DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Glyn-Davies, Adela; Russell, Paul
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Derby, United Kingdom
Section: Meeting 21st Century Challenges in Further and Higher Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.21
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


As designers, consultancies [1] and publicly funded design organisations [2] increasingly acknowledge the potential for the use of Design to positively contribute toward social impact, Social Design is increasingly becoming an essential part of Product Design curriculums around the world to prepare students for evolving practice. Social Design, understood as both design for and with society [2], requires designers to undertake thorough qualitative research which involves engagement, participation, and collaboration [3]. Communities are central to all stages of the design process (enquiry, insight gathering, ideation, and testing). This ensures that the designers’ practice is informed with contextual knowledge through holistic approaches to data gathering in relationship-building and empathy studies, which are key features of Social Design research [4]. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities in particular, the delivery of the ‘Social Design’ module at The University of Derby has been adapted to meet the limitations caused by lockdowns and social distancing. In addition to being unable to access communities in-person, restrictions on the amount of time that students can spend on campus and with lecturers also contributed to complexity of the delivery. The teaching of Social Design thus, has been adapted for delivery via blended learning through a physical/digital environment, where students are required to work mainly remotely, to make connections and gather data and insights from communities. This paper presents the adapted research methods, methodologies and design processes, adjusted for use by the lecturers and also those devised by the students themselves when undertaking the design of inclusive and accessible product-service solutions, for the improvement of infrastructure at a local park. The project challenges students to overcome barriers to engagement and participation from economically disadvantaged communities in the city, which includes those with migrant backgrounds, adding to the complexity of devising solutions. Proposed solutions involved adapting not only primary design research methods such as empathy studies and observations, but also the methods by which data was collected, the critical analysis of findings, prototyping, and testing. Objectives set in this project, focus on social need and user experience, accessibility and inclusivity in design, as well as professional practice and research method development in a hybrid physical-digital context. [1] IDEO. Design for Social Impact: How to Guide, 2014. [2] Design Council. Design for Public Good, 2013. [3] Sachs A.; Banz C. & Krohn M. Social Design: Participation and Empowerment, 2018. Lars Müller Publishers/Museum für Gestaltung Zürich [4] Manzini E. Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation, 2015. MIT Press. [5] Sanoff H. Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning, 1999. John Willey & Sons [6] Gauntlett D. Making is Connecting, rev. ed., 2018. Polity Press

Keywords: Social Design, Design for Social Innovation, Participatory Design, Blended Learning


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