DESIS in the Mirror is online
Call for participation: join the NETWORK FOR VISION -  N4V research project!

  • by Anna Meroni
    Dear all, it’s a great pleasure to announce that DESIS has now become a cultural association, within the meaning of Art. 36 Italian Civil Code. The Art.1 of our new Statute affirms that our purpose “is to promote design for social innovation in higher education institutions with design discipline so as to generate useful design knowledge and to create meaningful social changes in collaboration with other stakeholders. The Association pursues its purpose by supporting the scientific research in the field of the design fostering and maintaining the exchange of scientific information and views among the members and with other institutions, exchange of scientists, promotion of young scientists (doctoral students) and use of existing research infrastructures.

  • by Ezio Manzini
    The notion of design for social innovation is frequently considered similar, if not coincident, with the one of social design. In my view, to do that is an error: the two expressions refer to different activities and have very different implications. The problem begins with the double meaning commonly attributed to the adjective “social”. One of them, that is also the one used in the expression design for social innovation, indicates that we refer to something concerning social forms. That is, concerning the way in which a society is built. The other one, instead, indicates the existence of particularly problematic situations (such as extreme poverty, illness or exclusion, and circumstances after catastrophic events) to which both the market and the state fail in finding solutions. In other words, when used in this way, “social” becomes a synonym for “very problematic condition”, which poses (or should pose) the need for urgent intervention, outside normal market or public service modalities. It is with this meaning that this adjective made its entrance into the design debate several decades ago, generating the expression: social design.

Public & Collaborative

Following last year’s Public & Collaborative Days at the Design Biennale in Liège, the Public & Collaborative cluster is continuing its efforts to share the cluster's findings with design practitioners, educators and policymakers. Public & Collaborative: Exploring the Intersection of Design, Social Innovation and Public Policy, a booklet to be published in the coming weeks by the cluster, shares findings, research, analysis and case studies from the work of cluster-members across the globe.

Design for Memory

No, we have not forgotten.
Right after the Tsunami and nuclear disaster, Japan called a lot of attention. But as time passed by the world seems to forget about the events and their planetary implications .
The following article aims at, not only expressing them our constant support, but also at giving visibility to their thoughts and to some positive initiatives going on.

DESIS Philosophy talk # 3 “Disruptive qualities” - A joint initiative of POLIMI DESIS Lab and Social Spaces CUO DESIS Lab.

The DESIS Philosophy Talk is a new initiative proposed by DESIS in order to enhance the dialogue between
practice & theory, between design & philosophy. The idea is to match practical issues and topics emerging from
design practice in the field of social innovation around the world with insights from the philosophical tradition.
Several notions, such as beauty, public vs. private, community, etc., which normally belong to the field of social
sciences appear to emerge from a kind of “phenomenological” study of different cases of design for social
innovation. The DESIS Philosophy Talks want to explore them from a philosophical, theoretical perspective
and see how the result of these discussions can add meaningful value to the design practice and possibly also

Disruptive qualities: "Emerging ideas of times, places, work and relationship. A design challenge.". 5 - 8 June, Cumulus conference, Kalmar, Sweden

A two days session where we will be discussing the “qualities” of the physical and social environments present in projects of social innovation that one can experience as radically different from those spread by mainstream models over the course of the last the century. The two days session on Disruptive qualities aims to define these qualities and to fuel a broader discussion about them as they occur in contemporary society by moving from empirical observations of promising initiatives in the field of social innovation, in order to improve their characterization/definition. By means of a DESIS Philosophy talk and a hands-on workshop, we will be researching on concrete cases of social innovation with the lenses of the disruptive qualities, experimenting how the philosophical reflection can inspire and reinforce the practice of design for social innovation.


NESTA_Call for proposals

In partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and the TEPSIE project, with support from the Social Innovation Exchange, The Rockefeller Foundation and the University of Oxford, NESTA are looking for research that will push knowledge and practice of social innovation, and set a collective research agenda for the next ten years. This is an open call for proposals that aim to challenge conventional wisdom and identify and address knowledge gaps to deepen our knowledge of social innovation.


The full series of open lectures are available at DESIS Public & Collaborative initiative website ( 

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