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Design Society Development (DSD) DESIS Lab

is a multi-

disciplinary community of practice, based at the Faculty of Art,

Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, that seeks to

better understand how design can best serve the emerging needs of

broader society, specifically in the face of staggering inequality and

rapid change in Gauteng, South Africa. Our lab is currently focused

on challenging the ethnocentric view of the world brought about

through modernization, and hence plays particular interest to

our local context, cultural diversity and local needs. As designers

we undertake design research projects through participatory, and

preferably multi-stakeholder, human-centred methodologies in order

to bring about appropriately considered change. The DSD DESIS Lab

includes participants from design, the social sciences, economics

and art. Activities undertaken within the auspices of the lab include

practice, research activities and information dissemination.

The DESIS Network is an international network of 48 design labs, based in design

schools and design-oriented universities, actively involved in promoting and supporting

sustainable change. The DESIS association was formed between the Politenico di

Milano (Italy), The New School (USA), University of Arts London (UK), Universidade

Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Jiangnan University (China), and Tongji

University (China). In June 2014 and the DSD DESIS Lab was accepted as the fourth

lab based in Africa shortly thereafter. The DSD DESIS Lab is also a promoter of the

international DESIS Food Cluster together with Polimi DESIS Lab, Milan and Strategic

Design Senarios (SDS), Brussels.

The DSD DESIS Lab meets monthly to interrogate research, projects, methods

and products that impact on the intersection and interplay between design, society

and development in our specific context. We understand


as referring to the

conscious choices we make in creating systems (community, society & productive

systems) and technologies (products, artefacts, communicative technologies, systems



as the human context that includes the broader social systems

of culture, economy, politics and environment; and


as the discourse and

practice of positive and considered change. We draw on critical political economy, social

sciences, appropriate technology development, participatory and human-centered

design, and other design approaches in our practice and research. For more info please