Something that we know very well about the present is that the world is changing, rapidly and profoundly. The only certain thing that we know about the future is that the current change must change direction, it must find the way to sustainability.
Nobody is yet in a position to say how this can happen. However, many think that the greatest challenge we must face is this one: how to be an active, constructive part of this twofold transformation; and how to be able to interpret how and to what extent we are changing, recognising the opportunities that are opening up, and the forces that generate this change. We should learn to use these same forces to "change the change" and promote a social learning process that can lead us towards a society based on networking, knowledge and sustainability.
Contemporary design (seen as the community of all who operate in the design field, in different ways) is deep in this turbulent process, both transforming it and being transformed by it. Given its nature it cannot but be like this. However, in this turbulence, we do not have, and cannot have, a clear vision of what is happening. What is design doing today? What could it be like and how could it operate in this context of ongoing transformation? What is it doing, or what could it be doing, to play a more incisive critical and constructive role in the great twofold transformation underway?
These are not new questions, but they must constantly be asked. Not only because the world is rapidly changing, but also because despite the good intentions of many, design still continues to be far more "part of the problem" than "part of the solution"; serving more to accelerate unsustainable processes rather than promoting new ways of being and doing to help individuals and communities live better, reduce their ecological footprint and regenerate the social fabric.
The conference Changing the Change starts with these considerations and seeks to be an occasion for presenting visions, proposals and tools that emerge from precise and documentable design research.
If indeed design wants to be "part of the solution" it must, perhaps first and foremost, develop a new research culture and new research practices: open research, sensitive to present contexts, that leads to a better understanding of the great changes underway; that offers designers tools to facilitate movement within them; and that enable designers to be promoters of a radical way of changing the direction of these great changes.
In this spirit the conference seeks to be a confrontation and discussion ground for designers and researchers operating in different cultural, economic and political contexts (in this perspective, a substantial participation from the East and South of the World will be actively encouraged).
A recognition of the transformations undergone and underway in contemporary reality will be a trait common to all speakers, together with the intention of stepping forward as agents for a possible and positive re-orientation. From here onwards all options will be possible and all roads will be open. The value of the conference will lie precisely on this multiplicity and openness of the directions put forward.