Process and Theory

Designers are pattern identifiers and pattern makers, trained to recognize trends in existing designed solutions, to see parallels across ideas and to make unexpected, yet somehow obvious connections between disparate ideas. They are challenged to break the mold. Designers are mediators and translators; short time experts, burdened with understanding concepts broadly (sometimes deeply), and interpreting that expert understanding into a human one.

Social designers apply these fundamentals of design thinking to critical human experiences; to influencing human and ecological systems in equitable and sustainable ways. Social designers must look at the wicked problems in the world and consider the constraints of existing systems, cultural influences, time and nature.

To effect change, social designers must develop their role as a bridge between disciplines and begin applying new and borrowed methods to their human-centered toolkit. Their work must be flexible and solutions driven, borrowing from the wisdom of the past and projecting a vision for the future. Consult nature; she’s been at it for a while.

Interventions should be informed by locality and built to evolve. The process should be open, inclusive, collaborative and transdisciplinary. Solutions should leverage existing systems and processes, while working to eliminate disparities and power imbalances within them.