12. Januar 2016, 19:00-20:30 Uhr, Kesselhaus, MKH
Sarah Zerwas, ‘von A und Z’, Braunschweig
Transformation Design seeks new ways to change society and behaviours through new forms of innovation. It turns away from User-Centred Design that focuses on individual consumers of products or services. It is aimed at extending human-centred towards a society-centred attitude by focusing on the social dimensions and conditions of designing. Sarah Zerwas, co-editor of „Transformation Design – Perspectives on a New Design Attitude“, will talk about some of the questions and answers, theories and methods, ideas and projects discussed in the book, which are put forward to encourage international debates in favour of a responsible design attitude. (The lecture will be held in German.)
Sarah Zerwas has worked for nearly five years as a design researcher at Braunschweig University of Art. In her research, she has focused on Transformation Design and narrative structures. In 2014, she and Kristof von Anshelm founded ‘von A und Z’, an agency for inspiration management. www.vonaundz.de
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Transformation Design is not only Design
(A note on Sarah Zerwas’ lecture by Rosan Chow)
Sarah started the lecture by sharing her personal journey in becoming involved in Transformation Design. Then she told us that Transformation Design is not a new domain but rather a new attitude. It is dedicated to social rather economic matter, focuses on relationships rather than objects, aims for engagement and empowerment and not functionality, usability and beauty. Designer acts as a facilitator and not a problem-solver and design skills expand beyond ‘form and material’ to understanding of human relationship. Her works are informed by the idea of ‘micro-utopia’, ‘transformativity’ and ‘the paradox of change’.
The projects that she conducted in the region of Braunschweig aimed to increase research spirits and creativity among ordinary citizens. Her role was to set up the conditions and methods to support them so that creative experiments could take place. For example, with a young theatre group and through plays, ideas to improve a city quarter were conveyed to and discussed with citizens in Salzgitter. Or in the ‘Festival of Utopia’, local politicians, business people and young people from all walks of life participated in diverse workshops to debate, imagine and speculate on future mobility and work.
Sarah also showed other third-party projects, such as ‘Neighbourhood Labs’ and ‘Community Now’ by Gesche Joost et.al and ‘Prototyping Politics’ by Matthew Ward. These projects had in common the aim of social or political change and innovation led by design.
As in other lectures, during discussion period, the question of why Design is particularly suited for leading social innovation was raised. What exactly does Design bring to social innovation that other disciplines could not or are less able to? Furthermore, the goals and consequences of debates and workshops led by Design were also questioned, among numerous comments.
In my view, design competence is generally discussed from two different perspectives; one focuses on visual or material thinking; and the other “designerly way of knowing”. I believe the competences articulated by these two angles are useful for understanding why Design should/can be leading social innovation. On the one hand, visualization and prototyping skills are often said to mediate or facilitate understanding and discussion among people in participatory design process. On the other hand, future-oriented, integrative (synthetic), imaginative (abductive) and perhaps playful (undisciplined) are key Design characteristics necessary for creating future scenarios. Besides, realizing or materializing ideas is also a competence found in Design (and other practical disciplines) which is indispensable for social innovation.
However, I also believe design competences alone are not enough to drive social innovation. As Sarah and other speakers pointed out, knowledge and research particularly in the social domain are also needed besides the skills to work with a variety of people in co-design situations. Not only Design is (re)entering the social domain, but also the Social Sciences are (re)joining with Design.