Social Design Examples

From Beyond Social

  • Bruno Setola
  • Teana Boston-Mammah
  • Karlijn Souren
  • Gaspardbos
  • Iris Schutten
  • Fotografie tafel.jpg
    Pooling People Table by Elise van Beurden

    Each editorial is a collection of different articles, carefully selected to emphasize a certain issue, topic or theme. More about editorials or explore the selected articles of this editorial.


    Social Design is not a discipline. Social design can be found within and between disciplines, design related or not. In this editorial we gather inspirational examples of good social design. This way we hope to show the variety and possibilities of social design, add to discussions about social design and last but not least ... inspire! Do you have good examples of social design, don't hesitate to upload!

    Selected articles

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    Photo by Nikolett Kustos, 2014

    2 November 2018 13:00:23 by Manetta

    In the summer of 2011 a group of dedicated students and young professionals from MOME EcoLab, the sustainability research group of Moholy Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest in Hungary, travelled to the remote Bodva valley, one of the poorest regions of Europe, to meet and help local Roma communities living in extreme poverty. The aim of the visit was to start a long-term social design project which would have relevant impacts. After four years of multiple failures, dozens of dead-ends and lots of work, the group is just about ready to understand "how to make it work"

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    Replay Health

    27 November 2017 14:24:41 by Manetta

    A game that really helps players (professionals) conceptualize how new health initiatives might affect them and their respective communities on a systemic level: 'RePlay Health shows us that games as embodied experiences allow perspective taking, fictional engagement, and roleplaying, and these unconventional communication modes can significantly impact thinking on public health.'

    The game

    31 October 2018 13:20:07 by Rümeysa Önal

    The Sky Is The Limit is a board game that should make South African children conscious of their future prospects and the negative impact that gangs can have on these.

    The lab set-up shows the process from sink to soap.

    21 November 2017 15:20:03 by Iris Schutten

    WdKA Student project: What can still be done in a household when it comes to reuse? A new use for every inch of trash can be found on the internet, so Anniek van Mierlo wanted to challenge herself to find a piece of home that was still unexplored. She searched for places that weren't likely to be used for reuse and found one place in the form of a very filthy drain...

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    Annelys de Vet

    25 October 2018 22:29:53 by Rümeysa Önal

    Annelys de Vet has set up the project 'Disarming Design from Palestine'. This is an inclusive design label that presents functional products from Palestine, which provide an alternative narrative to what you might usually find in the high street. The goods are developed, designed and produced by contemporary designers, artists and students in Palestine and abroad in collaboration with local artisans and producers.

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    The Collaboration Coat

    6 April 2018 10:22:36 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: When I started studying fashion at WdKA, six years ago, it took some time to settle in a practice-oriented curriculum, since what I had expected on entering was to graduate one day with a collection of eight outfits presented in a ‘classic’ fashion show. But because times had changed, WdKA had changed too. So I changed as well, and over these past six years I started to critically question the fashion system we still are familiar with today.

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    Future Flex Facilitator's Handbook

    6 April 2018 10:22:42 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: Future Flex is a series of playful workshops that propose an alternative to the “Future Proof” mentality. The Future Flex experience is designed to engage organizations in an internal transition from a fear-based to a play-based way of approaching the uncertain future.

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    Persepolis film poster

    30 October 2018 16:47:28 by Rümeysa Önal

    Persepolis is the visual autobiography of Marjane Satrapi, the writer and director of both the graphic novel and animated film. Persepolis tells Marjane’s story of growing up during the Iranian revolution and the start of war.

