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6.b 1/4: Design Literacy enabling Critical Innovation Practices
Design Literacy can be regarded as a catalyst for a move towards a better citizens participation in innovative design processes. By educating the general public to become design literate, there is a chance to support critical innovation and a possible move towards sustainable societies (Stegall, 2006). The challenge is to articulate content, performance and continuity for a critical decision-making process and how this influence critical innovation and design education at large.
The concept ‘Design Literacy’ addresses the complex matter of objectives, content and practices in design processes and education. Research on multiple literacies has evoked considerable debate and redefinition within several areas of educational research (Coiro et al. 2008); the understanding of literacy is no longer bound to the ability to read and write verbal text or numeracy. Design Literacy (Nielsen and Brænne, 2013) are among newly coined literacies. Design Literacy is connected both to the creation and understanding of design innovation in a broad sense. In today’s mostly artificial world, the Design Literacy is regarded as a competence not only for the professional designer, but also for the general public in their position as citizens, consumers, users and decision makers in innovative processes.
Designed artefacts and services influence our lives and values, both from personal and societal perspectives. Designers, decision makers and investors hold different positions in the design process, but they all make choices that will influence new innovations and our future. In order to solve crucial global challenges, designers and investors must cooperate; for this purpose, we argue that design literacy is necessary for all. We argue that the Design Literacies can support practices associated with innovation, democratic participation in design processes, developing and enacting ethical responsibilities, and understanding and supporting sustainable aspects of production and consumption.
The track call for researchers to explore the following points:
Research addressing above points will be useful to promote critical innovation and to inform policy and educational implementation. The importance lies in the needs to better inform design education itself, to improve the approach of design educators, and to educate reflective citizens, policy makers, entrepreneurships and consumers in perspective of critical innovation.
9:00am - 9:25am
Framing the concept design literacy for a general public
OsloMet - Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
Educating the general public to be design literate can be a catalyst for both environmental protection and degradation, human aid and human-made disasters depending on how the scope of design is framed – and how ‘design literacy’ is defined. This paper explores how design literacy can support critical innovation and sustainable issues by sketching a conceptual framework on how to cultivate ‘design literacy’. The research approach is a literature review of key texts on the topic of design literacy for a general public. Four narratives are identified: ‘Awareness through making’, ‘Empower for change and citizen participation’, ‘Address complexity of real-world problems’, and ‘Participate in design processes’. Moving towards more sustainable modes of consumption and production, a design literate general public provides a critical mass of users empowered to question how a new innovation supports the well-being of people and the planet and to voice their own ideas.
9:25am - 9:50am
Developing design literacy for social agency
1Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Business, Finland; 2Aalto University School of Business
Preparing a workforce that is well-equipped with the skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of our global human society is a key responsibility of design and higher education. Extant research has advocated design as one of the essential skills to master in the future, and this design literacy has been claimed to be a critical factor in creating innovations and new solutions towards transforming our societies. To explore how non-designers become more design literate, in this paper we present findings from a study looking at how multidisciplinary student teams develop their design literacy in an action-oriented course setting. Based on our initial analysis, blending the boundaries between universities and the surrounding society positively contributes towards developing design literacy. This, in turn, has pedagogical implications as well as increases our understanding on how design travels to other disciplinary domains.
9:50am - 10:15am
A Framework to Accelerate Universal Design Literacy
LUMA Institute, United States of America
Design has historically been a specialty, something practiced exclusively by engineers, architects and all manner of design professionals. This is changing. Just as arithmetic was once a peripheral skill until the industrial age brought about the need for math literacy, the socioeconomic conditions of our current age are heralding the need for millions of people to level up in design. The expanding role innovation and collaboration play in our daily work, combined with the ever-increasing complexity and rate of change of today’s products, services, and systems are making the case for design literacy. This paper: 1.) makes the case that design is poised to become the next universal literacy; 2.) argues that in order for such a literacy to arise, there must first exist a framework of agreed-upon skills that are taught and practiced by the masses; and 3.) proposes such a set of skills along with the research and reasoning that supports this proposed framework.
10:15am - 10:40am
Developing design literacy through brand-based artefacts
1University of West London, United Kingdom; 2Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal
The brand is a powerful representational and identification-led asset that can be used to engage staff in creative, sustainable and developmental activities. Being a brand the result of, foremost, a design exercise, it is fair to suppose that it can be a relevant resource for the advancement of design literacy within organisational contexts. The main objective of this paper was to test and validate an interaction structure for an informed co-design process on visual brand artefacts. To carry on the empirical study, a university was chosen as case study as these contexts are generally rich in employee diversity. A non-functional prototype was designed, and walkthroughs were performed in five focus groups held with staff. The latter evidenced a need/wish to engage with basic design principles and high willingness to participate in the creation of brand design artefacts, mostly with the purpose of increasing its consistent use and innovate in its representation possibilities, whilst augmenting the brand’s socially responsible values.
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