Hi all,
I feel there is a general disagreement about what is understood as social design. These are the most generalized theories I have found. What do you think?

- Every design is social, since we design for society and make an impact on it. So the word social wouldn't be needed.
- To be social it has to have a humanitarian purpose or be oriented to marginalized communities.
- It is social if it satisfies real needs instead of market needs. If it is so, what is understood as real need?
- None of the above.

Well, starting with this bases, It would be great to know your opinion about it in order to reach a strong definition of Social Design. Feel free to give your own definitions or reorient the conversation if you think I'm missing something.

Thank you all very much :)

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Hallo Artmadillo,
I think number 3,
as its not as broad as everything but not as narrow as humanitarian or marginalized, but is beyond the simple sum of economic value
this is a question that I am busy with too currently, so thanks for your discussion
below is a definition I wrote about my own work which might help in your discussion:

Social design at Butterfly Works is the design process we follow that leads to products, programs and events which improve human well-being and livelihood. We focus on and work with people in emerging economies. Central to our work is the co-creation process whereby not only the users but the various partners in the chain of activities in an intervention are brought together to develop both the concept and the contents of a program thereby ensuring it's usefulness and relevance in the longer term.


Hi from Barcelona, Armandillo! 


It´s a nice question. Lately, in Barcelona Social Design became a fashionable concept to talk about "social innovation", another complex concept to explain... The point here is that people is asuming a new role on contemporary society calling it selfs "social designers". I guess there´s an organizational issue in the very basis of it. As a reflect of the "open society" promoted since the boom of Internet, there´s emerging what sociology call "New Politics" in which the "network paradigm" is tumblring everything. In that context, I like to think that Social Design could be not just a targeting word but a real attitude to develop new politicis, yes, but also new bussiness models, new ways to learn, new relational values, new concepts of new... 

Now a days I write a blog (in spanish), called "Mindware Corp." as a contribution to promote this relacional "shift" that could take us on a more complex, advanced and connected society.





thanks for your comments, for me this is always an ongoing discussion.


I believe the word "social" is bounded to the design process rather than the outcome, where it is placed or who are the targeted users. 

I guess social as a label comes in opposition to the (for me old-fashioned) top-down design where very little input from the future users is taken in account. 

As Emer I think that co-creation and collaboration are at the centre of that process. A "way of doing" that has a great potential in order to change things for the better as involving more perspectives implies reaching a more sustainable outcome. 


Christian, g8 blog btw.


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