Newsletter 05



The conference preparation enters in its second phase
Ezio Manzini
(Conference Coordinator), Politecnico di Milano
Carla Cipolla
(Conference Scientific Secretary
), Politecnico di Milano)


The first main step in the Changing the Change process is (successfully) over: the 18th of February was the deadline for submitting abstracts. We have received more than 300 of them. It seems to us a good result. Of course, the quality of the presented abstracts will be evaluated one by one by the International Review Committee. But something can be said just now: a new design research community is starting to exist around the topics of design research and of its possible contribution to the transition towards a sustainable knowledge society.

In fact, even considering that some of the presented abstracts where clearly outside the Changing the Change spirit or simply un-acceptable for technical reasons, profile is emerging of a wide group of design researchers who show a concrete interest (and often solid research activities) in the proposed direction. And this, as we said, is a first good results that in the next weeks will be better evaluated.

In these days the review process has been started, preparing the abstracts for the blind review process. The abstracts to be selected are expected to present design research results, clearly referring the on-going double transition towards a sustainable knowledge society.

What we can add here is that we know very well that both the terms
"sustainable knowledge society" and "design research" can be interpreted, and are interpreted, in different ways. For this reason, we think that we have to be very open in the way we interpret them. In particular, for what regards the transition towards a sustainable knowledge society, we think that the papers can obviously refer to its environmental dimension but also to its social one. The important point for us is that they have to present real changes in the ways of thinking, being and doing. For what regards the kind of research where the presented results come from, we think that papers should be based on both formal and informal research activities (i.e. activities that can be carried out by individuals and groups for their personal interest, ouside the formal research structures). What for us is relevant here are the results: they have to be activities that really present an original, interesting and communicable improvement in design knowledge.

Finally, we think that the Changing the Change preparation process, as a whole, i.e. included the peer review evaluations and suggestions, should become an opportunity of discussion between peers and an improvement of the overall design research community activities in this field.


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The Era of Human Centered Development, from Kyoto to Torino
Yrjö Sotamaa
(international advisory committee member)

University of Art and Design Helsinki

Cumulus, the International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media representing 124 first class institutions from all continents, is making a commitment to building sustainable, human centered, creative societies. The Design Declaration will be signed on March 28th in the same venue where the Kyoto Treaty was signed. This event, we hope, will be an important step towards a new role of design in the transition towards a sustainable society. The Changing the Change design research conference, in July, in Torino, will be a second one. Here below, the declaration that will be singed in Kyoto is reported.

PROPOSING NEW VALUES AND NEW WAYS OF THINKING

All the people of the world now live in global and interdependent systems for living. We continue to enhance the quality of our lives by creating environments, products and services utilizing design. Design is a means of creating social, cultural, industrial and economic values by merging humanities, science, technology and the arts. It is a human-centered process of innovation that contributes to our development by proposing new values, new ways of thinking, of living, and adapting to change.

AN ERA OF HUMAN CENTERED DEVELOPMENT

A paradigm shift from technology driven development to human centered development is under way. The focus is shifting from materialistic and visible values to those, which are mental, intellectual and, possibly, less material. An era of "cultural productivity" has commenced, where the importance attributed to modes of life, values and symbols may be greater than that attributed to physical products. Design thinking stands steadfastly at the centre of this continuum. Simultaneously, this development highlights the importance of cultural traditions and the need to extend and revitalize them.

THE IMPERATIVE FOR DESIGNERS TO ASSUME NEW ROLES

Global development, and an awareness of the growth of related ecological and social problems are posing new demands and offering new opportunities for design, design education and design research. Design is challenged to redefine itself and designers must assume new roles and commit themselves to developing solutions leading to a sustainable future.

SEEKING COLLABORATION IN FORWARDING THE IDEALS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The members of Cumulus, representing a global community of design educators and researchers, undertake the initiative, outlined in "THE KYOTO DESIGN DECLARATION", to commit themselves to the ideals of sustainable development. Furthermore, the members of Cumulus, have agreed to seek collaboration with educational and cultural institutions, companies, governments and government agencies, design and other professional associations and NGOs to promote the ideals of, and share their knowledge about, sustainable development.

