DESIS Philosophy Talk #7.8 The Politics of Nature – Designing for care

ServDes Rio de Janeiro (BZ), 12 July 2023

with Arturo Escobar, Ezio Manzini & Virginia Tassinari and contributions by Yoko Akama, Daniela Sangiorgi, Connor Smith and Carla Cipolla.

The concept of “care,” with all its implications, is not new but has gained new significance in recent years, particularly in relation to the ecological transition. Care for people, the planet, and the web of life is seen as essential for building a sustainable and just society. This understanding becomes even more relevant when considering its relationship with service design. Services are inherently about interactions between people, and the design of these interactions can either formalize them and lack care or create opportunities for caring relationships to emerge from specific contexts.

To contribute to ecological and social regeneration, service design should foster relationships of care among people and between people and the planet. The hypothesis put forward is that social innovation, with its emphasis on care practices, can help reframe service design in more caring, relational, and regenerative ways.

It has been observed that social innovations, developed in various parts of the world, revolve around interactions between people and their environment, which essentially constitute services. These services, in order to be conceived and implemented, require design skills that align with service design principles. However, there is a new dimension to consider: the design of collaborative services. This approach combines service design with care by stimulating collaboration and proximity among stakeholders, creating conditions for caring relationships to emerge and thrive.

In recent years, social innovations have given rise to a new family of services and a new approach to designing them. These services function as platforms for communities characterized by caring relationships. The design process involved in creating these services plays a vital role in imagining and developing them.

“Designing for care” is a DESIS Philosophy Talk aimed at enhancing the design culture by exploring how the intertwining of social innovation and service design can foster relationships of care. It also examines how a deeper understanding of feminist, ecological, regenerative, and pluriversal concepts of care can enrich service design and contribute to the transition towards a more sustainable and just society.

The event consists of an initial conversation on the theme, followed by presentations from designers and researchers working in diverse operational and cultural contexts.