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SOCIAL DESIGN

THE COURSE

The Master in Social Design is one of four master programs at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Established in 2010, 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.

“To me, good design means that a product has a technological part, an economical part and a social-cultural-societal part. Due to development in our society, economic logic took over and the technological effects are enormous and very disruptive. Therefore we have to emphasize social issues and values that have been neglected. We don’t do it for the economical system but for ourselves, for our own lives. At the very beginning of design was the motivation to improve life.”

– Jan Boelen, Head of Social Design Department

SOCIAL DESIGN DOES NOT EXIST

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.

THE ‘SOCIAL DESIGN’ ATTITUDE AND THE NEED FOR SOCIAL APPROACHES

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.

DESIGN TUTORS, THESIS SUPERVISORS AND GUESTS

Head of department: Jan Boelen

JAN BOELEN (b. 1967, Genk, Belgium) is artistic director of Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium, artistic director of Atelier LUMA, an experimental laboratory for design in Arles, France, and curator of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial (22 Sep–4 Nov 2018) in Istanbul, Turkey.

Since the opening, Z33 House for Contemporary Art has been fashioning projects and exhibitions that encourage the visitor to look at everyday objects in a novel manner. It is a unique laboratory for experiment and innovation and a meeting place with cutting-edge exhibitions of contemporary art and design. With Z33 Research, design and art research studios established in 2013, Boelen is transforming Z33 from exhibition-based to a research-based institution. At the initiative of Z33 and the Province of Limburg, Manifesta 9 took place in Belgium in 2012. As part of his role at Z33, Boelen curated the 24th Biennial of Design in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 2014.

Boelen also serves on various boards and committees including the advisory board of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee in the UK and Creative Industries Fund in the Netherlands. Boelen holds a degree in product design from the Media and Design Academy (now the LUCA School of Arts) in Genk, Belgium.

Head of department: Jan Boelen

Coordinator: Celeste Goncalves

Tutors:

Stephane Barbier Bouvet
Nadine Botha (tekst CD)
Maartje Dros
Brecht Duijf
Dick van Hoff
Jesse Howard
Michael Kaethler
Eric Klarenbeek
Anastasia Kubrak
Angela Rui
Jon Stam
Fabrizia Vecchione
Henriette Waal

Guest Tutors:

Gali Blay
Tobias Bridger
Victor Diaz
Ronnie Fueglister
Emiliano Gandolfi
Duncan Gidney
Alexandre Humbert
Lucas Maassen
Gabriel Ann Maher
Roberto Perez
Gianmaria Della Ratta
Giuditta Vendrame

Alumni Assistants:

Jonas Althaus
Valerie Daude
Marianne Drews
Gabriel Fontana
Basse Stittgen
Vivien Tauchmann

More information on the head, the coordinator and all tutors