Newsletter 12

Post-conference. Next steps?
Ezio Manzini
(Conference Chair), Politecnico di Milano

Jorge Frascara
International advisory committee coordinator), University of Alberta

Changing the Change ended two weeks ago. Concluding it, we felt enthusiastic: our emotional impression was the one of having participated in a very meaningful event. Now we are two weeks later. We have had the time to recover, rethink and digest the many stimuli... And we are still enthusiastic and convinced that Changing the Change has been a very meaningful event.

Given this enthusiasm a question arises immediately ( one that has been asked by may friends): what will the next steps be? Frankly speaking, we don't know yet: we need some other weeks of rethinking, recovering and discussing. Nevertheless, something, some "next steps", already appear clearly:
  1. A conference is a conference. Paraphrasing Magritte, with this statement we intend to say that we don't have to ask to a conference more than what a conference can do. And a conference is a mainly a place of exchanges: we say something to others, we listen to others' thoughts and experiences, and, if it is a good conference, we bring back home something useful in terms of new relationships and ideas. Given that, the only next steps that a conference has to generate are the ones that every participant will take on the basis of the new ideas and relationships that he/she will have brought home.
    In the Changing the Change case, will this happen? Of course we hope so. But it is not up to the organizer to take these steps. It is up to you. The blog in the conference site will remain active (at least for some months): let us know if some of these steps have been taken.
  2. A conference is also a book: a collection of papers that permits to those who had not had the opportunity to participate, to have an idea of what had been said at the conference, and get the address of who said it. And so, again, through its proceedings, a good conference may generate ideas and relationships.
    In our case, the conference proceedings have already been published and you can find them on line in the Changing the Change site. Everybody interested can read them and, if very interested, download all the papers.
  3. In principle, what has be said in the two previous points could be true for every conference, both the virtual and traditional ones. But traditional conferences have a different potential in terms of community building. In fact, they are places where you bring not only your ideas, but also your body. And this is what, in a successful conference, can make the difference. As everybody knows, physical interactions help the creation of a sense of community.
    Changing the Change was a conference specifically dedicated to designer-researchers who think that sustainability should be the meta-objective of every design research. This large group of researchers has been until now rather weak and invisible. A very positive Changing the Change next step could be the empirical observation that this group has evolved towards a community. If this will be true or not, if this next step will be taken, it is now too early to be said. In this case too, we hope to see something on the Changing the Change Blog.
  4. A conference may generate a final document: a text that captures the "conference spirit". Changing the Change did it too. It produced a document where themes that appeared to the conference participants to be relevant (in the perspective of sustainability) and demanding (in terms design knowledge) are indicated. This document, the Design Research Agenda - Draft 1, clearly could be considered as another "next step" of the conference: the possibility to use the emerging issues that the conference has produced as "attractors", capable of orienting a multiplicity of on-going and brand new design research programs.
    Maybe this document could be seen as the most evident next step of Changing the Change. But its meaning has to be attentively considered and its possible practical implications discussed.

    The Design Research Agenda has been presented in its first version, the Draft 1, as an open and collaborative research program. An open program, because it can be continuously integrated with other ideas and themes. And a collaborative

    As a matter of fact, this same document (the Design Research Agenda - Draft 1) has been generated in a p2p spirit: a series of formalized and informal discussions that, during the three days of the conference, progressively defined the proposed "emerging issues". In conclusion, we could say that the first next step has been taken during the same conference , and it has produced this draft. Now, the next step is to see if this idea could work. Please, read the Design Research Agenda for Sustainability text and let us know what you think.

    Thank you! 

You can leave a reply to the Ezio Manzini and Jorge Frascara
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and [HERE]

A sustainable welcome
Claudio Germak
(Organizational Coordinator), Politecnico di Torino

Changing the Change Conference has been organized according to the principles of sustainability, both in terms of environmentally friendly-efficiency, for what we could do, and on the base of the spirit of sharing and quality welcoming activities.
The Conference offered a highly scientific and academic agenda together with a research and a project regarding virtual spaces, physical spaces and services, thought to be coherent and sharable by Changing the Change community.
Changing the Change Conference may provide Turin with a sign of the future goals in terms of sustainability, by presenting visions, proposals and tools, which, if they are included in the Conference manifesto, would be extremely useful for our city and its local government to give new directions for the city's future.
The Conference has been part of the Torino 2008 World Capital Design agenda, which has worked in this sense too: this year is a moment to reflect upon "flexibility", the way through which design connects knowledge and values, reads the change and, sometimes, pinpoints new directions.


