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Designing For or Designing With?

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Helena KRAFF and Eva Maria JERNSAND


A major challenge for social design is related to roles, and the relationship
between designers and those that a design proposal is intended for. Humancentred
design processes are supposed to start with the people we are designing
for. However, by using the phrase “designing for” instead of “designing with”, it is
implied that something will be delivered, rather than created in collaboration.
Similarly local stakeholder ownership is often highlighted as important. Yet, the
underlying framework is most often set by a design team: it is they who set the
topic, own the tools, and therefore have control and power over the process. It
needs to be recognized that by doing so, alternative views might be pushed back,
and we might not notice what topics are left out or who is being excluded. The
purpose of this paper is to contribute to a more nuanced discussion of social
design by problematizing the concepts of local stakeholder ownership, roles and
power. This is done through a critical reflection of the authors’ own active
involvement in a social design project in Kisumu, Kenya.


PUBLISHED: Proceedings from the The 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference, 2014


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