    Gewoon Delfshaven

    28 October 2018 19:34:23 by Rümeysa Önal

    WdKA Student project: The concept of communal is in crisis. We believe it's because collectivity it isn’t an obvious given cultural factor anymore. Rotterdam will need creative entrepreneurs to constantly visualize the communal and inclusivity as our society no longer knows what this means. We live in a society that still sees a lot of individualism. Inclusive development of a society consists of ensuring that all marginalized and excluded groups are stakeholders in development processes. Which means that there is need of collaboration before we can even speak of the concept inclusive development. We, as creative entrepreneurs, can become an (in)visible bridges between individuals and stakeholders, stakeholders and marginalized and excluded groups. Bridges looking for new connections between art and society where co-creation and social- extracurricular issues are at the center of the solutions.

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    Mother Earth Network Projection on plants

    6 April 2018 10:22:15 by Manetta

    WdKA Student Project: As a sustainable mindset designer I strongly believe that we have to break our old cultural mindsets down in order to live sustainably.

    In our current cultural mindset we are placing our self-made systems above the ecosystem. We are no longer listening to what mother earth is telling us. This project can be the first step for us, to create a culture in which the ecosystem is the most important system. This could be possible if we would translate the needs of the ecosystem into our own language. Resulting in the situation where everything we will create from now on, will be submissive to mother earth.


    30 October 2018 20:01:42 by Rümeysa Önal

    Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The work attempts to address gender based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces.

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    Impression of in-game experience

    6 April 2018 10:21:56 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: Many Facebook users regularly get frustrated with annoying posts on Facebook. Usually there is nothing you can do about it. You inevitably become friends with people on Facebook who will regularly post things that you make you feel agitated. In the virtual reality game Facebook Therapy VR, it is possible to deal with your frustrations physically.

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    6 December 2017 15:22:25 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: When it comes to cultural diversity in Rotterdam, the neighbourhood called 'Oude Noorden' (Old North) seems the place to be. Migration, integration and multiculturalism come together in this vibrant part of the city, sometimes causing friction but also leading to wonderful collaborations and events. An example is the local community centre 'De Mozaïek'. Twice a week, in Resto VanHarte, people can enjoy a meal that is just as diverse as the neighbourhood's population. However, we found it striking that the majority of visitors is typically Dutch, quite in contrast with the kitchen team that seems to represent integration. We were wondering how a meal prepared by such a multicultural team could be consumed by what appeared to us to be a very non-multicultural (and possibly even anti-multicultural) group?

    De Ceuvel

    25 October 2018 09:49:25 by Rümeysa Önal

    Near the Van Hasselt canal and the IJ in Amsterdam-Noord, a former ship wharf now hosts a very special association of creative and social entrepreneurs called De Ceuvel. De Ceuvel is run by a group of architects, landscape architects, artists, photographers, designers, etc. who have an amazing approach that combines sustainability and social motives, stimulates the local economy (keeping transportation costs low) and proves to be a laboratory for (alternative) cultural, social and economic development in an autarkic and 'Do-It-Yourself' manner.


    25 October 2018 10:12:41 by Rümeysa Önal

    Six years ago Renate Boere worried about the populist style of communication of certain politicians. By making clever use of the 'voice of the people' these political leaders were able to gain a great deal of support in a short period of time. Renate Boere asked herself, 'can I, as a designer, do something about this?'

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    6 December 2017 15:21:33 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: Yvonne Swiers is a fashion designer (WdKA, minor Open Design) and interested in sharing knowledge about knitwear. Therefore she initiated a project focusing on sharing knitting knowledge. This led to the following question: Which ways of sharing are possible using various knitting techniques, and how do these ways of sharing make it possible for other people to participate?


    6 April 2018 10:22:30 by Manetta

    WdKA Student Project: I started this project because I feel this the subject of indoctrination is of utmost relevance in our day and age. We always talk about the outcome of indoctrination, with mass media focusing on the latest terrorist attacks or airing TV shows like “My life in a cult”. We hardly talk about the process itself. There is never just one 'red flag' moment, there are however a lot of little 'pink' ones that together can make a real impact on a child's future decisions.