The preparatory step of the Conference has been designed to have a reduced impact on the environment, to eliminate the greenhouse gases emission resulting from energy consumption, use of materials, transports and staff's activities.
The AzzeroCO2 "curing" action regards the Po river park. This will allow the reintroduction of local flora and fauna: 35 tons of CO2 will be eliminated thanks to this action, the same amount that would have been consumed for the preparatory phase of the conference.

The Conference sites

The Institute of Biotechnology, where we have been, has been carefully designed. We have chosen this location because a high-quality Conference requires highly expressive and functional rooms.
The 11th July dinner has been held at Castello del Valentino. This Savoy residence is especially meaningful for us: it is the headquarter of the Faculty of Architecture of Politecnico di Torino. It has been a friendly dinner party with typical local food which is a mark of our territory: the Paniere della Provincia di Torino-Basket of Typical Products of Turin Provincial Government, a very successful initiative that opted for the sustainable short food production chain: from producer to consumer.

Special opportunities

More than 100 participants used the 20 bicycles we prepared, completely free of charge, to get around the city in a more human way.
GTT Gruppo Trasporti Torinesi also offered the public transportation's use free of charge. A lot of exhibitions, Olivetti, una bella SocietÓ, Flexibility and Piemonte Torino Design have been kept open in the evening by the TO2008WDC circuit for Changing the Change Community, during the 3 days of the Conference.


I finally would like to thank the sponsors (The Regional Council of Piedmont, Torino World Design Capital 2008, The Chamber of Commerce of Turin, GTT-Gruppo Trasporti Torinese, Fantoni Group, DEGA) and the staff of Politecnico di Torino, who contributed as volunteers to make this meeting of ours possible in terms of organization and reception.

You can leave a reply to Claudio Germak
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Who are we?
Carla Cipolla
(Conference Scientific Secretary), Politecnico di Milano

Changing the Change conference has made an invitation to build up a panorama of design research results today. Now, after the conference, it is possible to affirm - looking at the abstracts and papers received - that this invitation has been largely answered. First, considering the geographically representative number of countries that have an approved abstract - exactly 27 - from South and North America, through Europe, Africa and Asia.

The abstracts approved are 163: 101 from United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark; 4 from Israel and Turkey; 5 from Kenya, Botswana and South Africa; 13 from China, India, Japan and South Korea; 18 from Brazil and Colombia; 13 from Canada and United States; and 9 from Australia.

Clearly Europe, particularly Italy, has sent the larger number of abstracts. This is explained by the fact that the conference took place in Turin. But if we exclude Italy, we arrive at a very balanced distribution between Europe and the other countries: 50 abstracts from United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, France, Portugal, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland; and 62 from all other countries. In synthesis, 1/3 for Italy, 1/3 for Europe and 1/3 for the rest of the world in 163 abstracts approved.

Interesting also that a country like Brazil, that has only one PhD School in Design, has 17 abstracts approved, the total representation from Latin America (Colombia had sent only one abstract). After the United Kingdom, with 26 abstracts approved, Brazil was the country (always excluding Italy) with the largest participation in Changing the Change.

Other numbers: 348 documents were uploaded as papers/visualizations in the conference web platform, from those 263 where sent to 40 reviewers, at the end totalizing 163 abstracts approved and 138 final papers.

But the interest in the conference themes is not restricted to these numbers: Changing the Change newsletter is sent today to more than 1300 subscribers.

Regarding contents, papers were divided by the scientific committee in 6 groups, around the 3 larger areas: visions, proposals and tools. Visions: ways of living and producing. Proposals: daily life solutions and enabling systems. Tools: design theories and methods. This can be seen in the proceedings, already on-line ( The conference organizers have always considered Changing the Change conference not as a "final result" of a process but as a starting point. When reading these papers, a still unexplored richness of possible clusters comes out, sub themes, and more than that, possible collaborations; and here we hope that the "proceedings" could be considered also as work material, enabling potential post-conference activities and contacts.

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Carla Cipolla
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