What Design Can Do! 2013

“When design interacts with other disciplines like science and engineering, you’ll have better results,” David Kester said in a debate with Timo de Rijk and Jan Konings on 16 May at the international conference What Design Can Do! The men explored design's ability to solve problems in the debate, hosted by The New Institute. In another discussion on 17 May, Anthony Dunne, Rahul Mehrotra and Alastair Fuad-Luke talked about the trend of designers and architects focusing more on processes than on final products. Reports and audio files of the two sessions and the study "Social Design For Wicked Problems" are online now. 

What Can Design Do? #1: Claims and Promises

In this breakout session, we examined design's potential to genuinely solve problems and its significance for society. An opinion piece written by Timo de Rijk and published in the NRC Handelsblad and Archined recently sparked a debate in the Netherlands in which the gulf between engineer-designers and artist-designers has appeared unbridgeable, especially with respect to the groups’ respective claims, promises, and problem-solving expectations. In this session, we looked at the role of the media, which seem to be more of an arena for attention-getting than for validation and discourse. We asked where designers’ responsibility ends, and whether design critics should be held to account. With Timo de Rijk, David Kester and Jan Konings. Moderator: Tim Vermeulen.

What Can Design Do? #2: Redefining Results

With problem-fixing and grand master plans often turning out to be the wrong approaches in hindsight, more and more designers and architects these days are shifting their focus from results to processes. In this breakout session, we looked at new strategies for dealing with the complex, urgent problems the world faces today, and new terms we can use when talking about results. Rather than finding solutions, we talked about creating possibilities and improving processes. With Rahul Mehrotra, Alastair Fuad-Luke and Anthony Dunne. Moderator: Klaas Kuitenbrouwer.

Social Design for Wicked Problems

Alongside the breakout sessions, The New Institute held a closed round-table discussion with experts in which we examined the concept of social design. The meeting served to launch a practical study into social design methods initiated by The New Institute, Tabo Goudswaard and Twynstra Gudde. For more information on the research project and a call for designers and problem owners to get involved, visit the blog.

What Design Can Do! is an initiative of Richard van der Laken of Designpolitie and receives support from numerous sponsors and partners, including The New Institute.

The New Institute holds a breakout session at WDCD2013. Photo: Leo Vegers.
What Design Can Do! 2013
16 May: Claims & Promises
Timo de Rijk, David Kester, Jan Konings
Summary (PDF)
Audio files (MP3)

17 May: Redefining Results
Rahul Mehrotra, Anthony Dunne, Alastair Fuad-Luke
Summary (PDF)
Audio files (MP3)

What Design Can Do!
Visit the conference website
What Design Can Do! 2012
Read about last year's edition