by Ezio Manzini
The next step for DESIS is to create Thematic Clusters: groups of design teams, based on different DESIS Labs, working on similar topics. Their aim is to build arenas for discussing on-going projects, comparing tools and results, and where new joint initiatives can be started.
Thematic Clusters are elements of the DESIS Network that aim to create focused design research environments where specific design knowledge is produced and accumulated, where –in relation to a given design theme- a common language is built, a set of conceptual and practical tools created and scenarios and solutions developed.
Therefore, a Thematic Cluster emerges from on-going activities, thanks to the initiative of the design teams who, recognizing their common or converging interests, freely decide to align on-going activities, establish a coordinated program of events and, when possible, start-up future joint activities.
In this spirit, a first Thematic Cluster, entitled Public and Collaborative, has already been defined. Its goal is to better understand the evolution of the public sector when citizens become active and collaborative (news on this cluster, which has been initiated by Parsons and Politecnico di Milano, will be circulated soon).
Being the result of bottom-up processes of mutual recognition, it is not possible at this stage, to indicate what the future list of Thematic Clusters will be . Nevertheless, for the sake of concreteness (and to have an overview on what the different DESIS Labs are working on) examples of possible themes are: food networks and city/countryside relationships; collaborative housing and residential services; sustainable neighbourhoods and public spaces; social cohesion and urban regeneration; alternative mobility; health and care of the elderly; …
In conclusion, we can summarise in four steps what must be done to start a Thematic Cluster:
1. Recognise a theme of common interest to a group of DESIS Labs.
2. Fine-tune the theme, align the related on-going projects and define a program of coordinated initiatives.
3. Decide how to organise the cluster and set up a coordinating team.
4. Draw up a background document and common program of activities (and publish it on the DESIS Website).