The 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 Policenico 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 design as referring to the conscious choices we make in creating systems (community, society & productive systems) and technologies (products, artefacts, communicative technologies, systems integration); society as the human context that includes the broader social systems of culture, economy, politics and environment; and development 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.
The following questions underpin the DSD DESIS Lab:
The key differentiator in this initiative is the focus on a human-centered approach to design, development and creative production.
Primary Research Areas & Activities
The DSD DESIS Lab is an official lab of the Design of Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Network
The DSD DESIS Lab is hosted by the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The DSD DESIS lab is a co-coordinator of the DESIS Food Cluster
The DSD DESIS Lab is a contributor to the Informal, Formal & Collaborative (IFC) DESIS Cluster
Design Society Development DESIS Lab Project Partners:
The University of Johannesburg: Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Departments of Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Multimedia, Graphic Design, Visual Art, Interior Design and Architecture; Faculty of Humanities, Department of Anthropology & Development Studies; Faculty of Economic and Financial Service, Department of Economics and Econometrics; and the Faculty of Engineering, Manufacturing Research Centre.
Tshwane University of Technology, Industrial Design Programme, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
The Wits Siyakhana Initiative for Ecological Health and Food Security
The City of Johannesburg’s Department of Social Development: Food Resilience Directorate
Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
1to1 – Agency for Engagement
Slovo Park Community Development Forum
Tshulu Trust, Limpopo
Terence lectures interaction design, information design and design research in FADA’ s Department of Multimedia. Much of his current research focus is on the role of information architecture in the resolution of open, complex problems in both design practice and design education. Terence and his research partner Jason Hobbs have presented their work at a number of academic and
Angus Donald Campbell is the Head of the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and a Co-Founder of the Design Society Development DESIS Lab. He is a qualified industrial designer with over a decade of university lecturing, research and freelance design experience. His research and design interests focus on design and technology forContinue Reading..
His academic interests range from the South African Social Welfare System, to Agriculture and Sustainable Development, human rights and recently the relation between technology and development. He has published on participatory research, agriculture and human rights in South Africa. Naudé’s M.A dealt with participation in Agricultural Development at the TshikoneloContinue Reading..
An Industrial Designer who completed his Masters in Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and is now lecturing at the Department of Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria. He has a diverse range of interests, specifically focused on design and its potential for development.
Desiree currently heads the Department of Fashion Design at the University of Johannesburg and has been involved with design education for the past 25 years. Her current research interest is in environmental sustainable fashion design. She is also passionate about developing the discourse of the discipline in South Africa and, of course, how all of the above relate to fashion designContinue Reading..
Christa van Zyl teaches graphic design at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg. Her research interests include Human-centred design and design for social development. Christa is currently doing research on socially responsible design practice, as well as action-based research in view of starting her Doctoral studies. She is very involved within herContinue Reading..
Jhono Bennett obtained a Master’s degree in Architecture with design distinction from the University of Pretoria, South Africa (2011). He completed his undergraduate education in Architecture at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal with a supplemented semester abroad at the Carlton University, Ottawa, Canada. Continue Reading..
Amira Omer Siddig Osman is an associate professor in architecture at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to that she worked as a Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria, South Africa for just over 2 years. She finished her basic degree and Masters in Architecture at the University of Khartoum in Sudan in 1988 and 1996 consecutively. In
Martin has completed an MTech Degree in Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and has been a lecturer within the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture for 4 years in both part-time and full-time positions. Martin’s MTech project was titled “Design and development of an improved low-cost ceramic water filter based on the existing Potpaz home water treatment deviceContinue Reading..
Peters’ current interests include human centred design and participatory technology development for historically marginalised communities. He is currently studying towards a Masters’ degree in this field. His dissertation deals with the appropriate design of agricultural equipment for emergent urban farmers in and around Soweto & Johannesburg. He is also interested in the potentialContinue Reading..
Jason has been practicing a combination of information architecture, UX, service design and design thinking since 1997. He worked for digital agencies in Cape Town and London before starting his own company, Human Experience Design, in Johannesburg in 2005. He’s also gained experience working client-side, in start-ups and R & D units. He has been lecturing part time at theContinue Reading..
Ivan Leroy Brown is currently doing his Masters degree in Industrial Design, at the University of Johannesburg. His research is focused on developing sustainable socioeconomic opportunities in urban agriculture through the development of appropriate and accessible beekeeping technology, together with a system for its successful intervention. He is also interested in CommunityContinue Reading..
