Design for Social Impact 2.0 [Catapult Design]

Following up on a recent post, Heather Fleming of Catapult Design shares her thoughts as an attendee of the Social Impact Design Summit on February 27.  The following was originally published on Catapult’s blog, reposted here with permission.

Last week Cooper-Hewitt and the National Endowment for the Arts hosted a “Social Impact Design Roundtable” with the gracious support of several foundations.  The premise for the day was defined by three questions:

  1. Where are the gaps in socially responsible design?  What are the biggest challenges?
  2. What are organizational models of successful and sustainable ways of working in socially responsible design?
  3. How can we effectively prepare future generations of designers for this growing area of design?

So what were some of the outputs from the roundtable?  Expect a whitepaper synopsis by Julie Lasky available on the web in the next few months.  But in case your expectations are high, there wasn’t any particularly new information revealed at the session.  In the past four convenings I’ve attended, we’ve identified more or less the same challenges:

Social Impact Design Summit

Last week (Feb 27), the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum held an event called the Social Impact Design Summit in New York.  The event was billed as “a chance to broaden the discussion about the current and future state of socially responsible design.  What is it? Who’s doing it well? Why does it matter? What does it mean for the future?”

Bill Moggridge of Cooper-Hewitt describes design and design for social impact this way: “Design is a process that can solve problems, and socially responsible design is design that seeks to solve problems which vex the world’s poor and marginalized communities. Simply put, socially responsible design uses innovation and the tools of design to improve access to services such as healthcare and education and increase social, economic, and environmental sustainability.”

I’m happy to see that this event took place, as it explores the same questions BoP Designer does and it’s a discussion I believe has a lot of potential value to uncover.  My next natural question is, how did it go?  What came out of it?  Cooper-Hewitt says they’ll publish a white paper this spring, which I’m eager to read and I’ll share when it’s released.  But in the meantime, Public Interest Design has created this graphic one-page summary (full post here):

Social Impact Design Summit - Summary by Public Interest Design

(click to enlarge)

I think this is a great starting point for discussion.  What do you think about this assessment of the current state of “design for social impact?”  Is it accurate and it complete?  Does it represent a global reality or just an American or western one so far?  What’s missing?

Were you there?  How did it go?  Who else was there?  What did you learn and what are your ongoing questions?

Please add a comment below, tell us what you think.

Read Cooper-Hewitt’s complete description of the the event or Core77′s brief follow up.