Online Conference, 25-26 March 2021 | SDN Symposium
SDN Symposium
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16:00 - 17:30


Speculative Design, New Design-Roles, Public Thinking, Interactive Social Research, Design Methodology, Design Politics

Embracing Common Good in Design poses a series of fundamental questions – What are the relationships between Common Good and Design? What are the roles of designers and others? What are the newly proposed value positions of Design in engaging Common Good?

The panelists will explore these questions through the following lenses:

  • Design as a Politics: Critical inquiry into the concept of the problem-solving in Design (Kosok)
  • Design as Collaborative Action Research: the methodological framework on eliciting social actions on the common good (Hong)
  • Design as Interactive social research in an Evolutionary Process between Speculation and Reality (Jessen & Meienberg)
  • Design as negotiation of roles: Propositions on overcoming traditional designer-client-relationships and on reasoning design engagement (Kuster)

This 90-minute session consists of two parts. During the first part of the session, each panelist will present their paper. The second part is interactive with an open discussion with attendees. In preparing this session, the panelists have utilized a visualization tool to analyze each other's arguments. This visual summary will provide attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the covered topics along with discussion points. Thus, this session aims to explore in-depth discussion on the posed questions collaboratively.

Panel speakers

Presented papers

  • The Problem With Problem Solving. Design, Ecology and the Common Good

    by Felix Kosok

    In this paper, reflecting on my creative paralysis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, I want to rethink the capability of design to solve problems, which is usually associated with its ability to contribute to the common good. Critically questioning modern conceptualizations of design as fundamental human activity that intertwines us with our environment I will highlight that it’s not so much the problems solved that make design meaningful, but the differences it creates. Differences, that some would consider small and superficial. Even in the face of impending climate catastrophe, an understanding of the common good by design must be defended as debatable. More radical and far reaching contemporary conceptualisations of design–such as ontological design–will be the counter position from which this paper develops a different understanding of designs capabilities. Facing this crisis difference beyond novelty is not much, but it might be all that design has to offer.

  • Design For Public Thinking

    by Youngbok Hong

    Is wearing a mask a common good? The simple act of wearing a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the pluralistic nature of the society we live in on a global scale. This unprecedented situation forces us to confront an array of questions: what we regard as a common good, when and how we act upon it. Although these questions have been extensively discussed from various theoretical points of view in the realms of philosophy, political science, and economics, we still remain divided upon agreement and acting on common good. In an effort to contribute to advancing the discourse and practice of common good, this paper discusses why and how Design can be an alternative methodology for Public Thinking by sharing the methodological framework. The introduced framework has been developed for curriculum development, applied to numerous problems and proven its validity in collaborative problem-solving contexts.

  • Designing Beyond the Common Good – an Evolutionary Process between Speculation and Reality

    by Dustin Jessen, Simon Meienberg

    To what extent can designers direct their professional practices towards serving the common good? Design constitutes itself anew with every project. Each project is both conditioned and made possible through a unique constellation of actors, timeframes, objectives, skills, etc. which arise from both social values and political agendas. We discuss the different approaches of two selected design projects by the authors, and the respective strategies and methods. While the designers’ ambition in both projects was certainly to change an existing situation into a preferred one – the first by the means of interactive user engagement, the second through the idea of semi-finished product semantics – we emphasize on the challenges and ambiguities arising from the evolutionary process of design, aiming at the common good. Eventually we conclude that design processes can serve as a tool to debate rather than create the common good.

  • Challenging Design for (the) Good – New Design-Roles: Making Design Vulnerable

    by Lucas Kuster

    This paper starts with a meta-reflection on design and common good. The relationships between designers and clients are discussed wondering who commissions design for societal challenges. Based on the assumption that society as a whole cannot be interpreted as a client, only by ignoring individual interests, the paper further examines approaches of self-contracting selections of problems which result in sketchy self-legitimized design commissions. This is followed by design ‘for’ and design ‘as’ common good as two rough approaches. A description of a practical project serves as reflection while the previous concepts are tried to be applied on it. Final thoughts on characteristics of the described design-roles that pop up when breaking the traditional designer-client relationship are presented. This is followed by a discussion if this leads design to a new vulnerability in context of criticizability, disciplinary doubts and more.