Design Unleashed

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment
design unleashed

|Photo by Sebastian-Dario||

Paola Antonelli has appeared in various posts on this blog over the past couple of years as one of our favorite purveyors of design thinking and its application to social change.  Now Antonelli is really stepping out.  In an article for SEED Magazine, the senior curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art holds out a whole new and exciting realm of application for design – policymaking, governance, and social agendas.

Antonelli goes on to reference a meeting organized by the World Economic Forum in Dubai in November 2009, attended by 70 groups of experts from around the world who were asked for their ideas for improving global institutions.  “The so-called Global Agenda Council on Design,” she writes, “created a set of design principles suitable also for policymakers, based on the idea that ‘design is an agent of change that enables us to understand complex changes and problems, and to turn them into something useful. Tackling today’s global challenges will require radical thinking, creative solutions, and collaborative action.'”

She goes on to enumerate those design principles:

  • transparent (complex problems require simple, clear, and honest solutions)
  • inspiring (successful solutions will move people by satisfying their needs, giving meaning to their lives, and raising their hopes and expectations)
  • transformational (exceptional problems demand exceptional solutions that may be radical and even disruptive)
  • participatory (effective solutions will be collaborative, inclusive, and developed with the people who will use them)
  • contextual (no solution should be developed or delivered in isolation but should instead recognize the social, physical, and information systems it is part of)
  • sustainable (every solution needs to be robust, responsible, and designed with regard to its long-term impact on the environment and society).

I like thinking about how these principles enhance the work of “social architecture,” of creating experiences for people to come together and have conversations and interactions that matter.  What would your next staff meeting, strategic planning session,  or community conversation look like if these principles guided its design?  And what would leadership and/or governance in your organization or community look like with these in place?  What might happen as a result?

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  • Gibran says:

    This is a very helpful list of principles Curtis – I also hear a challenge and a call, how do we, from where we sit at IISC, become ever better at designing spaces and processes that uphold this set of principles? How do we hold ourselves and our partners to the task?

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