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Introducing the Social Design Institute

Written by
Jocelyn Bailey
Published date
10 September 2019

On 19 September, the UAL Social Design Institute hosted a series of inaugural events as part of its pilot year during London Design Festival. The events were part of the London College of Communication’s LDF programme, this year entitled ‘Emergence’.

Professor Simon Ofield-Kerr, and Professor Lucy Kimbell, Director of the Social Design Institute and Professor of Contemporary Design Practices at UAL, introduced the new Institute, describing the plans for its development over the coming year.

International guests, UAL students and staff, and other experts from across the design research and practice community participated in the day's events.

These included a workshop, panel discussion, and keynote that together explored the contemporary state of, and context for, social and sustainable design:

Workshop: Futures That Need Anticipating: Making and Discussion Studio

Provocations by Duncan FairfaxProfessor Cameron TonkinwiseDr. Maria PatsarikaDr. Nela Milic, and Dr. Jamie Brassett were followed by a series of group discussions exploring:

  • Algorithmic fairness
  • Supported decision-making
  • Pointless design
  • Knife crime
  • Childhood obesity
  • And the party for the end of the world
A discussion at the Social Design Institute workshop
Photography: aalagbe, Workshop: Futures That Need Anticipating: Making and Discussion Studio.

Panel discussion: Is social design: Political? Utopian? Transformative? Necessary?

UAL/Kings College London PhD student Daniella Jenkins chaired this panel discussion, featuring presentations and reflections from:

  • Professor Adam Thorpe, Professor in Socially Responsive Design at UAL, and Creative Director of the Design Against Crime Research Centre
  • Professor Cameron Tonkinwise, Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney
  • Professor Rebecca Earley, Professor of Sustainable Fashion Textile Design and co-founder of the Centre for Circular Design, Chelsea College of Arts, UAL
  • Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Senior Research Fellow, UAL Social Design Institute
Panel discussion at the Social Design Institute inaugural event
Photography: aalagbe, Panel discussion: Is social design: Political? Utopian? Transformative? Necessary?

Keynote lecture: Staying with the Problem: Social Design Research and Practice

Professor Guy Julier, Head of Research and Professor of Design Leadership, Department of Design, Aalto University, Helsinki, concluded the day’s events with a keynote lecture. He reflected on some longstanding ‘problems’ that have stayed with us, the present we are in, and what a social design institute might do in the future.

Professor Guy Julier at the podium delivering their lecture.
Professor Guy Julier, Aalto University at the UAL Social Design Institute - Inaugural Event

Watch the keynote lecture

Professor Guy Julier on Staying with the Problem: Social Design Research and Practice.

Artist working with textiles
Granny Square Project, 2018-19, Adriana Cobo.

UAL Social Design Institute

The UAL Social Design Institute champions research and practice in social design and design for sustainability - find out more.