Miaoxia community guesthouse carpentry work.
Activating Design Social






Anti-Social, Kitchen, China, Miaoxia


Does the social turn in design enable transformative change in design and society? Or is it incremental change, where design confirms existing social systems with little impact? Many claims for design social have been made, often underpinned by the altruism of doing good and social engagement. The recent popularity of social design, design activism, service design, co-design, and commoning, show design as conjoined to other disciplines, but to what end? What role does design play within dialogical pairings? Does the socialising of design diffuse the agency of design to the social sciences? As we interrogate and define, conceptually and in praxis, the hybridisation of two different domains, there is a need to critically engage the question of how to define ways in which design social can become an impactful, rather simply than a consensual, confirmation. In addition this enquiry is to seek out how design social can lead to transformative moments within design practice that impacts design methodologies, social structures and its agencies.

How to Cite

Hasdell, P. (2018). Activating Design Social. Cubic Journal, 1(1), 152–171. https://doi.org/10.31182/cubic.2018.1.009



Author Biography

Peter Hasdell, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Peter Hasdell is an architect and academic who graduated from the AA and University of Sydney. He has taught and practised in more than six countries including Australia, the UK, Sweden, Canada, China and Japan and has taught in the Bartlett School London, University of East London, Columbia University NY, KTH Stockholm, Berlage Institute Rotterdam, HKU, Manitoba and other schools. Associate Dean, Associate Professor, Discipline Leader for E+I, Director of the Design Social research initiative and year 4 Capstone Coordinator. With more than 20 years of teaching, he has expertise in the fields of architecture, urbanism, participatory design, public art practices, interactive arts, environmental design and social design. His most recent publication is titled Border ecologies: Hong Kong’s mainland frontier (Birkhauser, 2017).


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