. What are the roles that can be played by speculative design, combining cosmopolitanism and localism, and rethinking concepts of social proximity and physical proximity? 
The co-hosts started with brief presentations of their research and creative work in the context of local marginalized communities like Detroit, Michigan. Some of the projects presented by Stamps DESIS Lab generated a stimulative and informative discussion of the topics of repair and appropriation. While there were some members who could talk in favor of ideas of appropriation like Jugaad, some expressed their concerns and importance of these topics by invoking the writings of Anil Gupta. The two main themes that emerged from these discussions were: How can the DESIS community address the concepts of repair and appropriation within the scope of social innovation? What is speculative design for social innovation? 
One of the interesting points in the event was a short talk by the owner of Sweet Potato Sensations, a Detroit-based bakery that familiarized the audience with a taste of local culture and food albeit virtually! 

The Stamps DESIS Lab, directed by Audrey Bennett, engages stakeholders in using design thinking and critical making to develop a transformational vision for what a society imbued with social and environmental justice would look like, and to map out potential pathways towards that transformation through design thinking and critical making at every scale.

DESIS Café aims to be an informal virtual place where DESIS Labs can meet and talk about their activities, expectations, thoughts, research, projects, etc. It’s a place to strengthen connections within the community and exchange knowledge about good practices, difficulties of projects and actions.
This event intends to join all DESIS Labs around the world to host a coffee tour every two months on the 3rd Wednesday. So start saving the date from now on!

You can watch the event on DESIS youtube channel here: