Part 1: Social Innovation and Design in Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation

The first part of this three-part book describes strategies for organizing society that encourage resilience, complexity, distributed agency, and collaboration. It imagines “cosmopolitan localism” as a society built around social innovation that draws sustainably on "global networks and local realities" (25). According to Manzini’s new forms of design must emerge to meet the needs of this evolving society and help bring it into being. He encourages new forms of design thinking that transcend common polarities, like the traditional distinctions between the producers and users of products. He describes new design methods as integrating grassroots and expert knowledge. This is a book of “research on design” that analyzes the capacities and potential of design to be the discipline that can best help engineer a new more resilient future (39).

Manzini, Ezio. 2015. “Part 1: Social innovation and design.” In Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation. 7-74. MIT Press.

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Design’s (Dis)orders: Mediating Systems-Level Transition Design

Traditional design suffers from a duality that leads it astray: designers’ obsession with improving the function of objects leads to constant innovation and endless material products that end up in our environment as waste. This relentless perfectionism is accompanied by design’s utopianism, which Tonkinwise calls a kind of “megalomania” (5): the belief that a perfect, universally functional society can be developed through systems thinking. These tendencies have links to the history of design: perfectionism is the care of craftsmanship filtered through industrialization, while design’s links to Western philosophical hierarchies lead to universalist, technocratic tendencies. Transition design seeks to resolve this tension, first by widening perspectives on what is considered design, and second by considering the significance of the interplay between objects and contexts. It considers designed objects as infrastructure, and it understands that design occurs in multiple scales, none of which is less important than the others. Transition design understands objects and systems as interdepended. However, unlike utopian forms of systems thinking, transition design does not seek a perfect resolution or end point to design challenges. It understands that wicked problems are infinitely complex and builds adaptability into its worldview.

Tonkinwise, Cameron. 2014. “Design (Dis)Orders: Transition Design as Postindustrial Design.”

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