The Design Society Development (DSD) DESIS Lab is a multi-disciplinary community of practice, based at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, that seeks to better understand how design can best serve the emerging needs of broader society, specifically in the face of staggering inequality and rapid change in Gauteng, South Africa. Our lab is currently focused on challenging the ethnocentric view of the world brought about through modernization, and hence plays particular interest to our local context, cultural diversity and local needs. As designers we undertake design research projects through participatory, and preferably multi-stakeholder, human-centred methodologies in order to bring about appropriately considered change. The DSD DESIS Lab includes participants from design, the social sciences, economics and art. Activities undertaken within the auspices of the lab include practice, research activities and information dissemination.
The DESIS Network is an international network of 48 design labs, based in design schools and design-oriented universities, actively involved in promoting and supporting sustainable change. The DESIS association was formed between the Policenico di Milano (Italy), The New School (USA), University of Arts London (UK), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Jiangnan University (China), and Tongji University (China) in June 2014 and the DSD DESIS Lab was accepted as the fourth lab based in Africa shortly thereafter. The DSD DESIS Lab is also a promoter of the international DESIS Food Cluster together with Polimi DESIS Lab, Milan and Strategic Design Senarios (SDS), Brussels.
The DSD DESIS Lab meets monthly to interrogate research, projects, methods and products that impact on the intersection and interplay between design, society and development in our specific context. We understand design as referring to the conscious choices we make in creating systems (community, society & productive systems) and technologies (products, artefacts, communicative technologies, systems integration); society as the human context that includes the broader social systems of culture, economy, politics and environment; and development as the discourse and practice of positive and considered change. We draw on critical political economy, social sciences, appropriate technology development, participatory and human-centered design, and other design approaches in our practice and research.
The following questions underpin the DSD DESIS Lab:
The key differentiator in this initiative is the focus on a human-centered approach to design, development and creative production.
Primary Research Areas & Activities
The DSD DESIS Lab is an official lab of the Design of Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) Network
The DSD DESIS Lab is hosted by the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The DSD DESIS lab is a co-coordinator of the DESIS Food Cluster
The DSD DESIS Lab is a contributor to the Informal, Formal & Collaborative (IFC) DESIS Cluster
Design Society Development DESIS Lab Project Partners:
The University of Johannesburg: Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Departments of Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Multimedia, Graphic Design, Visual Art, Interior Design and Architecture; Faculty of Humanities, Department of Anthropology & Development Studies; Faculty of Economic and Financial Service, Department of Economics and Econometrics; and the Faculty of Engineering, Manufacturing Research Centre.
Tshwane University of Technology, Industrial Design Programme, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment
The Wits Siyakhana Initiative for Ecological Health and Food Security
The City of Johannesburg’s Department of Social Development: Food Resilience Directorate
Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
1to1 – Agency for Engagement
Slovo Park Community Development Forum
Tshulu Trust, Limpopo
Terence lectures interaction design, information design and design research in FADA’ s Department of Multimedia. Much of his current research focus is on the role of information architecture inContinue Reading..
Angus Donald Campbell is the Head of the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and a Co-Founder of the Design Society Development DESIS Lab. He is a qualified Continue Reading..
Desiree currently heads the Department of Fashion Design at the University of Johannesburg and has been involved with design education for the past 25 years. Her current research interest is in Continue Reading..
Amira Omer Siddig Osman is an associate professor in architecture at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to that she worked as a Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Continue Reading..
His academic interests range from the South African Social Welfare System, to Agriculture and Sustainable Development, human rights and recently the relation between technology andContinue Reading..
Christa van Zyl teaches graphic design at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg. Her research interests include Human-centred design and design for social Continue Reading..
Martin has completed an MTech Degree in Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and has been a lecturer within the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture for 4 years in both part-Continue Reading..
Jhono Bennett obtained a Master’s degree in Architecture with design distinction from the University of Pretoria, South Africa (2011). He completed his undergraduate education in Architecture at Continue Reading..
Tuliza Sindi is a South African architect, in both practice and academia and an external examiner in several Universities around the country.
