Experts in Rebellion. Design’s Rebirth as Social Artform

Timeframe: 2017-2020

In this PhD research I am working as an embedded designer in several organisations trying to manifest social innovation through and within their community. In a general sense, these are instances of collaborative commons building in resource constrained (underdeveloped) environments. This activity is about testing the salience of design approaches, including the effectiveness of visual design, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing campaigns, and other community building tools. At a higher level, the research asks what is distinctive between new ‘social’ design approaches and traditional commercial design. It also critiques ‘social innovation’ as an hegemonic form of community development in contemporary capitalism, asking if this is an adequate replacement for previous forms of collective investment or simply wallpapering over the cracks in the social contract. This is an anti-disciplinary project that spans the fields of human-computer interaction, design, politics and economics, cybernetics and critical studies of platforms. It is operationalising grounded theory and participatory action research in a critical methodological approach.