Name: Parsons DESIS Lab
City: New York City
Director: Eduardo Staszowski, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Address: 6 East 16th Street, Room 1207, New York City
Mailing Address: School of Design Strategies, Parsons The New School for Design, 2 West 13th Street, Room 913, New York, NY 10011
Telephone number: +1 212-229-5700 Ext. 2977, website: http://www.newschool.edu/desis
Hosting institution:The New School
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
Background and objectives
Parsons DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab is a research laboratory created in 2009 at The New School in New York City. DESIS Lab members explore the relationship between design and social change. Our goal is to advance the practice and discourse of design-led social innovation to foster more equitable and sustainable cities and practices. In a complex world facing numerous systemic challenges, DESIS Lab members rethink assumptions about cultural and economic environments, bringing nuanced approaches drawn from integrated design practices to communities of all kinds. In the DESIS Lab, service design is considered an advanced approach, one integrating many design disciplines.
Three foundations guide our research in design strategies. First, bridging structural holes, given that social settings often suffer from severe information asymmetries. We seek to bridge information gaps and find ways of sharing needed information more effectively. Second, valuing tacit knowledge. People in a social system rely on both explicit forms of knowledge and “tacit knowledge”—information individuals and communities develop and share through habits and customs. The use of participatory design methods reveals and codifies this subjective knowledge. Third, nurturing heterarchies. Whereas researchers have focused on social hierarchies and structural asymmetries, little attention has been paid to heterarchies—the lateral forms of collaboration through which social life is constructed. We promote such interdependent networks as it generates more opportunities for heterogeneous forms of collaboration.
Primary research areas and activities
Parsons DESIS Lab is part of the New School Social Innovation Initiative, a program incubator for diverse activities that advance, broaden, and deepen social innovation–related education at the university. The lab works at the intersection of strategic and service design, management, and social theory, applying interdisciplinary expertise in problem setting and problem solving to sustainable practices and social innovation. We are a multidisciplinary group of professors, researchers, and students who focus on design, teaching, and research activities intended to enhance and accelerate processes of social innovation and sustainable practices. DESIS Lab develops externally funded research projects and promotes workshops, studios, toolkits, exhibitions, and publications that facilitates social change through design-driven initiatives.
List of projects and research
Amplifying Creative Communities
Initially started in New York City, Amplifying Creative Communities provides a platform to expand community initiatives that promote more positive ways of living and working. By disseminating collaborative initiatives that result in new and sustainable lifestyles, this program aims to inspires individuals and communities by linking individual choices and collective actions to establish more desirable, sustainable urban centers.
Public & Collaborative NYC
This project investigates the role design can play in building bridges between government and people, allowing for socially innovative methods of providing services for the public good. Within the Public & Collaborative framework Parsons DESIS Lab has been working on projects with different New York City agencies, creating programs to inspire civil servants, educate design students, and inform the public and the design community about government processes and practices.
- Eduardo Staszowski, PhD, Director, Parsons DESIS Lab
Assistant Professor of Design Strategies
Parsons The New School for Design
- Lara Penin, PhD, Co-founder, Parsons DESIS Lab
Assistant Professor of Transdisciplinary Design
Parsons The New School for Design
- Nidhi Srinivas, PhD, Co-founder, Parsons DESIS Lab
Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management
The New School for Public Engagement
Bibliography / Publications
Amplifying Creative Communities in New York City
Critiquing Social Innovation: What is it? Does it matter? Cases from India and China
Designing Services for Housing
Government Innovation Labs
DESIS Thematic Cluster: Public and Collaborative