Tasmin is currently enrolled for a Masters of Design in Multimedia under the supervision of Terence Fenn. Her focus lies in bettering, through human-centered design approaches, the day-to-day experiences of people using public libraries, with a specific focus on the Johannesburg Public Library. In 2015 Tasmin joined Firma, a design company whose value system align with that ofContinue Reading..
Yael Gold is a 2nd year Masters of Design, Multimedia student. Her focus lies in Human-Computer Communication within the medical industry. In 2015, Yael spent 5 months in Holland on a master’s scholarship program at the University of Groningen. Yael currently lectures part-time in the department of Multimedia at the University of Johannesburg.
Antonio is an international MTech: Industrial Design student at the Univesity of Johannesburg. His undergraduate industrial design education was at the University of Chile which inspired his interest in sustainability and user-centered design. These underpin the various design projects in which he participated, all of which had a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary work. Continue Reading..
Malan, N. (Forthcoming). Urban farmers and urban agriculture in Johannesburg: Responding to the Food Resilience strategy. AKREKON. Article accepted to be published in 2015.
Campbell, A.D. & Harrison, P.H. (Forthcoming) Socio-technical Innovation: The Case of a Human-powered Shredder. Full paper accepted for Cumulus Milan, 3-7 June 2015: Virtuous Circle.
Malan, N. (Forthcoming) Design and Social Innovation for Systemic Change: Creating Social Capital for a Farmers’ Market. Full paper accepted for Cumulus Milan, 3-7 June 2015: Virtuous Circle.
Malan, N. & Campbell, A.D. 2014. Design, Social Change and Development: A Social Methodology. Design with the other 90%: Cumulus Johannesburg Conference Proceedings. Johannesburg: Cumulus Johannesburg. pp. 94-101. ISBN: 978-0-620-60373-7.
Osman, A., Bruyns, G., Aigbavboa, C., Campbell, A.D., Malan, N., Fenn, T. (Eds). Part 7: Design Society Development. In International Union of Architects World Congress: UIA 2014 Durban: Architecture Otherwhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values. pp. 1319-1474. Durban, South Africa: UIA 2014 Durban. ISBN: 978-0-86970-783-8
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Brand, K.G. & Campbell, A.D. 2014. In-context and Ecology Immersion for Resilience: An Exploration of the Design of a Household Farming Kit. International Union of Architects World Congress: UIA 2014 Durban: Architecture Otherwhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values. pp. 1332-1343. Durban, South Africa: UIA 2014 Durban. ISBN: 978-0-86970-783-8
Bennett, J. & Osman, A. 2013. Critical Engagement in Informal Settlements: Lessons from the South African Experience. CIB World Building Congress 2013 Proceedings. Brisbane, Australia: International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction.
van Zyl, C. 2013. Supporting a Community through Design: Melville, Johannesburg. Proceedings of the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa: Encultured Design. pp. 271-286. Vaal Univesity of Technology, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: DEFSA. ISBN No 978-1-77012-131-7
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2013. Applying User Journey Design to Resolve Complex Design Problems. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2013. Preparing Undergraduate Design Students for Complexity: A Case Study of the Johannesburg Art Gallery Project. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
Campbell, A.D. 2013. Designing for Development in Africa: A Critical Exploration of Literature and Case Studies from the Disciplines of Industrial Design and Development Studies. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
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Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2012. The Information Architecture of Transdisciplinary Design Practice: Rethinking Nathan Shedroff’s Continuum of Understanding. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Design, Development & Research. pp. 1-15. Cape Town, South Africa: Design, Development & Research Conference. ISBN: 978-0-620-52128-4
Campbell, A.D. & Brand, K.G. 2012. Design of Resilient Products for Small-scale Farming in South Africa. Proceedings of the Agrindustrial Design: 2nd International Product and Service Design Congress and Exhibition on Agricultural Industries – Mediterranean/Food/Design. pp.278-286. Izmir, Turkey: Izmir University of Economics Press. ISBN: 978-975-8789-49-8
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Campbell, A.D., Oosthuizen, T., Ntombela, B., Tuttle, R. & Malan, N. 2012. The Role of Education, Government and Commerce in Design for Social Development. Public Seminar, University of Johannesburg: Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 July.
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