Social Design

Dutch Design Daily

Making Social Design visible

By 20-08-2016

One Week About Social Design by Cindy van den Bremen

The work of social designers is not always visible or tangible. Processes are often elusive to outsiders and that’s why it is often not clear what my role and work as a social designer entail.

As an initiator of projects or as a project leader, you start by making yourself visible. But as the project progresses, your role changes; you are increasingly fading into the background. This is how you can make sure that once your work is done, the project will not collapse like a house of cards, but will be carried by the people with whom you cooperated, and therefore no longer depends on you.

The effect and the impact of a project are first and foremost experienced by the people who are directly involved. Often, effects are only really tangible and visible in the long run. Usually, you are part of a larger plan or project (area development, for example), and that’s why it is sometimes difficult to make the work and the added value of the social designer visible and tangible.

Sometimes, people who have worked with social designers are a bit skeptical at the start, but they are often enthusiastic when they see what the results are. Last year, during the Create Out Loud Talk show, Martin Bouwman of Waterschap de Dommel (Waterboard De Dommel) stated that working with designers is really quite different: “I’m used to working with engineers; technically, they’re very skilled. So you know in advance what the outcome is. And in this project you don’t know what the outcome will be, which makes you feel uncomfortable … it’s a journey.” Months later he said to be sincerely proud to be (joint) client of this major project. * It opens up so many new perspectives and opportunities for the work of the Waterschap and the way they interact and communicate with customers. That’s one more ambassador!

* The relevant ‘Stroompunt’ project by Renee Scheepers and Alissa van Asseldonk can be visited during Dutch Design Week 2016 at the exhibition of joint client Woonbedrijf on Wal 2.