Social Design: Designing for impact

Posted 31/08/2016 by Lubna


We've moved our blog! Click here to keep up to date with us!
Designing to solve complex social issues can be demanding to say the least, it requires a great deal of patience, empathy and ingenuity. It is a sector within the industry that can be unbelievably rewarding as ultimately, you have the opportunity to create positive change.

It’s an area of design that I personally feel very passionate about, my own journey into design started at a social innovation hub where I learnt how to apply my design training to socially challenging briefs. You are taught to think beyond the individual and to design for communities, whilst considering the social, environmental and economic impact of your services and products.

Designers have the ability to influence emotions and experiences by using creative thinking to identify and disrupt, approaching challenges with an attitude that welcomes and embraces failures. This is important when designing for the social sector, some projects address sensitive topics and a large part of the outcome is to educate, challenge cultural norms and preconceived notions. The design process itself is always eye-opening, it needs to be iterative and collaborative in order to generate the best outcome.

Socially responsive design needs to be celebrated, so I would like to share some projects that are truly life-changing and demonstrate the impact creative thinking can have.

First up, an idea that addresses a critical need – the AidPod. It is an anti-diarrhoea kit called “Kit Yamoyo” meaning the “Kit of Life”, and it is currently being tested. The aim is to deliver healthcare to hard to reach communities by utilising Coca-Colas distribution infrastructure. This is a great example of an idea that causes minimal disruption to a community, taking advantage of pre-existing networks. The packaging is also very clever, it has been designed to fit in-between the coca-cola bottles in crates, ensuring that these kits can be transported with minimal effort.

Another example is Littlesun, a lightweight solar powered lamp designed for rural communities that don’t have access to electricity. It provides five hours of light and is rechargeable, making reading, cooking or working easier. Most importantly it is affordable, making this more cost efficient compared to common kerosene fuelled lanterns.

Social design is all around us, companies like IDEONesta and DESIS are constantly designing for social impact, ensuring that it develops within the design industry. If you are interested in reading more about similar projects then have a look here: