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Design for Social Innovation

60 hours – Bachelor in Design – UTFPR

This studio course lets students discuss and realize the role of design in increasing or decreasing social inequalities. To realize that, they must develop a design project together with a disenfranchised community. Before joining a community, however, they must learn how to design together. Hence, the course adopts a participatory approach for the collective learning journey.

The participatory planning is organized around the Rumsfeld Matrix, an artifact that represents the current knowledge of the students: the known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns. This artifact was reviewed and changed at the end of each class. Decisions about the next classes were taken based on this matrix.

In the class of 2019, the students wanted to write a manifesto on social design. They began by reading and discussing different manifestos such as the Anthropophage Manifesto of Oswald de Andrade (1928).

They decided to write together a manifesto that would represent their diverse visions of what social design could be. Instead of relying on consensus for going forward, they preferred to accept and include dissent. Then, the manifesto was constructed with a flexible structure that afforded the dissensus.

Inspired by the Parangolés of Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica, they wrote the first version of the manifesto as a patchwork of ideas.

The patchwork was assembled into a parangolé so that each student could embody their collective ideas.

The parangolé was hung on a statue in the main campus courtyard, staying there for only a single day until the University authorities removed it. This happened in the context of a steep rise of authoritarianism in Brazilian politics.

Reflecting on the limited reach of the wearable manifesto, the students decided to write another version of the manifesto, this time using a digital means.

The manifesto (unpublished, 2019) breaks with most of the visual conventions imposed by the colonialist design canon: regular grids, golden rules, transparent typography, white color as breathing space, low contrast, and consistency.

After writing the manifesto, the students did some further interventions in the University public space, asking for local problems they could address in future projects. This time, they wrote a warning at the bottom saying that “if this poster is taken off, you will know that there are some people who does not want you to express yourself”.

The projects inspired by this feedback are being developed by the class of 2020.

Categories: Teaching.

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