Design methods for society and the environment

In the last few years, a number of organizations have begun using design for social and environmental issues. The extent of how these design methods are created and implemented remains to be better documented and understood. In 2004, the Massive Change project began articulating new territories that designers were working on. In the next three years, Design has made it to the front covers of Businessweek and Fast Company magazines as a key factor for business innovation. Universities, such as Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto and Stanford University began offering design-focused curricula. Stanford created its interdisciplinary program, known as d.school.

The same year, the Design Museum in London granted the Designer of the Year award to Hilary Cottam, a non-designer working in social processes. INDEX: organized the first global design awards event that promoted the use of design to address complex social and environmental issues and Denmark's Danish Design Center declared 2005 as the country's Design Year.

Work Worth Doing will carry out a study over the next two years in order to better understand and articulate design methods used to address social and environmental challenges and identify the key players involved in these type of processes. The objective is to map the design activities related to sustainability; create a common vocabulary for understanding the limits of design methods as they apply to these new areas; and identify challenges and opportunities for designers working in this realm. From the design of discrete objects and the systems involving services, social processes, and strategies, this study will be based on interviews, review of case studies, surveys, and hands-on experience.

'understanding the intersection of design, society, and' blog

Design research methodology now online

Earlier this month, I presented a paper at the Changing the Change conference in Turin, Italy. The paper describes the methodology for conducting a study on design methods for sustainable innovation. This study will be useful for small design studios, like Work Worth Doing, that are in the process of applying sustainability criteria into […]

New WWD research initiative

This month we are beginning a new research initiative with the objective of better understanding design methods as they relate to social and environmental issues. Over the past couple of months we have been sharing ideas with Kathrine Overgaard Rasmussen, from this year’s Kaos Pilots program who did an internship with us. Our conversations with […]

understanding the intersection of design, society, and the environment