Can Relations be Designed? The Role of Design Methods in Social Innovation

Niels Peter Skou, Mette Mikkelsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearch


This paper examines the role of design methods in a social innovation project on a Danish Institution for severely physically and mentally handicapped people. The project was focused on ‘designing’ new or better relations between the residents at the institution and the civil society. During the project a set of specified design methods and the concept of social prototypes were utilized. The article discusses the functioning of these methods. Taking its departure in the concept of ‘fuzzyness’ and ‘the fuzzy front end’ of design projects derived from Elizabeth Sanders and Pieter Jan Stappers the authors argue that the main function of the methods was not to present an accurate picture of the design process but to work as tools for managing ‘fuzzyness’, which in social innovation projects is not confined to the front end of the process but establishes itself as a general condition. Thus the function of the design methods was for the designers to provide legitimacy and for the staff of the institution to provide tools for navigating in a new type of ‘fuzzy’ institution.
Translated title of the contributionKan man designe relationer?: Designmetoders rolle i social innovation
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmerging Practices in Design : Professions, values and approaches
EditorsMA Jin, LOU Yongqi
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationBeijing
PublisherChina Architecture and Building Press
Publication date2014
Commissioning bodyTongji University
ISBN (Print)978-7-112-17280-1
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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