THE POWER TO MAKE FUNDAMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS TO OUR WORLD

Human-centered design thinking, when rooted in universal and sustainable principles, has the power to fundamentally improve our world. It can deliver economic, ecological, social and cultural benefits to all people, improve our quality of life, and create optimism about the future and individual and shared happiness.



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Changing the Change is an opportunity
Ken Friedman
Swinburne University Faculty of Design in Melbourne


Changing the Change is an opportunity to visualize the opportunities and responsibilities of a better world. This is not the world of the past, a world to which we cannot return. That world was never perfect, and we cannot be what we once were. Neither is it an impossible future of utopian central planning. That future is also behind us.

Changing the Change is a chance to think our way through the different futures we can hope to inhabit, examining these futures designers. Every human institution is embedded in an historically contingent ecology of societies and cultures. These influence every human  institution, artifact, and agency.

"It's impossible to change one thing," John Collier once said, "without changing everything. But you can't change everything all at once. You've got to start somewhere." Nevertheless, John didn't believe that change is hopeless or impossible. He believed that we  must learn more and do better, working with resolve and commitment to create the world we want to live in.

Genuine change involves each of us. Changing the Change is an opportunity to see how we can change ourselves to change the societies and cultures in which we live. A remarkable work of art on the theme of change has been circulating around the world. It is drawn   from the words of a political candidate, but it is not part of a political campaign. It is an unofficial campaign ad for hope, inviting citizens to be a voice and cast a vote. You can see the work for
yourself at:

http://www.dipdive.com/

This could be the campaign ad for Changing the Change. It calls neither for utopia nor for business as usual. Changing the Change is an opportunity to use design tools and design thinking to envision and shape a common future.

What I find so inspiring and realistic about Changing the Change is the understanding that we must reshape our cultures and ourselves to reshape our future. To bring change about, we must change the way we change.

Gandhi said, "As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world ... as in being able to remake ourselves."

See you in Torino!


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On social innovation, design and the Conference Changing the Change
Roberto Bartholo
(International Advisory Committee Member), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro


We can say that a social innovation is an implementation of new element arrangements. The combination modes of these constitutive elements can be varied. They include diverse associative ways and diverse operative procedures of social interest technologies (either by making current use technologies available for new purposes, or by inventing new technologies). The distribution processes are not external elements that are simply aggregated, inasmuch as they can be compatible or incompatible with the base of values that underpin the social innovation as such.

The social innovation results concern their very own characteristic: the implementation (meaning reinforcement or restoration) of relational patterns. Social innovations are always situated in a given context and subject to a process of "charisma routinization". They promote social change through the birth and death of institutional forms. Yesterday's social innovation may be tomorrow's institutional form.

The study and evaluation of social innovation processes demand the assessment and the analysis of the relational patterns' characteristics. For this purpose, a multi-criteria matrix is necessary. Its components can be defined based on the attribute binary polarities of the relation modes, such as: dialogical/instrumental, direct/mediated, near/distant, accessible/restrict. To learn with the study of social innovations in the contemporary world means more than identifying typologies. It has also to do with facilitating the access to this specific kind of information and so contributing to interconnect several (worldwide) initiatives and practices.

I see the Conference Changing the Change as an opportunity to discuss far beyond the limits of social inclusion technologies.

I address the following questions to the Conference:

The first one is: "can conceiving relational patterns be considered a design problem?"

The National Academy of Engineering in the United States of America recognizes that engineering is, since its origins, a profoundly creative process, and says: "a most elegant description is that engineering is about design under constraint" (The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, Washington: National Academy Press, 2004, pp. 7 - 25, pdf available at http://www.nap.edu).

My second question is: "what are the specific constraints of designers' activities? How different are they from the constraints of engineers'?" Angelus Silesius' verses ("Aus dem cherubinischen Wandersmann") say that the soul has two eyes: one gazes time, and the other gazes far away towards eternity.

My third question is: "does the designers' aesthetic commitment represent the possibility of perfectioning the gaze that perceives eternity?"

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