Manzini: New generation of services bases on sustainability and social innovation
- There is a new generation of services emerging that blurs the roles of server and user. This change in paradigm is a result of growing number of problems causing need for more and different kind services.
-These new services are based on sustainability and social innovation, said Ezio Manzini, Professor of Industrial Design at Politecnico di Milano.
Manzini spoke about sustainable design of services at the Service Day at Aalto University on 29th of May.
Original service ideas created
Earlier the society was based on products and consuming. According to Manzini the same system cannot work anymore. This is unbearable because the social and environmental issues have to be met.
In addition problems are growing in number and complexity. For example, the number of elderly people is increasing, and more services are needed.
Manzini has good news: everyday life is now changing. And we also have to change.
- A new approach in the society sees people as assets and not as problems. People are capable and cleaver, their capabilities are part of the solution.
- At the moment many people, groups and organizations worldwide are experimenting new ways of living and producing. As a result hundreds of original service ideas have been found. Collaborative housing, neighborhood care, community gardens, circles of care, to name a few.
Manzini calls this social movement, or waves of social innovation.
Designers challenge people with their ideas
New generation of services blurs roles: who is the user, who is the server and what is the role of service? Manzini takes community gardening in New York as an example. It has been going on since 1978, and the council only supports gardening and the citizens take care of the gardening.
The circle of care in England is similar. The city provides space, some expert staff and economical support but there are active people helping the elderly.
These are called co-produced services, where people are actors. Also designers are needed in this process.
- Designer challenges with proposals people who aren’t used to imagine how the future looks like. There also has to be some fantasy creating. Without contradicting opinions and even fights everything becomes grey, argues Manzini.
Design changes the change
People are starting to live in a different way and this brings out new kind of economy and evaluation of qualities of products. In Manzini’s opinion a new set of values and different qualities have emerged. These include for example quality of time which means slowing down, and several other qualities.
- New media is reshaping the range of possibilities and so also unprecedented forms of organization become possible. At the same time a new political awareness is emerging and social innovation enters political agendas.
- Also design is changing the change, Manzini says.
According to Manzini designers can visualize things that are not visual and that way create better understanding of the society. Designers can create for example videos, prototypes or drawing and feed the conversation.
Designers can also expertise in soft quality, in other words quality that cannot be measured. This means esthetic dimension and beauty in components that are important in life.
Finally Manzini quotes an old Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. The proverb nicely encapsulates his views.
Ezio Manzini is professor at the Politecnico di Milano, Honorary Guest Professor at the Tongji University, in Shanghai, at the Jiangnan University, in Wuxi, and at the COPPE-UFRJ, in Rio de Janeiro. Currently he is Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Parsons, the New School for Design, in New York.
For more than two decades Ezio Manzini has been working in the field of design for sustainability.
Most recently, his interests have specifically focused on social innovation, and on what design can do to support it. In this perspective he started and currently coordinates, DESIS: an international network of schools of design and other design-related organisations active in the field of design for social innovation and sustainability (http://www.desis-network.org ).