Design may contribute to democracy by offering its creative and inclusive process: design thinking. This is the building up of ideas and inspirational approaches, evocativeness, experimentation, ambiguity and surprise that can bring different perspectives to co-creative and decision-making processes to which it is possible to enlist holistic/systemic thinking and action competence to promote connections among different people, ideas, intentions, aspirations and place. Democracy, as well as co-creative processes, are relational domains where people can engage with significant others and endeavouring projects through which one can possibly imagine and craft different social arrangements.

To participate in democratic processes may also question the locus of design activity. It can promote a shift from the idea of the act of designing and producing to someone else, by designing and producing with someone else. In this case, the locus of design activity moves from an expert-driven mindset to a co-creative one, and also, put the designer in the situation of the proponent of certain agendas.

Additionally, it may challenge design educational domains by questioning the excessive materialistic aspects and placing emphasis on the creative processes, on designer’s social role and the background and holistic worldviews to be nurtured when dealing with the ecological issues of this century.

Denis Hickel

Independent Researcher at Quinta do Alecrim

Torres Novas, Portugal

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 increases the opportunities for citizens to participate in deliberative processes. It focuses on transparency (which enables citizens to be aware of the on-going process of governance) and deliberative methods (which is the opportunity to be better involved in decision making processes).
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 activism

Ecological design Thinking