‘Design para Democracia’ at the Graduate Program in Strategic Design of Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos.

Here at the Graduate Program in Strategic Design of Universidade do Vale dos Sinos, we discussed the relation between Democracy and Design by organizing 5 events:
The 1st event reflected on the relations between design, media, society and politics while discussing how symbolic appropriations and visualities of politics happen.
The 2nd event discussed how different areas of knowledge design and create projects to promote citizenship within the urban context. Representatives from urban design, architecture, photography and music were invited for the discussion.
The 3rd event aimed at discussing ethics within the design processes that address the promotion of more democratic social scenarios. We reflected on the principles that motivate, influence, and guide designers when fostering the democratic dimension of society.
The 4th event shed light on the democratic practice within our institution and Design Program.
The 5th and last event fostered the reflection on what designers has been doing towards promoting more democratic practices and scenarios.

Some crucial questions addressed were: which are the features of a design practice able to promote these scenarios? Which are its process features? Which are the actors involved? Which is its focus and context of action?

The last event consisted of an open discussion in which, based on the previous activities, we defined our statement to be uploaded on Stand up for Democracy website and shared with our design community.
This statement emerges from our different points of view and it is the starting point for organizing our next steps in discussing and acting in the perspective of a design practice able to contribute to the democratic dimension of our societies.

So, here it is:
When, as designers and researchers in design, we act towards contributing to the democratic dimension of society, our purpose is not just about allowing an increasingly higher number of people to have access to decision-making power.
We understand that our actions have to address the distribution of opportunities and the different ways of empowering. On one hand, when we say that we have to foster access to opportunities, we mean that through the design practice we have both to practice and allow other people to practice (and get used to) self-expression and decision-making. On the other hand, when we state that we have to empower people and to do that in different ways, we identify in designing and researching in design focusing on the local context the proper way to do it, and moreover a way to strengthen the understanding of local potentialities and possibilities for acting, being and for creating new realities.
Moreover, we understand that we need to design critical and reflective design processes for decision-making and knowledge production. This means for us that these processes have to foster people’s awareness, as well as to invite and support the exploration of the different possibilities and potentialities of their reality.

Finally, this statement is open and work-in-progress. It is actually a GoogleDoc to which everyone can access and contribute. However, if you do that we want please use the review function, in order to add your point of view but to not delete other people’s point of view.

Chiara Del Gaudio

Assistant Professor, UNISINOS

Porto Alegre, Brazil

Fields of Action
It sets a stage on which diverse actors can come together and democratically collaborate in shaping their present and future world. It engages diverse people and publics in co-design and co-production processes concerning different aspects of their everyday life.
It increases the opportunities for citizens to participate in deliberative processes. It focuses on transparency (which enables citizens to be aware of the on-going process of governance) and deliberative methods (which is the opportunity to be better involved in decision making processes).
It refers to all the design initiatives that are particularly responsive to the goals of democracy. It may deal with the provision of basic human rights (such as access to food, shelter, health care, and education) and, more in general, with the transition towards a more resilient, fair and sustainable society.