It is important for the DESIS Network to support this open letter, which proposes that the design community has a responsibility to address democracy. As coordinator of DESIS, and with the approval of the DESIS ICC- International Coordination Committee, I am pleased to support this initiative.

The letter invites designers to consider and discuss opportunities in their own practices for enhancing processes of democratization. To be transformative, social innovation has to consider the direction of the desired transformation. Coordinators of DESIS Labs have never collectively discussed this before. The letter from Victor Margolin and Ezio Manzini is an invitation to start a conversation on this topic, drawing on the actions and projects developed in our Labs.

Therefore, in the spirit of the open letter: We invite every Lab to consider organizing an event to discuss this important topic. DESIS Network International will organize a series of DESIS Philosophy Talks dedicated to this topic. We anticipate that other initiatives will emerge for discussion among Network International, DESIS Labs around the world, and our many partners.

Moving towards a more personal contribution to this debate, I observe that the authors deliberately did not detail the characteristics of what they define as a “crisis” in democracy and its causes, leaving this up to the readers. Personally, I see a risk to democracy in the growing income disparities, and the consequent impoverishment of the middle class and working people. In my view, these results from the effects of unrestrained economic globalization.

The actions of the DESIS Labs at the local level, together with the DESIS network, can contribute to fostering positive change by promoting initiatives, projects and actions that oppose these trends, i.e., that favour local development. The small size of our Labs should not discourage us from confronting this huge challenge. DESIS Labs are also part of universities and, in this, our work is also to contribute to building a better future.

We do this with the agents of the future, our students.

Carla Cipolla

DESIS Network (International Coordination)

University of Brazil (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro

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 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.

design education

design for social innovation

economic globalization

local development