PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH WITH REFUGEES – CAN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN ENGINEERS IMPLICITLY COPE WITH SOCIAL DESIGN PROBLEMS?
Editor: Berg, Arild; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon; Gulden, Tore; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Pavel, Nenad
Author: Bobbe, Tina; Wölfel, Christian; Krzywinski, Jens
Institution: Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Section: Design Education for the General Public
In a rapidly and radically changing world, there are more and new complex problems, technical but also social and societal ones. Due to that change, the understanding of design has developed and design education should adapt to this new role. This paper examines design for social contexts as a project in an industrial design engineering program. Does the provided design education enable the students for coping with rather different design problems? The focus will be on a graduation thesis about the local refugee crisis in Germany 2015/16 as a case study. The project aimed to identify and address needs and problems faced by refugees in reception centres by improving their living conditions through a design. In the case study, the undergraduate student chose a participatory research approach. Generative methods, like Day-in-a-Life, Collage and Lego Serious Play were used to make tacit knowledge from refugees explicit. The data analysis showed that absent occupation is the main problem in reception centres. Furniture concepts for the centres were generated, which refugees can build by themselves. Furthermore, a mobile kitchen prototype and a language independent instruction were developed. Provided with literature, it was possible for the student to adapt and implement new methods and toolkits, as well as conducting the workshops to design for social contexts. Still, during the design phase, the student stayed in the product design discipline. This leads to the conclusion, that future student projects in the area of social contexts should be incorporated in the industrial design engineering program only if product solutions are required or reasonable. Further, applying participatory research approaches for the development of products for professional contexts should be investigated.