Design for Social Innovation

One of the greatest outcomes of design research is its application in the field of what is now known as social innovation. Using research methods such as participatory or co-design and human-centered design, we are creating new concepts and strategies to deal with the world’s greater problems. Issues regarding health, community, education, civil society, and the environment are some of the numerous topics that are currently in research by teams of designers, strategists, social workers, anthropologists.. and an abundance of various relevant fields. Some of the most innovative projects that have created much awareness respectively and have contributed to today’s societies are for example the One Laptop per Child project, aimed at motivating African kids to embrace education; Jamie Oliver and IDEO’s open food Revolution, encouraging better health choices for kids; and FROG’s Project M, which uses¬†mobile phone technology to fight against HIV and other epidemics in South Africa.¬†What makes design research a compelling attribute to these complex social problems is the detailed observation of the existing systems within the context, and the design thinking methodology of integrating out-of-the-box solutions -from basic analogue to highly advanced technologies. All methods are prototyped and tested whilst modifications, ensuring the effectiveness of the result through trial and error. By letting go of all assumptions and cliches, trying the ‘unthinkable’, and experimenting with basic tools, some designers have managed to solve more solutions for people’s lives than most of the world’s powerful politicians.

So yes, design sometimes CAN save the world.