Malmö University 20 years – celebrate with us

Utskrift från Malmö universitets webbplats


Three children painting a chair

The Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Lab is hosted by the School of Arts and Communication (K3) at Malmö University. The Lab focuses on how design can be used to explore and raise discussions about societal challenges. It does so both through research projects and teaching activities.

The Lab is part of the international DESIS network that includes design schools from all over the world engaging with questions of social and environmental sustainability in their research and teaching activities.


See all DESIS Lab news on the K3 blog


The Lab is engaged both in research and teaching activities. When it comes to research, the focus is mainly on exploring the intersection of participatory design, sustainability, and social innovation. Through a design-practice based approach researchers have in the past ten years been engaging with different actors to design and explore possible alternative futures in relation to sustainable living. Some of the key focus areas are participatory innovation and co-production in the public sector, alternative economies and production, and cross-sector collaborations.

Research activities are continuously in dialogue with and engaging students from courses and programs at K3. Some of the courses are Co-design: design, democracy and participation (free standing course at bachelor level) and Design and social Innovation (within the Interaction Design Master's programme).

Previous and current research projects

  • 2009–2012 | Malmö New Media, European Structural Funds. This project has been supporting the establishment of Malmö Living Labs leading to a number of experiments such as the releasing of the first Scandinavian movie under a Creative Commons license on the Pirate Bay, the setting up of the first Swedish makerspace, and the co-design of a social innovation incubator for the city of Malmö. See Living Labs Fabriken, The Neighbourhood, and The Stage.
  • 2012–2017 | Living Archives: Enhancing the role of the public archive by performing memory, open data access, and participatory design is a research project funded by the Swedish Research Council. The project analyzes and prototypes how digital archives for cultural heritage can become social resources, how they can facilitate social change, create cultural awareness and collective collaboration. See the Living Archives website.
  • 2014–2017 | Urb@Exp. Urban Governance by Experiments. An Urban Europe-funded project focusing on Urban Labs and experimentation in cities as a way to establish new forms of governance. See the Urb@Exp website.
  • 2014–ongoing | ReTuren, an upcycling station. A new service to explore waste handling and sustainability from an holistic perspective.
  • 2013–ongoing | Malmö Innovation Arena. An Urban Lab driven by the City of Malmö, engaging actors across sectors to address societal challenges in the city of Malmö.


To be updated

Recent publications

Hillgren, P. A., Seravalli, A., & Eriksen, M. A. (2016). "Counter-hegemonic practices; dynamic interplay between agonism, commoning and strategic design." Strategic Design Research Journal, 9(2), 89.

Emilson, A. (2015). "Design in the space between stories: design for social innovation and sustainability – from responding to societal challenges to preparing for societal collapse." PhD diss., Malmö University.

Ehn, P., Nilsson, E. M., & Topgaard, R. (Eds.) (2014). Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Seravalli, A. (2014). "Making Commons: Attempts at Composing Prospects in the Opening of Production." PhD diss., Malmö University.

Last updated by Johanna Svensson