Online Conference, 25-26 March 2021 | SDN Symposium
SDN Symposium
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14:00 - 15:30


Case Studies, (Auto)Ethnograpy, Situation Analysis, Literature Review

All of the papers in this session look at the relationship between design and the common good, but each paper takes a different approach. Some originate from the social sciences and use (auto) ethnography, situation analysis and case studies; others draw on organisational theory and philosophy and use institutional and historical/ discursive analysis. Even though our papers introduce various types of data collection, data analysis and argumentation, they have similar goals. Ultimately, our aim is to concretise what understanding design as common good means and what implications this has for design practice and research.
Accordingly, the focus of this panel is individual research methods. For the first part of the 90 minutes, we shall present the five papers of our group back-to-back, focusing on each particular approach to research. After that, we envision a round-table discussion where we discuss differences and synergies between the individual papers and explore promising future avenues of pursuing the topic of design and the common good.

Panel speakers

Presented papers

  • Are Design Discourses Evolving to Contribute to the Common Good, Particularly in Germany?

    by Michael Janzer

    This project investigates how socio-political issues have been and are being negotiated within the discipline of design in professional discourses. It discusses the question how these discourses have progressed in the Federal Republic of Germany. Many of the problems currently identified in design publications concerning social, economic and ecological challenges seem strongly reminiscent of the late 1960s. It can be observed that two periods, between the late 1960s to 1970s and the early 2000s to 2019, indicate a certain boom in the field of design – an orientation towards the common good. These periods are being compared by situation analysis from the social sciences. The initial corpus consists of articles from design journals. This project opens new perspectives e.g., which approaches are updated or no longer maintained. It will contribute to a comprehension of the development of moral concepts within the discipline. Currently, the project is in its initial phase.

  • The Logics of Social Design

    by Lucy Kimbell

    This paper examines how different institutional social design forms relate to achieving the common good. This paper attempts this using a form of analysis called institutional logics which sees organisational action as existing in a social and institutional context, which shapes organisational and individual behaviours. The paper distinguishes three social design logics embedded within contemporary design in western European and North American contexts: innovation-austerity, deliberation-pluralism and anticipation-utopia, each with a distinct mission, basis of legitimacy, professional identity, emblematic objects and practices, forms of organisation, socialisation mechanisms and strategies. It takes the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a definition of what the common good might look like, and outlines how the three logics play out in relation to them. By so doing, the paper shows there are varied instantiations of professional design acting towards the common good with distinct modes of operation, and sets out directions for future research.

  • Core Values Matter: The Role of the People in Shaping Corporate Responsibility

    by Lilian Crum

    This research investigates the role of the public in influencing a brand’s social responsibility, specifically in times of crisis when social media use has increased. Using case studies, it examines the public-facing messaging and action of high-profile companies, specifically during the spring and summer of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement were creating dramatic social, economic, and behavioural transformations to our world. Underpinned by social innovation design, brand design and marketing, this paper discusses the relationship between brand messaging and a company’s core values, as well as the ways in which people hold a brand’s role in contributing to the public good accountable. Looking ahead, it considers the ongoing impact the voice of the people will have in holding brands accountable for systemic change.

  • Designing New Solutions During Covid-19 through Creativity

    by Gianluca Carella, Mattia Italia, Francesco Zurlo, Silvia Gasparotto, Alejandro Salas Prada, Silvia Ambrosio

    The COVID-19 represented what Murray (2009) defines as intractable social problems: problems where reactions of government structures and markets often seem to be inadequate. Within this shattering scenario, people rediscovered the power of collaboration as triggers for creating new artefacts and solutions (Manzini, 2015). The research tried to focus on the role of design as a driver to create new initiatives and activities in response to the crisis. 130 case studies circa were collected, obtaining later a final set of 22 most exemplary initiatives, demonstrating how creative actions contributed to social innovation. The paper aims to discuss how individuals were the activators and protagonists of bottom-up processes, which have produced solutions that can be identified as common goods, where society benefits as a whole (Hussain, 2018). Collaboration allowed both people and enterprises to develop ecosystems where creatives find space for action and which have a sense of existing only if shared with other people.

  • The Genealogies of Social Design and Claims to the Common Good

    by Patrycja Kaszynska

    This paper investigates the claim that social design can be defined in terms of its orientation towards the common good. It does this by looking at three canonical texts in social design as set against the socio-cultural contexts in which they were produced: Morris's News from Nowhere, Papanek's Design for the Real World and Manzini's Design, When Everybody Designs. Applying genealogical and archaeological analyses, the paper finds that the conceptions of the common good presupposed in these three articulations are sufficiently different to preclude definitional consensus with respect to social design. Yet, the paper argues, there is enough overlap for social design to be considered a "family resemblance" concept. This need not be a disappointing outcome. Using social design as a family resemblance concept enables us to differentiate some ways of practicing and talking about design from others, even though we are not able to offer a "standard" definition in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions. As a bonus, the notion of social design approached in the terms proposed provides a good heuristic for thinking about the common good: not just how the good is distributed but, crucially, how the commonality is constructed and constituted.