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  • 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.

DESIS Public & Collaborative Seminar

On the 26th and 27th October 2012 DESIS, and in particular the DESIS initiative Public and Collaborative (P&C) will organize two Public and Collaborative Days at the Design Biennale in Liège “Reciprocity” These two P&C days will be dedicated to the discussion of the specific theme of Design for Public Innovation and take the opportunity to formulate some critical reflections starting from our P&C projects.

DESIS Philosophy Talk_Shanghai: "Emerging Aesthetics" Are sustainable social changes generating a new aesthetic?

Are cases of social innovation around the world witnessing the rise of a new aesthetic paradigm? How can the eastern tradition, from within their philosophical understanding of the idea of aesthetics, look at the qualities emerging from the case studies of social innovation we are seeing worldwide? This discussion will be hosted by Tongij University and held during the design week in Shanghai on the 4th of November 2012.

DESIS Philosophy Talk_Parsons The New School of Design: "Emerging Aesthetics" Are sustainable social changes generating a new aesthetic?

Citizens, associations, enterprises and local governments that conceive of and set up new solutions, as well as those that actively and collaboratively participate in them, do so by choice. Creative communities recognize, in the promising initiatives that they create and produce, some features that are better than those proposed by the mainstream unsustainable production and consumption system. Their initiatives compensate for the reduction in consumption with an increase in something else that the involved people consider more valuable. We can refer to this "something else" as qualities of the physical and social environments that ask for more sustainable behaviors in order to enjoy them. Hence we might call them: sustainable qualities. The observation of cases of social innovation around the world point towards an emergence of sustainable qualities (place, scale, collaboration, work, time, relationships, complexity), which urge us to start a more thorough philosophical refection.

Public & Collaborative: Design for radical innovation in the public realm

In the face of current economic and social challenges, the public sector in general and the public services in particular are changing and, in the future will have to change even more radically in order to cope with pressing societal demands. This transformation, which we commonly refer to as public innovation, could move in different directions.

One promising direction is based on the idea of people-as-assets: where citizens become active and collaborative and can be considered partners in the design and delivery of public services (service co-design andco-production).

DESIS Showcase: Helsinki event, and launch of online platform

Showcase is a DESIS initiative aiming to create and maintain an up-to-date overview on initiatives of design for social innovation taking place in design schools across the globe. Within the context of DESIS Showcase, design schools are invited to present their social innovation-related projects, using a common lightweight format. These projects are shown, at special events, i.e. the DESIS Showcases, which are organized back-to-back with Cumulus Conferences around the world. DESIS Showcase has been conceived and developed in partnership with Cumulus Association.


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

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