Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats www.mah.se

Guest researcher explores design for social inclusion

2017-11-10

Designers need to be prepared to respond to the social challenges of tomorrow, says Dr Yanki Lee, guest researcher at the School of Arts and Communication (K3) at Malmö University.

Dr Yanki Lee is a design researcher and activist previously trained and based at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in the UK. She recently set up Enable Foundation, an initiative that aims to foster social inclusion and innovation through creative participation.

“I work with designing participation for social inclusion, and want to involve the public in co-designing social innovation and co-developing design as a social discipline.

“Using concepts like Action Research and Participatory Design Practice, we explore the relationship between creative citizens and design. Currently, rapid changes are taking place in our world, and we are realising that, outside of our comfort zone, many people think differently to us.

“In this polarised world, how can design researchers respond to these different viewpoints? How can people like us, who work with participatory design, reaffirm, and perhaps even rethink, the role of democracy? We definitely feel the urgency, especially since we don’t have any concrete solutions yet.”

Designing for Our Future Selves

Another theme that Dr Lee is focusing on at the moment is one she calls ‘Design for Our Future Selves’. It is an exploration into facilitating holistic system change by implementing designs with citizens. In this way, she hopes to design for the public, rather than for specific clients.

“I am excited to be at Malmö University and interact with colleagues at K3. I’m really happy to be at the school where many original ideas related to Participatory Design were formed. I’m also keen to understand how the city itself, along with the university, has played a key role in developing this design approach.

“When talking about Participatory Design, a lot of people at Malmö University are interested in the participatory aspects of the method, which are also the political aspects of it. My background is in architectural design. Many of the people at here at the university come from fields that are not as traditional as my own, so I am interested in seeing how design is interpreted in this context.”

Enable Foundation

Earlier this year, Dr Lee received a grant from the Hong Kong government, which allowed her to start Enable Foundation - a non-profit social design agency for action research, co-creation and social design practice between individuals and organisations from private and public sectors.

“We are trying to bring academic research to the real world by connecting academia, civic service providers and the social business sphere. This has been done before, but there aren’t many successful examples.

“Ultimately, we want to come up with a new model that motivates designers to address social issues by using evidence-based research findings that they can then present to their governments. That way, governments are encouraged to create solutions. Our goal is not only to build a new model of social business but to inspire long-term policy changes.”

Text: Amanda Malmquist