Using Social Engagement to Inspire Design Learning

de Vere, Ian and Phillips, Robert (2015) Using Social Engagement to Inspire Design Learning. In: Great Expectations: Design Teaching, Research & Enterprise. The 17th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE2015), 3-4 September 2015, Loughborough University Design School, UK.

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Using Social Engagement to Inspire Design Learning
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Social design and ‘design for need’ are important frameworks for establishing ethical understanding amongst novice product designers. Typically, product design is a value-adding activity where normally aesthetics, usability and manufacturability are the key agendas. Howard [1] in his essay “Design beyond commodification” discusses the role of designers in contributing to cultural expressions designed to influence consumer aspirations and desires. He argues that designers are impelled “to participate in the creation of lifestyles that demand the acquisition of goods as a measure of progress and status.” As emerging consumers, student designers tend to reflect this consumer culture in their work, seeking to add ‘marketability’ by focusing on aesthetic development. However value adding can occur in many different manifestations, often outside commercial expectations and the students’ experience. Projects that may be perceived as having limited market potential can often have significant personal impact for both recipient and designer. Social engagement provides a valuable insight for design students into the potential of design to contribute solutions to societal well-being, rather than serve market forces. Working in a local context can enhance this, with unlimited access to end users, their environs and the product context, enabling the development of user empathy and a more integrated collaborative process. The ‘Fixperts’ social project discussed in this paper has proved to be an effective method of engaging undergraduate students in participatory design within their local community. This model for social engagement has provided an unprecedented learning experience, and established a strong ethical framework amongst Brunel design students.

Keywords:Design for Social Impact, product design education, co-design
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
W Creative Arts and Design > W240 Industrial/Product Design
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Design
ID Code:53758
Deposited On:29 Mar 2023 08:48

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