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    Spread from Pig 05049

    28 November 2017 09:42:55 by Iris Schutten

    Article on Meindertsma's work of disclosing the origin of pig meat to the public. It suggests on how Open Design can add to its development and impact.


    6 December 2017 15:20:53 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: Many women are dissatisfied with their weight and focus their attention on the aspects of their body they are unhappy with. Sophie Bragt decided developped a positive book for women; a book in which words such as 'lose weight', 'calories' and 'scale' are not used, but which focuses instead on what is necessary to make yourself feel healthy, fit and confident.

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    Hi Honey Platform

    28 October 2018 20:22:56 by Rümeysa Önal

    WdKA Studentproject: Hi honey is a revolutionary next step in beekeeping. The way we consume honey is completely unsustainable. With Hi Honey we can change the system.

    Living Light

    6 December 2017 15:10:29 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: Why should we still use polluting energy sources, if there is a renewable source that also cleans up pollution?


    29 October 2018 14:46:21 by Rümeysa Önal

    WdKA Studentproject: 'De Noorderboulevard' is a visual research of a culturally diverse street. When looking at a typical urban shopping street, often located in middle-to-lower income areas, one finds many shops representing a completely different aspect of graphic design.

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    Pooling People Table by Elise van Beurden

    2 November 2018 13:01:12 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: How can open design play a role in enhancing social contact?

    Houses - by Lou muuse

    2 November 2018 13:01:05 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: We all know there are asylum seekers living in our country. But where exactly do they live?

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    Winners from the first Heijplaat Jeu de Boules Tournament. photo by: Job Taks

    2 November 2018 13:00:55 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: The RDM (Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij) is a former shipbuilding wharf located in a remote area in the harbour of Rotterdam. Due to the isolated location, the company built the village of Heijplaat in 1914 to provide housing for its employees. Since the 1990s however the area has undergone a series of important transformations, many of which have had a negative impact on the local population. My project 'Samenspel' focused on this specific location, and also on the question: how to reshape the connection between the RDM wharf and the village? Can I design (the implementation of) a new function for the RDM that attracts the local population?

    The card deck

    30 October 2018 20:24:26 by Rümeysa Önal

    WdKA Studentproject: The news is omnipresent in our daily lives. We consume it from early morning until evening, in all kinds of ways, through TV, newspapers, internet, telephones and radio. It determines what we talk about and how we view the world. Still, most people are not aware of the fact that the news isn’t a representation of the truth. With The Frame Game, Lotte Biesheuvel stimulates awareness among news consumers aged 18 to 45 age regarding framing in new media?

    Aron Dijkstra drawing in the Kitchen of Het Verhalenhuis

    30 October 2018 20:29:50 by Rümeysa Önal

    WdKA Studentproject: With the development of modern technologies such as mobile phones and social media, many people in the early 21st century have argued that 'storytelling is dead' in Western society. The project 'The New Rotterdam Folk Story' attempts to do so with an online collection of stories celebrating the cultural diversity of the city of Rotterdam.

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    Wheelshare Expo

    6 December 2017 15:16:12 by Manetta

    WdKA Studentproject: There are currently 2.3 million people with disabilities living in the Netherlands. Ten years after the 2006 United Nations convention on the rights of disabled people, little has changed in the Netherlands; we have actually become one of the most inaccessible countries in Europe. The project Wheelshare is based on the fact that wheelchair users feel visible for the wrong reasons, but that they also know better than anyone else which places are the most inaccessible. Wheelshare faciliates them to raise awareness on this issue.

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    25 October 2018 22:01:59 by Rümeysa Önal

    Most existing research in oncology focuses on methods of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Few research projects so far have concentrated on supportive cancer care for children. This is why we have conducted a 'research through design' project to design, implement and evaluate interventions that stimulate adequate eating and exercising behaviour among children with cancer and their families. Our project is entitled POKO, a three-year funded project (September 2013 – December 2016).

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    29 October 2018 15:52:58 by Rümeysa Önal

    ONSbank is a unique type of cooperative bank which helps young people clear their debts and get their lives on a positive financial track. It's a combination of an alternative business model and an activation programme in which confession, reflection and action help change the behaviour and mentality that led to the creation of the debt in the first place. To become a client of this bank you first have to successfully complete a compulsory programme and find new work together with an artist.


    23 November 2017 18:39:20 by Iris Schutten

    WdKA Student project: Inspired by the open online collection of the Rijksmuseum, being a product designer, the old measuring instruments attracted the attention of Elise van Beurden. The standard metre represents the transition to the metric system as a tool. Before that, body parts were used as measurements for trading and differed per city. Van Beurden researched how personal measurements could be used again for design.

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    Rijksstudio Breeding Show

    6 December 2017 15:13:51 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: What if anyone could use, re-use, remix and share images of the Dutch Masters?

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    This is my border, this is my space

    2 November 2018 13:00:46 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: Consider how many doors you have to pass through from the street to your bedroom. Every door is an opening to a different space; it's one step closer to your most private area: your bed.

    The design of the app

    2 November 2018 13:00:39 by Manetta

    WdKA Student project: At the moment Thuiszorg Rotterdam (Homecare Rotterdam) is facing the problem of their clients refusing home care. This leads to situations where people are being moved into nursing homes, even though they are physically and mentally able to live independently.


    23 October 2018 17:32:12 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) lifestyle design

    Since 1990, mandatory nutrition fact labeling on packaged food products in the U.S. has made it easier for consumers to shop for foods based on dietary restrictions and nutritional requirements. But just because a food bears a healthy nutrition label doesn't mean it was ethically or sustainably produced.


    6 January 2018 20:44:03 by Gaspardbos

    sustainable (new earth) fashion design

    Over the past few years, clothing has been treated more and more like a disposable product. The production of clothing is aimed for increasing numbers and production to decrease prices. Low prices seem attractive, but what does this way of producing mean for the future of the environment and the people that work in this industry? The Post-Couture Collective offers an alternative to today’s fashion system. It introduces a new era in the production of sustainable and affordable clothing. In our vision clothing is designed on the principles of open-source, and is made using 21st century technology. It is the first fashion label that truly embraces the Maker Movement and the Third Industrial Revolution.


    1 November 2018 18:33:48 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) audiovisual design

    “A labourer over the course of an 8-hour day can sustain an average output of about 75 watts.” (Marks’ Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers.)


    31 October 2018 14:33:17 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) animation

    The Story of Stuff is a short animated documentary about the lifecycle of material goods. The documentary is critical of excessive consumerism and promotes sustainability.

    Filmmaker Annie Leonard wrote and narrated the film, which was funded by Tides Foundation, Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Production and Consumption, Free Range Studios and other foundations.


    29 October 2018 13:57:00 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) fine art

    For over two decades artist Martin Hill has traveled to remote locations in order to create these fantastic natural sculptures. The environmental artist and photographer often works with his partner Philippa Jones to form the artworks from stones, ice, and organic materials. The duo have a stunning portfolio of work that focuses on circular forms that represent natural cycles present in the environment.


    31 October 2018 14:25:24 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) graphic design

    Applying circular economy principles to global plastic packaging flows could transform the plastics economy and drastically reduce negative externalities such as leakage into oceans.


    6 January 2018 20:10:07 by Gaspardbos

    sustainable (new earth) illustration

    The legendary alternative political comic strip Sidewalk Bubblegum. Started in 1993 and retired in 2001, Clay Butler’s self-syndicated weekly political cartoon, Sidewalk Bubblegum, has been seen in hundreds of magazines, books, and zines including Z Magazine, Playboy, Funny Times, Comic Relief, Creative Loafing, Metro Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel and Finland’s largest Swedish-language daily newspaper, the HUFVUDSTADSBLADET.


