The Master in Social Design is one of five master programs at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Established in 2010 by Jan Boelen, and since September 2020 headed by Marina Otero Verzier, this two-year masters is structured around intensive workshops and mentoring sessions with design tutors, alongside presentations by guest critics and lecturers. At the end of the first year, students develop a research question that will inform their second-year thesis work and graduation project. The Master in Social Design recognizes the increasing importance of the social dimension in the making of relevant design projects for our day and age, and promotes a holistic understanding of the discipline aligned with our contemporary times.

Design’s social aspect should be considered as an integrated part of the discipline, in a holistic understanding of what design is. The Master in Social Design focuses on the social aspect of design, but does not ignore the discipline’s other components. Students are designers who are prepared to reflect on and develop insights on their purpose and motivations, their role and responsibility towards society, and the desired and attained impact of their design practice. Through their time at the Master Social Design, students are expected to deliver like professional designers, and to use their time studying to develop a specific attitude and way of working.

Our current world is in crisis: democratic, governmental and economical systems and powers are in shift, and new kinds of relationships arise between individual as consumers, producers and distributors. At the Social Design department, we believe in the need to think about new systems of value exchange between the different parties in our societies. These values can be tactile and tangible; it is by and through them that we have to build new bridges between different societal agents.

The Social Design department is a laboratory for an evolutionary society and for symbolic labour. Within it, students will be prompted to develop a ‘social design’ attitude between scepticism – because we know nothing is true – and conviction – because we need to make choices between many meanings. Students will reflect on society, but their findings can only be meaningful if and when they are placed back into society, and instigate debate in a larger, ever-changing context.

A few principles steer the students as they make their way through the master:

The materialised object is still relevant as a tool, as an agent or provocateur; as a trojan horse, as a solution, as a value and as a metaphor; to raise awareness to certain situations, and to develop strategies and tactics to change systems and the powers in a certain system. Students should be aware of this power and design their own tools for creating meaning and shared value as contributions to society. The social designer does not exist

Only when you know, as an individual, what you want for yourself, why you want it and even how you want it, can you reach out to the world and address other people and situations. Only then can you go beyond yourself and become meaningful to others. There is no definition of social design

Students are expected to develop their own definition of social design; the department promotes the creation of personal tools for a dynamic and ever-changing social design practice.

Design is a product of its time and place

Designed objects tell us about the place in the world in which they function and of their manufacturing process. They carry the traces of the maker’s hand, the signature of the designer, the technological possibilities of their time. They bear witness to their time and their stories can be a great source of learning.

Awareness of hidden meanings is crucial for a designer

This awareness will help the creation of each designer’s own meaningful projects and relationships with their contexts. In order to stimulate each student’s awareness, the department will actively seek to turn all questions and all answers around. In that process, the Social Design department will help students discover who they are and what are their personal talents. Students will learn to trust their intuitions, mistrust their first assumptions, and improve their research proficiency, design potential and making skills.


Marina Otero Verzier is an architect based in Rotterdam. Next to her new position at DAE, she is also the Director of Research at Het Nieuwe Instituut (HNI). Before coming to HNI, Otero was based in New York, where she was Director of Global Network Programming at Studio-X. She studied at TU Delft and ETSA Madrid, Columbia University GSAPP and in 2016, Otero received her PhD at ETSA Madrid.

Head of Department: Marina Otero Verzier
Coordinator: Celeste Goncalves

Tutors (current):
Amal Alhaag, Ramon Amaro, Stephane Barbier Bouvet, Nadine Botha, Maartje Dros, Brecht Duijf, Adeola Enigbokan, Dick van Hoff, Jesse Howard, Eric Klarenbeek, Anastasia Kubrak, Jon Stam, Fabrizia Vecchione, Henriette Waal. 

Coordinator Public Program: Delany Boutkan 

Guest Tutors (former and current): 
Gali Blay, Tobias Bridger, Concrete Blossom, Raphael Coutin, Victor Diaz, Ronnie Fueglister, Emiliano Gandolfi, Duncan Gidney, Alexandre Humbert, Lucas Maassen, Gabriel Ann Maher, Roberto Perez, Gianmaria Della Ratta, Giuditta Vendrame 

Alumni Assistants (former and current): 
Jonas Althaus, Valerie Daude, Marianne Drews, Gabriel Fontana, Basse Stittgen, Vivien Tauchmann 

More information on the department head and tutors

Social design: Student projects