DIP2017: Workshop 01 Social Design: A new challenge that defies ways of thinking (Part 1) (TH/EN)

After announcing the four teams that had been selected to participate in the Design Impact Program with the theme “Dear Elders, hello future me”, the incubation phase began. Experts in various fields visit to impart knowledge on a rotational basis each month. A team of three facilitators was also there to provide consultation to each team, for their projects to achieve the full potential through the incubation phase. This article documents the lessons from the first peer review workshop on 20th September 2017.

Key Insight:

  • Design for social innovation entails a true understanding of the users’ perspectives and experiences. The key is to create a prototype that clearly reflects the users’ perspectives by immersing yourself in the lives of the users, focusing on involvement through co-design and the human-to-human relationships.
  • Design for social innovation requires clear indicators. Data used in the design must be the real insights into users, not the assumptions of the designer.

Design for social innovation (or design for social impact)

a design process or the uses of the design process to bring about social change with a positive impact, changing the designer’s attitudes from focusing on commodities and graphics as end results to setting goals for social development.

Design for Social Innovation: Solving problems in a way that breaks with tradition
By Pisate Virangkabutra, lecturer, Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship (international program), School of Global Studies, Thammasat University – one of the facilitators

Design for social innovation is one of the worldwide phenomena happening at present. As the world is experiencing more complex and challenging issues, new problem-solving approaches are needed. More and more agencies apply design to build people’s capacity and frame design as a non-traditional problem-solving method. Social responsibility is becoming more important. Many countries have drafted legislation to enforce it, while several companies have formulated internal policies on contribution to the society and environment. Design for social innovation at its core revolves around relationship-building and in-depth user involvement, urging people to visualize a common goal.

As a designer, the key is an ability to assess whether your design makes a positive impact on the users.

Design for innovation is a new idea or thinking that meets social demand or addresses social issues, emphasizing on building new human-to-human relationships with the user as the center of focus.

Social change through innovation is manifested in a variety of projects across the world. Design thinking is integrated into the innovation process together with in-depth user information to instigate a positive impact or change on the society.



1. The Divine Divas Designed to tackle teen pregnancy in Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, the project devised five aspirational characters to connect with adolescent girls. As girls tend to talk openly while they do their nails, girls are educated and empowered during a manicure session in a space set up in the community. An information kit is given to girls as a reference. This is a great example of how design is used to make positive change, resulting in girls’ education on contraception.


2.Lifestraw The straw-like filter is suitable for communities without access to safe drinking water. With the straw, people can drink straight from natural water resources. Innovation in product design is used to resolve the issue, allowing users to have access to clean and safe drinking water.

Design thinking process: 1. User-centered 2. Empathize with user’s experiences 3. Practical use

Social Design is Possible through a Deep Understanding of the Process  
Social design requires a true understanding of the users’ experiences and perspectives. The insights gained are then used as the basis for designing a system, product, or service. Suitable ideas are formed and refined with a focus on the users and possible outputs. Prototypes are created by immersing yourself in the lives of the users, with user involvement through co-design and the human-to-human relationships.

The diagram illustrates the process of social design as follows.

1. Aim What does your organization do? What is your vision & the overall change you want to achieve? 

2.Objectives How will you achieve your aim? What are the activities you plan to deliver to tackle the issues?

3.Outputs What are the target outputs you can measure each year based on your objectives?

4.Outcomes What is the change you can demonstrate based on your aim? How will your outcomes represent the change from your intervention?

Design for social change is not possible if we don’t know who “we” are.​

Change is Critical
By Preekamol Chantaranijakorn, co-founder, Ma:D Club: a space for people who want to bring about change in the society – Guest lecturer

One of the key goals of social design is tangible change. Preekamol helped each team shape up their initial ideas to have clearer goals through constructive questions to develop the ideas and achieve true insights. For example, the questions include: what does each team want to change? – is it behavior, attitudes towards health, perception of the term ‘aging’, or the living pattern of the future? Another important question to ask is for whom each team wants to develop products/designs – are they today’s elderly or the younger generation who will grow old in the future?

Social design requires clear indicators. Talking about change as an outcome is critical. What we design must align with the resulting outcomes and the target group. Data used in the design must be real insights into users, not the assumptions of the designer.

Continue reading DIP 2017: Workshop 01 Social Design: A new challenge that defies ways of thinking (Part 2) here


FB: https://www.facebook.com/DesigningImpactProgram/