Can design go beyond critique? (Trying to compose together in opening production)

Anna Seravalli


This paper aims at contributing to the emerging field of design for social innovation (D4SI) discussing the insights from the author’s long-term involvement as a design researcher in a social innovation project. In order to discuss this experience a particular perspective is introduced, according to which D4SI can be considered an attempt of design to go beyond critique, and, specifically, of composing together (Latour 2010). In this understanding D4SI can be considered as a collective effort towards the construction and exploration of alternative ways of living and working.
In deepening how D4SI can be understood as composing together, some reflections are made on the author’s involvement in the maker-space STPLN, a platform where production processes are opened and attempts of composing new ways of making things and delivering services are carried out.
By highlighting some of the challenges emerged from being a designer in STPLN, the paper develops two reflections. The first one is related to togetherness and it argues that, in dealing with collective compositionist processes, designers need to acquire skills and look for a possible role that is different from the one of the enabler. The second reflection deals with how to assess composing together. From the experience with STPLN, it emerges how compositions need to be accountable in diverse discourses in order to travel further and, hopefully, generate future prospects.

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