GUNS AND KIDS : examining a design, place and social innovation studio – DESIS-Lab studio at School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University

Commencement date: 2013
Project status: Completed
Partners: Faulk Foundation and Citizens for Safer PA


Pages from ResearchMethod_E&D_0

This studio course is one of the Senior Labs in the Spring Semester (Jan – May) 2013 in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University. The context for the studio was first proposed in October 2012. At that stage guns were an issue in the USA, but nothing like the high profile social phenomenon — in everyone’s context — that they became post the Newtown Shootings, Dec 16, 2012. The students that elected to take this course did so initially out of an interest in design for social innovation, social change and sustainability. The topic of guns was secondary at that time. That changed with the shooting. Guns were no longer just a part of American life – they were a design issue to be explored. As such in this course we are explored two phenomena: guns and their social meaning and impact and, design’s social and material capacity to enable place-based transformation.

The students who participated in this course were a mix of communication and industrial designers. This was their last studio course before graduating in May. The catalyst for the course was a request by a local advocacy group who wanted to know if we could run a design studio that would help them argue for social change. They were thinking a new range of brochures. As we discussed the course and what design could do, they were told that a new brochure design was possible but not guaranteed. These students wanted to explore design further. As we worked our way through the semester students explored the issue through the frameworks of:

  • Human Centred Design
  • Information Design
  • Design Futures

The outcomes is a design resource book – a reference guide for other designers to use regarding different approaches that design can take when dealing with really wicked social phenomena.

images should be credited to the CMU DP&SI Seniors Studio Spring 2013

File: Design Place Social Innovation_Book

This video was filmed during DESIS-lab Melbourne symposium on 1st March 2012

How can DESIS network address locally-based issues, as well as be a global agent for social change?

There has been much discussion on design, social innovation and sustainability in Japan. My talk will share some insights on the current thinking that is leading this discussion, as well as the mind-sets and obstacles that are hindering this discussion from progressing further into concrete action. These insights will be presented with reference to recent discussions taking place on developing a model of Asian Sustainability. In contrast to European and US models that is framed around advancing economic development, the Asian sustainability framework seeks to be in harmony with local cultures, the environment and incorporate a diversity of values. One of the provocations I make is, how can DESIS network address locally-based issues, as well as be a global agent for social change? Can Australia play a role in bridging the economically developed northern hemisphere with the developing countries in the south through design and sustainability?”

Design consultant
Professor, Tokyo Zokei University (industrial design & sustainable projects)
President, open house inc.
Director, LLP Eco Design Institute
Representative, o2 Japan
Board member; Japan Institute of Design Promotion
DESIS Japan co-ordinator

After he graduated from Tokyo Zokei University, he has worked for a housing industry and a design firm before setting up his own office as an independent industrial designer in 1978.
For the first half of his career, he has worked mainly on projects for major Japanese industries, including electric home appliances, electronic devices, audio visual equipments, transportations, packages and many other products from various deferent categories. The latter half of his career has been dedicated more to work for local SMEs as a design consultant while studying and teaching at design schools.
Besides working on research projects on “design for sustainability”, he is always trying to apply the philosophy and the method to his practical daily works.
He is currently specialized in the field of Design for Sustainability, including Eco-Design, Universal Design, Kids’ Design and Design for the cause.


Design, When Everybody Designs by Ezio Manzini
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