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  • Design for social and environmental enterprise

Brass, Clare, 2008, Conference or Workshop, Design for social and environmental enterprise at Undisciplined!: Design Research Society Conference, Sheffield Hallam University, 16–19 July 2008.

Abstract or Description:

In this paper, Brass set out a research agenda, proposing a shift in the role of design from commercial and manufacturing issues to social and environmental ones. The paper triangulates the work of current academic design thinking on the reduction of products’ environmental impact through composition (McDonough and Braungart) or life extension (Jonathan Chapman) with thinking outside the field of design offered by experts in systems (Donella Meadows, Peter Senge), economic futures (Andrew Zolli, Amartya Sen) and community engagement (Ezio Manzini), and builds a link to current and future policy goals (Sustainable Development Commission, Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, etc.).
Outlining design’s predominant use as a tool for boosting economic growth, the paper highlights both the value and relevance of design tools for addressing social and environmental issues. Service design thinking allows people’s needs to be fulfilled through new, easier and more desirable experiences, without a dependency on sales of physical objects. Citing various initiatives (RED, DOTT ’07, Zest Innovation, etc.) the paper supports the notion of transferability of design skills to public service challenges, and highlights the potential for design to play an active role in the creation and support of social and environmental enterprises.
Brass suggests that sustainability is an overwhelmingly social issue, and that design needs to play to its user-centric strengths. To facilitate this, design education would need to be broadened to stretch beyond the current focus on products and to include a more systemic approach. Three main gaps in current design education are identified: infrastructure, interconnectivity, and relationships between business, government and people.
From this perspective, a proposition has been developed offering a practical application of the thinking presented. HiRise Gardens (SEED Foundation), proposing a new design-led approach to waste management, was later developed into FoodLoop (see Brass REF Output 3).

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
School or Centre: School of Design
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2013 13:51
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2014 15:49
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1500

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