Manzini對「社會設計」的觀察與呼籲

Ezio Manzini是DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustanability)Network的發起人與頭頭(president)。DESIS經常被視為social design的代表性國際網絡,但Manzini本人顯然認為是該好好澄清差別的時候,這篇2014年8月發表的文章針對Design for Social Innovation與Social Design做了區辨,在我看來更重要的作用是自我釐清DESIS Network的目標與價值。

我可以接受他指陳的三點差異(除了他對class的暗示有些不安,但身為社會學者,我可以理解他的感受),其實他的這些看法呼應了我在台科大提出關於social design發展的兩個憂心。不過,我最欣賞的還是他收尾的願景:

For this reason, it can be stated that the design for social innovation, even though, at the moment, is still very far from being mainstream, by its same nature, is not a complementary design activity. It is, or at least it could be, the anticipation of what, hopefully, will be the design of the 21st century. And therefore, and very pragmatically, it proposes a design activity in which, if the more favorable scenario would be realized, the majority of the design experts could have a role and make their living.

雖然design for social innovation(在我看來,這更接近我理解的social design)目前還不是主流,但也不能被當成是一個補充性的點綴,它可以自我期許成為21世紀的設計。

我不是設計專業裡的人,所以,沒那種資格勇氣與角色期待說那樣的話,但在我看來,從design到social design是一個未來的選項,一個design把握當下機會自我完成的paradigm shift!

(對了,閱讀時也請不要忘了「後語」中的但書與觀察。我好像剛好站在他指出匯合趨勢的另一個方位過來)

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Design for social innovation vs. social design (2014)

原文出處在此

Ezio Manzini

The notion of design for social innovation is frequently considered similar, if not coincident, with the one of social design. In my view, to do that is an error: the two expressions refer to different activities and have very different implications.

The problem begins with the double meaning commonly attributed to the adjective “social”. One of them, that is also the one used in the expression design for social innovation, indicates that we refer to something concerning social forms. That is, concerning the way in which a society is built. The other one, instead, indicates the existence of particularly problematic situations (such as extreme poverty, illness or exclusion, and circumstances after catastrophic events) to which both the market and the state fail in finding solutions. In other words, when used in this way, “social” becomes a synonym for “very problematic condition”, which poses (or should pose) the need for urgent intervention, outside normal market or public service modalities. It is with this meaning that this adjective made its entrance into the design debate several decades ago, generating the expression: social design.

It comes that, social design, in its original interpretation, is a design activity that deals with problems that are not dealt with by the market or by the sate, and in which the involved people do not normally have a voice (for the simple reason that they do not have the economic or political means to generate a formal demand). From here arises the ethical, noble nature of social design. But also, its limit: if these socially sensitive issues do not express a formal demand, neither can they sustain the costs of design. And therefore, design experts must work for free, in a charity mode (in some cases, they can work for a charity organization and be paid for that; however, this occurs within the framework of initiatives that, on the whole, are charitable in nature). Therefore, implying the idea that there is a normal design that operates in economical terms, and another one that is promoted for ethical motivations and enhanced in a charity mode, the second, i.e. the social design, is intrinsically a complementary activity: a design that, to exist, asks for someone else who generously can and will pay for it.

On the other side, design for social innovation starts from quite different premises. The first, as anticipated, is that it intends social in its more precise sense. That is, related to the way in which people generate social forms. The second is that what it produces are meaningful social innovations. That is, solutions based on new social forms and unprecedented economical models. The third, is that it deals with all the kinds of social change towards sustainability: the ones concerning the poor, of course, but also the ones concerning the middle and the upper classes, when the social and cultural changes they generate are capable to reduce the environmental impact, regenerate common goods and reinforce the social fabric.

For this reason, it can be stated that the design for social innovation, even though, at the moment, is still very far from being mainstream, by its same nature, is not a complementary design activity. It is, or at least it could be, the anticipation of what, hopefully, will be the design of the 21st century. And therefore, and very pragmatically, it proposes a design activity in which, if the more favorable scenario would be realized, the majority of the design experts could have a role and make their living.

Post Scriptum.   Having made this schematic differentiation between social design and design for social innovation, it should be added that, in contemporary reality, this differentiation tends to blur because social design and design for social innovation are converging and areas of objective (and very productive) overlap are created: social design is increasingly oriented towards social innovation, recognizing that this is the only possibility for solving the problems it traditionally deals with. In turn, facing the extension of the economic crisis, design for social innovation is more and more frequently involved in initiatives that invest socially sensitive issues.

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