UAL’s researchers are active in defining, describing and critically assessing social design and design for sustainability.
We do this through practical projects with partners in community settings, local government, business and public services.
The Social Design Institute draws on this varied expertise to bring together articles in which UAL researchers share insights, perspectives and positions.
Our reports present more in-depth exploration and analysis focusing on a particular project or body of work.
MAKE @ Story Garden Evaluation, February 2022
The Social Design Institute was invited to conduct the (e)valuation of the MAKE @ Story Garden community creative space in Camden which was a partnership between UAL Central Saint Martins, Somers Town Community Association/The Living Centre, Camden Council and Lendlease. SDI Senior Research Fellow Dr Patrycja Kaszynska designed the (e)valuation and is the lead author of the report delivered in collaboration with co-authors Samuel Mitchell and Prof Adam Thorpe. You can read the report in full and in summary here:
Seed Fund Award 2021
The Social Design Institute launched a new Seed Fund Award initiative in January 2021. Academic staff were invited to submit ideas for small-scale social design and design for sustainability projects to be co-developed with the Institute over time. Of a total of 17 diverse entries, two projects were selected for SDI support:
‘The Real Me’: Addressing Youth Violence Through Creativity - a co-creation project between Box Up Crime and UAL
Led by Val Palmer (Senior Academic Recruitment Coordinator, Central Saint Martins) and David Preston (Platform Leader, Strategy & Identity, Graphic Communication Design Programme, Central Saint Martins).
- Watch the film on YouTube (opens in a new tab)
- 'The Real Me': Addressing Youth Violence Through Creativity Report (PDF 1,213KB)
Countering the Disinformation Machine: Public engagement with Southwark Council’s COVID-19 immunisation strategy
Led by Dr Danah Abdulla (Programme Director, Graphic Design, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Art), Dr Silvia Grimaldi (Course Leader, MA Service Design and Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Pharma Factory, London College of Communication), Dr Hena Ali, Senior Lecturer, MA Service Design, London College of Communication) and Jeffrey Doruff (Designer, Researcher and Project Coordinator, UAL).
Our working papers present original research by the Social Design Institute's researchers and collaborators, providing new insights on social design.
- Working Paper 1: Christian Nold carries out a global systematic review of contemporary design practices and the academic literature of design in relation to prisons:
Towards a Typology of Design in relation to Prisons (PDF 492KB)
- Working Paper 2: Christian Nold develops a tentative socio-material framework for categorising systems articulation within design:
Towards a Socio-material Framework for Systems in Design (PDF 485KB)
- Working Paper 3: Patrycja Kaszynska explores the concept of evaluation - its history, its purpose and its effects in the ‘real’ world: Evaluation: Concepts and Practice (PDF 445KB)
- Working Paper 4: Patrycja Kaszynska looks at the challenges of evaluation in relation to place-making interventions, considering places as part of wider systems and as systems in themselves: Value in Places and Places in Systems (PDF 363KB)
- Working Paper 5: Tuukka Toivonen, Melanie Hecker and Lilian Weiermann look at how collaborative workspaces could be reimagined and redesigned as spaces for regenerative creativity: Designing New Spaces of Creativity for the Regenerative City (PDF 372KB)
The Social Design Institute's specially commissioned position papers showcase some of the diverse thinking and innovative practice in social design and design for sustainability that exists across UAL.
What we've learned:
Social design is collaborative and participatory
- Dr Nela Milic argues that designers must be responsive to the needs of the community and makes the case for co-design as an important force in bringing about social change: Social Design is Responsive Design (PDF 703KB)
- Professor Alison Prendiville shows how design expertise enables meaningful trans-disciplinary collaboration:
A View of Design within Trandisciplinary Research (PDF 542KB)
- Professor Dilys Williams shows how fashion can be practiced as a means of creative self-expression and reflection as well as a way of promoting culture grounded in equity and sustainability:
Fashion as Sustainability in Action (PDF 430KB)
Social design makes change visual and tangible
- David Cross proposes that art, design and the humanities—as spaces for creativity and criticality – can promote ‘planetary health’ by developing and sustaining connections between social values and cultural practices:
Get Well Soon: Planetary Health and Cultural Practices (PDF 1.1MB)
- Professor Becky Earley shares how she uses textile design and making to open up conversations about unsustainable economic systems:
From Sustainable to Circular to Social Textile Design Research (PDF 726KB)
- Professor Pratap Rughani explores the role that design can play in promoting dialogue and understanding in times of political polarisation:
Design for Dialogue: Valuing Doubt in an Age of Conviction (PDF 397KB)
Social design connects experiences with structures and institutions
- Professor Sandy Black examines how design-led small and micro fashion businesses pioneer solutions for fashion industry:
Valuing Practice and Practitioners in Fashion Research (PDF 388KB)
- Professor Lorraine Gamman and Professor Adam Thorpe describe how the application of social-design centred methodology to their work within the criminal justice system has enabled them to address the use, abuse and misuse of objects, environments, systems and services: Design Against Crime: An Innovative and Inclusive Approach to Crime Prevention (PDF 443KB)
- Professor Lucy Kimbell discusses some characteristics of social design and the context in which it has emerged:
Double-Loop Social Design: An Introduction to Social Design and Design for Sustainability (PDF 671KB)
- Dr Betti Marenko reflects on how the ever-increasing use of technology impacts upon human experience, agency and creativity: Stay alert to the toolification of experience. The technocratic shift is here. (PDF 385KB)
Social design is critical, reflexive and contextual
- Dr Jamie Brassett (formerly Reader in Philosophy, Design and Innovation at UAL) explores the ontological conceptualisation of social design and argues for its institution as an 'assemblage'.
Assemblages of Social Design (PDF 189KB)
- Dr Maria Patsarika demonstrates how design is a form of social dialogue conducive to mutual learning:
Design Participation as Social Learning (PDF 413KB)
- Professor Malcolm Quinn shows how designing has been caught up with politics and publics for many decades:
Social Design and Social Observation: A Utilitarian History (PDF 521KB)
Alternatively, you can download all 13 position papers as a single document: