27. Oktober 2015, 19:00-20:30 Uhr, Kesselhaus, MKH
Anna Seravalli, Malmö University, Sweden
In design for social innovation, there are two central concerns. One is related to how to support collaborative processes: bringing together different stakeholders (from citizens, to civil servants; from entrepreneurs to representatives of the third sector). The other is the question of how to develop long-term collaborations among actors with diverse interests. Starting with some on-going projects at Malmö Living Labs, the lecture proposes a particular framing, i.e. making commons, to articulate what designing in and for such collaborations might entail. Specifically such a frame highlights issues of ownership, value production and power relations in such collaborations.
Anna Seravalli is a senior lecturer at Malmö University. She has a background as industrial designer and a PhD in design for social innovation. She is exploring how to design in and for collaborative processes by engaging in long-term collective efforts with a number of different actors in Malmö, Sweden.
Making Commons also in Design Education?
(A note on Anna Seravalli’s lecture by Rosan Chow)
Anna began her lecture by showing a world map of oceanic gyres and a protest against youth unemployment in Spain. Serious environmental and social problems are the contexts and origins of the idea of Design for Social Innovation (DfSI).
Social innovation is a board concept and has diverse practices ranging from product development outside the established innovation system such as ‘Fairphone’, to alternative public service such as ‘Link-Up’ (peer-to-peer support for family in crisis). Her works are particularly aimed at supporting grassroots social innovation in collaboration with different actors including the public, private, and third sector.
However collaboration might not be as innocent as it sounds. The prime examples of the Sharing Economy, Airbnb and Uber, invites questioning the end goal of collaboration: is it empowering or harvesting? Anna suggests ‘commons’ as a guiding concept to explore questions of who shares, what gets generated, how it is shared and who decides who gets what in collaboration. ‘Commons’ also entails extending citizen participation beyond design time to use time.
Anna pointed out that Design is about shaping futures and yet shaping futures has diverse meanings. Designed futures could be ‘rigorous beautification’ (Karim Rashid), critical design to provoke discussions (Dunne & Raby), or design for the other 90%. She is interested in ‘making’ futures: from imagining to prototyping to implementing social change. She discussed the challenges of legal framework, long-term commitment and issues of ownership when making futures in the project ‘HWA’ in which immigrant women organized to help unaccompanied refugee children and in the maker-space ‘Fabriken’ which she has been running.
In my view, Anna’s lecture was not only a clear, informative and inspiring discussion on Design for Social Innovation and the associated practical, intellectual, political and ethical issues; but also an invitation to reflect on the purpose, identity, and education of designers.
Design, a child of industrialization, has grown to become an obedient servant of a market economy whose predatory and exploitative dimensions have become increasingly apparent and worrying in both social and environmental terms. If resignation is not a choice, then designers must reflect on their own roles. And yet, soul-searching is hardly enough and perhaps a social innovation in design education is needed. The theme of design education was discussed after the lecture: What requires change in design education? What is a good balance between social and material design in education? What are the design competences particularly suited for social projects? I believe and hope that we will come back to these critical questions in the next three lectures.