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Student at a grad show
Image courtesy of UAL

DESIS (Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability) is a network of design labs, based in design schools and design-oriented universities, actively involved in promoting and supporting sustainable change.

About this group

University of the Arts London DESIS Lab is coordinated by Adam Thorpe, Reader in Socially Responsive Design Innovation in partnership with DESIS representatives from each of the six colleges of the University:

Based within the Socially Responsive Design and Innovation Hub in the Design Against Crime Research Centre at Central Saint Martins, we are working to bring together the many DESIS type projects, past and present, that have been delivered by the staff and students. The resources and methods that have been developed and applied within these projects are creating an infrastructure and ecosystem that are building further capacity for design for social innovation and sustainability across the University.

Aims and objectives

The UAL DESIS network aims to enrich the research environment and encourage knowledge exchange about social innovation and sustainable socially responsive design. It does this by actively collecting, collating and disseminating existing socially responsive design projects, approaches, processes and methods from research and teaching staff across UAL.

Projects and people identified as relevant to the Network, are asked to consider participating in DESIS activities and to document their work as DESIS case studies (using DESIS templates and typologies) so they can be shared with the UAL, UK and international DESIS networks.

UAL DESIS Lab aims to promote a broad and flexible design agenda, and opportunities for design participation, linked to cross college programmes to be run by DESIS representatives and tutors.


Partners include the six colleges of UAL named above, and numerous social and industry partners that constitute SRvDI, DACRC and UAL networks. The first DESIS project run at CSM is delivered in partnership with London Borough of Camden’s sustainability team and diverse community groups within the borough including ‘transition town’ groups, community centres, neighbourhood associations and local businesses.

Activities and outputs

Some examples of our activities can be found on the following websites:


DESIS Lab Coordinator: 
Professor Adam Thorpe,
Find out more on Adam's research profile

Operations Manager: 
Chloe Griffith,