Margherita Vacca, Francesco Cantini, Alessio Tanzini, and Fabio Ballerini
As Laboratory of Design for Sustainability (LDS), our main objective is to investigate and analyze the contribution of design to complex contemporary challenges, applying the sustainable paradigm through a systemic and critical approach, i.e. in its multiple environmental, social, cultural and economic nature. Our presentation proposal starts from a reflection on the heavy global upheavals, such as the proliferation of ecological disasters, the lack of care for the Other and the Elsewhere, and growing social inequalities – proposing the need to redirect the attention of design toward an eco-social perspective, as the two components cannot be addressed individually because they are deeply intertwined (Armiero, 2021).
So how do we design in times of trouble? Through national and international R&D projects, we have investigated and studied how to answer this question, trying to outline and promote an Eco-Social perspective of a highly systemic and speculative nature. The invitation for design is to engage in critical dialogue with other disciplines; in this sense, we will present case studies that have seen the establishment of interdisciplinary design discourse, including areas relating to the social and natural sciences.
The aim is to compose a scientific framework of interdisciplinary methods and tools (design-driven, co-design, systemic thinking, participatory approach) that arises in the border spaces between knowledge and real points of critical dialogue among academic silos. A tentacular operation (Haraway, 2016) is necessary to understand the complex challenges, or rather missions, that await the designer to explore new possibilities of applying systemic thinking to design and to develop a critical point of view essential for promoting an alternative to the status quo.
The output of our critical enquiries is the development of an eco-social design framework consisting of three design formulas intended to provide a possible direction for design research and practice which deal with complex issues and transdisciplinary connections. By visualizing a different and critical application of the systemic approach, we intend to present how design research, practice and methodology can be enriched and “re-meant” by the adoption of an eco-social perspective.
Keywords: eco-social perspective, system thinking, design methodology, system design applications, beyond anthropocentrism