Resident-friendly cities, decent housing for refugees, neighbourhood gardens, technical workshops for one and all, a loom for business start-ups, a solar kiosk, and a mobile sleeper car for the homeless: More and more people around the world are getting involved privately or professionally in such projects because they want to make a difference. The ideas come from all parts of society. Especially in times of upheaval, designers, architects, tradespeople, artists, and engineers have always played a vital role in the search for new ways to take greater responsibility in matters of design. People today are demonstrating their commitment to creating a better world by using design as a tool for sustainable social action. The design of urban spaces, buildings, and traffic routes, as well as products and processes, always reflects prevailing political and social conditions. Designers therefore play a key part in developing new social systems and living and working environments that take into account the broader global picture. In the exhibition Social Design, the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) focused on this area of activity for designers and presented potential solutions, projects that are already running successfully, and creative processes from the field of Social Design. On view were twenty-five international projects and a series of selected local projects in the areas of urban space and landscape, housing/ education/ work, production, migration, networks, and the environment.
Social Design relies on transparent design processes involving a multitude of agents. Even before changes become visible in the social space, the Social Design process has already commenced with exchanges between stakeholders as equal partners and the joint development of ideas and solution strategies. An essential goal of this co-creation approach is to get people actively involved in the project and empower them to act as self-directed agents so they can carry on the design activities independently. In this process, the designers see themselves as partners who put their knowledge at the disposal of the participants while keeping watch over the design qualities and sustainability of the project.
MKG, an institution for which design issues are fundamental, reached out for the first time into civil society to set its own Social Design impulses within the framework of the exhibition. For this purpose, the museum had initiated the temporary neighbourhood project ARGE unmittelbare Nachbarschaft (Working Group for the Immediate Neighbourhood), whose ongoing work has been illustrated in the exhibition. Another exhibition module showed selected Social Design initiatives in Hamburg on an online city map. Visitors to the exhibition have had the opportunity to propose further projects to add to the map.