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Social Design Practices

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

This research project aimed to question, problematise and study the relationship between design and its social context. It starts from an ambivalent research attitude towards the solutionism that lies at the basis of many design practices: a view in which designers approach the world from the basic principle of problem-solving. Through a rigid, one-sided application of this paradigm, solutions are often designed for problems we did not know existed. 

Research question

Under which conditions can social design practices make a meaningful contribution to addressing social issues? 

More specifically, this research project aimed to gain insights into claims about the societal influence of social design practices, and their actual impact on the world around us. This research took place through literature research and the organisation of several workshops for Avans design students (and tutors). 

In 2019, Caradt researcher Laurens Kolks gave the workshop Publishing in Public Space to students of the Graphic | Spatial Design at St. Joost School of Art & Design. The workshop resulted in a language-based exhibition in a vacant space in Breda CS Station. 

Completed project, 2018 – 2019. 

Principle investigator
Laurens Kolks

Other researchers involved
Barbara Asselbergs
Michel van Dartel (professor Situated Art and Design) 

Sebastian Olma

Avans University of Applied Sciences
Erasmus Universiteit, TU Delft (PhD) 


Laurens is currently working on his PhD project at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, under the title Disclosing complexity: The articulation of public issues through design. 

‘Well beyond their common characterisation as problem-solvers, designers have a role to play in materialising public engagement with collective concern’

Laurens Kolks was a researcher at the Cultural and Creative Industries research group from 2018 until 2019 and is currently a tutor at St. Joost School of Art & Design.

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Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

The research group Cultural and Creative Industries investigates the role of artists and designers as creative innovators and drivers of social and economic change. Affiliated researchers analyse the cultural and creative industries from a critical point of view and examine the conditions under which timely forms of aesthetic expression and social connectedness can actually take place within the precarious reality of this field. What economic models are required by artists and designers to create a meaningful practice within the aesthetic, social, and economic intentions of the cultural and creative industries? What skills sets are required for those artists and designers who don’t just want to follow movements, but actually shape novel social and economic models of the future?

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