DESIS Philosophy Talk #7.8 Designing for care

1. The concept of “care”, in all its implications, is certainly not new. However, in recent years it has gradually emerged in the social conversation with a new connotation: that of being one of the pillars needed to bridge towards an ecological transition. Whatever the starting conditions, looking to the future, one cannot imagine a potential future more sustainable and just society which is not based on ideas and practices of care: care for people, care for the planet and, ultimately, care for the web of life.
The importance of this concept emerges even more clearly if, as in this case, we focus on its relationship with service design. As a matter of fact, by their nature, services are interactions amongst people. And their designs, by orienting the quality of these interactions, can make them formalized and, for that reason, careless, non-relational procedures. Or, conversely, they can create opportunities for new diverse forms of caring relationships, accordingly from the situated contexts and wordings from which they emerge.

2. To operate as an agent of ecological (and therefore social) regeneration, service design must therefore stimulate and support relationships of care between people and between people and the planet. Our working hypothesis is that social innovation – due to its familiarity with practices of care – can help service design to further re-frame itself in more caring, relational, regenerative ways.
As a matter of fact, we have observed that the birth and evolutionary trajectory of every social innovation – developed in different ways in different places around the world – has at its center forms of interaction between people, and between people and their environment, which are in fact services. And that these services, in order to be conceived and implemented, require design skills that can be traced back to the design of services. Or, more precisely, to a new dimension of it: the design of collaborative services. In other words: a service design that is also a design for care because, by stimulating and supporting collaboration and proximity between the players, it generates conditions in which relationships of care can emerge and flourish.
It can therefore be said that, in recent years, there have been social innovations that have generated, at the same time, a new family of services and a new way of designing them: services that function as platforms for new communities characterized by relationships of care. And a design capable of imagining and developing them.

3. “Designing for care” is a DESIS Philosophy Talk that intends to contribute to reinforcing and enriching the culture of design by discussing how and to what extent the intertwining of social innovation and service design can generate relationships of care. And vice versa, how and how much a better understanding of feminist, ecological, regenerative, and pluriversal concepts of care can enrich the design of services, giving it a more precise role in transitioning towards a more sustainable and just society.
The meeting is structured in an initial conversation on this theme, followed by interventions by designers and researchers from different operational and cultural contexts.

Theme presentation: Virginia Tassinari and Ezio Manzini
Theme discussion: Arturo Escobar
Open conversation