Social Innovation

To begin my discussion i’ve included a few “innovation” research links. The first is  a widely popular book on the subject by Robert Verganti, and with a name like Design-Driven Innovation you can be at no loss as to what the book pertains to be about. I have only read bits and pieces so far, but it has come highly recommended and I can’t wait to get into it. Another thesis paper i’ve been looking at is by Max Synder from Carnegie Mellon. Entitled Creativity+Participation; 3 frameworks for innovation, it can also be accessed via the link:http://work.maxils.com/wp-content/uploads/MaxILS_thesisPaper.pdf 

Secondly I have found the DESIS network to be an invaluable resource with a vast array of inspiring social projects. 3 particularly innovative schemes include:

Searching for Marginalized Wisdom, A project about “visualizing and rebuilding the creative community” http://www.desis-network.org/projects/search-marginalized-wisdom

Wall: Digital Hands, Incorporating digital technology and waste water into traditional textile manufacture.http://www.tedresearch.net/research/detail/digital-hands/

Design for Empathy, Designing products and interventions that promote conflict resolution amongst groups in wider society. http://www.desis-network.org/projects/design-empathy-products-conflict-resolution

At their core, all these projects illustrate how strong unique design thinking can be executed in a real world context. However “Design for Empathy” particularly goes beyond the notion of just designing with the values of someone else in mind. Instead it aims to develop a product experience that will elicit a particular empathetic response from its user, by no means an easy task.  Emphasis on such approaches need to be more largely acknowledged and applied, especially in a design community where empty rhetoric and many, well intentioned but hallow approaches, remain at large

Lastly, I would also like to mention, LeNS, the learning network on sustainability. (http://www.lens.polimi.it/) The local oceania branch http://lensoceania.org/ includes many progressive student projects including RMIT’s Social Studio. The thinking behind this particular project was to create a retail shop system, for a local NGO, without fixed addresses. Innovative thinking saw the students design the system and artefacts around a portable business enterprise. A video with a more detailed explaination of the project can be found via the 2 links: http://vimeo.com/13599683 & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OasMWA9Ifdc&feature=player_embedded

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