The OTHER Design Thinking

Paradoxically, the contemporary era of globalisation and mass communication has actually fostered a large degree of localisation; the local practices in many societies in both developed and developing worlds are strengthening their local activities. Much contemporary design theory is focused on developing methods that enable creative platforms to arise from which designers can target the needs and demands of society, particularly in the form of services and innovative solutions facing improving the quality of life and wellbeing. This movement in design studies represents an alternative path to the one often taken by designers, who are driven by market demands only to shape physical products. Its proponents argue that designers should redirect their efforts to enhance innovation in society, where demand is not created by consumers, but by ‘social entrepreneurs’ to model a new way of being and doing. Social and community groups can in fact play an effective role in the development of ‘social innovation,’ guiding their knowledge of what is required to make new systems work in their local setting. Social innovation is a fairly new concept in design thinking, utilising design practices in a holistic interdisciplinary context and seeking solutions to social needs. These practices are informed by an understanding of the many elements of social systems and their interconnections. Designers, in turn, may work with local communities as facilitators, utilising their knowledge, conceptual thinking and technical expertise to create effective and well-functioning systems.