Design for Dynamic Challenges: Key Attributes of Designers for Leading Interdisciplinary Research and Projects Why designers are best equipped to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges

Main Article Content

Jak Spencer

Abstract

The world seems more burdened with large-scale global problems than ever before. One such challenge is to reverse the growing incidence of mental health issues, particularly in our cities. Traditional approaches to tackling such major global challenges has come from specific sectors and siloed organizations. These ‘matters of concern’ however are interdisciplinary in nature, and map closely to what those in the design world have attempted to frame as ‘wicked problems’. This article explores the value of design thinking and focuses on five key attributes that designers have in leading projects that attempt to tackle these major global matters of concern. Namely, that designers are: Naturally interdisciplinary, multi-specialists, comfortable with uncertainty, action-led, and people-centered. A case study is explored where designers have been engaged to tackle mental health issues in Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The paper ends by identifying opportunities and challenges for designers in the future.

Article Details

How to Cite
Spencer, J. (2018). Design for Dynamic Challenges: Key Attributes of Designers for Leading Interdisciplinary Research and Projects: Why designers are best equipped to tackle some of the most pressing global challenges. Diseña, (13), 84-109. https://doi.org/10.7764/disena.13.84-109
Section
Original articles
Author Biography

Jak Spencer, Royal College of Art

Industrial Designer, Loughborough University. PhD in Design for Behavior Change, Loughborough University. He is a Research Fellow and leader of the Social and Global Research Space at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art. His current research interests include using new technology to solve social challenges; understanding how design can create new models for community wellbeing; and people-centered development solutions for major global challenges. Some of his recent publications are: ‘ The Implications of Cultural Differences in Laundry Behaviours for Design for Sustainable Behaviour: A Case Study between the UK, India and Brazil’ (with D. Lilley & S. Porter, International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, Vol. 8, N° 3) and ‘ The Opportunities that Different Cultural Contexts Create for Sustainable Design: A Laundry Care Example’ (with D. Lilley & S. Porter, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 107).