Pause, reflect, activate, impact: Co-designing consensus and dissensus for positive societal impacts

Societies are in transition, trying to balance the forces of globalisation with creating a meaningful (local) life. Our natural world is simultaneously in transition, forced to change by unprecedented levels of human activity that are resulting in the emergence of a new geological epoch, the Anthopocene. Under these circumstances there is a collective, intuitive understanding that we need to design differently to deal with today’s complex,’ wicked’, issues. Our instinct is to reach out to each other, to expand our social discourse using the latest technological means in an ever expanding ‘space of flows’ (after Castells). Digital Fab Labs, social networked Living Labs, Open Knowledge hubs and festivals provide poly-disciplinary environments where new hybrid ways of knowing and designing can emerge. However, we need to pause, to take a reality check – how are we engaging actors and stakeholders in defining their ‘activist’ issues and contexts, their problem spaces and the correct design brief? How do we set and agree collective goals that will genuinely deliver positive societal (and wider) impacts? How do we balance design by consensus and design by dissensus? These critical questions were interrogated in the keynote together with examples from co-design projects and communities in the UK and Finland, and by an emerging framework I am co-developing called ‘Design Capitalia’.

Alastair Fuad-Luke is Professor of Emerging Design Practices at Aalto University in Helsinki exploring new ways of designing with the city municipality of Lahti, Finland. He has a long history of working in different positions within sustainable design, co-design and design activism. His work explores the potential of these diverse design approaches to encourage a new mutuality between the citizen designer (everyone) and the design professional, revitalising what it means to design. His books include Design Activism (Earthscan, 2009) and The Eco-design Handbook (Thames & Hudson, 2002, 2005, 2009). During his academic career he has helped develop many new Bachelors and Masters courses, the most recent being the MA Entrepreneurship for Creative Practice at Plymouth College of Art, UK. He contributes to several inter-disciplinary design Masters programmes at Aalto University including Creative Sustainability, IDBM and Aalto’s 365wellbeing project for the World Design Capital 2012, while supporting grassroots design initiatives in the Helsinki region.

www.fuad-luke.com   /    http://window874.com   /   www.aalto.fi/en

For further detail on Alastair Fuad-Luke’s keynote, check his presentation slides below, listen or download the following audio recording:

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