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Designing For or Designing With?

Conference paper
Authors Helena Kraff
Eva Maria Jernsand
Published in Proceedings of the 19th DMI: Academic Design Management Conference
Pages 1596-1611
ISBN 978-0-615-99152-8
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Business Administration
School of Design and Crafts
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Mistra Urban Futures
Pages 1596-1611
Language en
Keywords Social design, participation, roles, process ownership, critical reflection
Subject categories Design


A major challenge for social design is related to roles, and the relationship between designers and those that a design proposal is intended for. Humancentred design processes are supposed to start with the people we are designing for. However, by using the phrase “designing for” instead of “designing with”, it is implied that something will be delivered, rather than created in collaboration. Similarly local stakeholder ownership is often highlighted as important. Yet, the underlying framework is most often set by a design team: it is they who set the topic, own the tools, and therefore have control and power over the process. It needs to be recognized that by doing so, alternative views might be pushed back, and we might not notice what topics are left out or who is being excluded. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a more nuanced discussion of social design by problematizing the concepts of local stakeholder ownership, roles and power. This is done through a critical reflection of the authors’ own active involvement in a social design project in Kisumu, Kenya.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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