    30 October 2018 17:59:45 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) leisure management

    Well cared for locals let you get closer to their culture, their people & their nature.


    24 October 2018 15:46:42 by Rümeysa Önal

    Sustainable (new earth) photography

    Christian Åslund is an award winning Swedish photographer, based in Stockholm. Christian has a background as a photojournalist working for newspapers, magazines and NGO's, documenting armed conflicts, environmental and social issues. He also shoots commercial and editorial photography, capturing life’s moments with a twist. In 2013 Christian was awarded first place in the Campaign category of the Sony World Photography Awards.


    31 October 2018 15:32:58 by Rümeysa Önal

    sustainable (new earth) product design

    WOOF&WOW is a project in which we want to include Peru’s marginalized weaving talent in the production of sustainable furniture products made from wasted PET bottles, in other words by ‘Combining Local Talent with Local Waste‘. With our team, supporters and project partners we have developed the design of a stool and created a production proces for the PET fabric that is easy to implement in Peru’s weaving communities.


    23 October 2018 19:41:49 by Rümeysa Önal

    Sustainable (new earth) spatial design

    Bambú Social shares knowledge and expertise about natural local resources as an alternative to conventional construction methods. Because bamboo can be social.

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    28 October 2018 19:42:19 by Rümeysa Önal

    Sustainable (new earth) advertising

    Green Graffiti is a form of advertisement where something is removed, like dirt on walls, to reveal a negative (whitespace) image. It uses for example water to clean the surface but uses no other resources than the existing wall. It can therefore be argued that by not using more materials than conventional advertisements on billboards and screens and such, this is a more environmentally friendly form of advertising.


    6 March 2018 12:23:13 by Teana Boston-Mammah

    Egyption artist Sherfi Adel created an online comic magazine Barbatoze Comics. Barbatoze Comics includes satirical pieces on the Egyptian community and political scene, yet its main goal remains simply to brighten up the day for Egyptians.

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    Graft and Ash for a Three Monitor Workstation

    30 October 2018 19:45:57 by Rümeysa Önal

    Sondra Perry explores the intersection of black identity, digital culture and power structures through video, media, installation and performance.

    Illustration by Emory Douglas

    27 October 2018 18:27:09 by Rümeysa Önal

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    Image courtesy: Smithsonian Institute

    27 October 2018 19:15:01 by Rümeysa Önal


    6 March 2018 12:20:32 by Manetta

    Illustration by Alexandra Bowman

    23 October 2018 18:55:21 by Rümeysa Önal


    6 March 2018 12:41:28 by Teana Boston-Mammah

    A project focused on exhibiting the contributions of women in graphic design and exploring issues of gender-equality in education provided by design institutions.

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    Installation made by Marieke Widlak, photo: Ella Gerritsen

    2 November 2018 12:59:46 by Manetta

    About an installation presenting personal stories of “the new Dutchmen” who experience a lot of tensions related to culture differences.


    6 March 2018 12:29:15 by Manetta

    Mayor of Delfshaven

    2 November 2018 13:01:41 by Manetta

    Mayor of Delfshaven is a documentary about Ladan, a woman from Iran. For the past 23 year she has run a special hair salon in Rotterdam West. With this documentary, we want to impress on the viewer the importance of her place, but also the importance of the social contact. The documentary comes with a photo-reportage about her work and the people in the salon.

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    Prototype Say What!?

    2 November 2018 13:01:20 by Manetta

    88% of the self made sexual photos or videos will be forwarded and end up being exposed on various websites, with disastrous consequences. Especially this affects teenagers, causing them to struggle with guilt and shame. Revelations of this sort cause psychological damage and ensure that young people won’t talk openly about this. The game 'Say What?!" empowers youth concerning sexting.

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    The bird view of

    2 November 2018 13:01:47 by Manetta

    What would you say if you have six more minutes with your lost love ones?

    A moving Virtual Reality experience by Arif Abdillah.

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