An Industrial Designer who completed his Masters in Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg and is now lecturing at the Department of Industrial Design, Tshwane University of Continue Reading..
Happy is currently doing his Masters of Design in Multimedia at the University of Johannesburg, under the supervision of Terence Fenn. His research is focused on co-designing the public Continue Reading..
Peters’ current interests include human centred design and participatory technology development for historically marginalised communities. He is currently studying towards a Masters’ degree in Continue Reading..
Jason has been practicing a combination of information architecture, UX, service design and design thinking since 1997. He worked for digital agencies in Cape Town and London before starting Continue Reading..
Ivan Leroy Brown is currently doing his Masters degree in Industrial Design, at the University of Johannesburg. His research is focused on developing sustainable socioeconomic opportunities inContinue Reading..
Tasmin is currently enrolled for a Masters of Design in Multimedia under the supervision of Terence Fenn. Her focus lies in bettering, through human-centered design approaches, the day-to-day Continue Reading..
Yael Gold is a 2nd year Masters of Design, Multimedia student. Her focus lies in Human-Computer Communication within the medical industry. In 2015, Yael spent 5 months in Holland on a Continue Reading..
Antonio is an international MTech: Industrial Design student at the Univesity of Johannesburg. His undergraduate industrial design education was at the University of Chile whichContinue Reading..
Talita Harmse is enrolled for a MA.Design in Fashion at the University of Johannesburg under the supervision of Dr Desiree Smal. Her current interests include slow fashion, systems thinking andContinue Reading..
Stuart Windram is anMTech student and tutor at the Department of Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg. Prior to studying Industrial Design, he spent a number of years working Continue Reading..
Malan, N., Campbell, A.D., Sibeko, J., van Zyl, C. & Benecke, R. 2015. Service Learning for Food Security: The Izindaba Zokudla Experience. The Fourth Conference of the South African Development Studies Association (2015): Development in Troubled Times. Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Oct 12.
Campbell, A.D. & Harrison, P.H. 2015. A Framework for Socio-Technical Innovation: The Case of a Human-Powered Shredder. In Collina, L., Galluzzo, L. & Meroni, A (Eds). Proceedings of the Cumulus Conference, Milano 2015: The Virtuous Circle: Design Culture and Experimentation. Milan: McGraw Hill. pp. 211-230. ISBN: 978883869405 (Peer Reviewed).
Malan, N. 2015. Design and Social Innovation for Systemic Change: Creating Social Capital for a Farmers’ Market. In Collina, L., Galluzzo, L. & Meroni, A (Eds). Proceedings of the Cumulus Conference, Milano 2015: The Virtuous Circle: Design Culture and Experimentation. Milan: McGraw Hill. ISBN: 978883869405 (Peer Reviewed).
Malan, N. & Campbell, A.D. 2014. Design, Social Change and Development: A Social Methodology. Design with the other 90%: Cumulus Johannesburg Conference Proceedings. Johannesburg: Cumulus Johannesburg. pp. 94-101. ISBN: 978-0-620-60373-7.
Osman, A., Bruyns, G., Aigbavboa, C., Campbell, A.D., Malan, N., Fenn, T. (Eds). Part 7: Design Society Development. In International Union of Architects World Congress: UIA 2014 Durban: Architecture Otherwhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values. pp. 1319-1474. Durban, South Africa: UIA 2014 Durban. ISBN: 978-0-86970-783-8
Osman, A. & Bennett, J. 2014. People And Projects: The Importance Of Catalysts In Teaching Community Architecture in South Africa. International Union of Architects World Congress: UIA 2014 Durban: Architecture Otherwhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values. pp. 1332-1343. Durban, South Africa: UIA 2014 Durban. ISBN: 978-0-86970-783-8
Brand, K.G. & Campbell, A.D. 2014. In-context and Ecology Immersion for Resilience: An Exploration of the Design of a Household Farming Kit. International Union of Architects World Congress: UIA 2014 Durban: Architecture Otherwhere: Resilience, Ecology, Values. pp. 1332-1343. Durban, South Africa: UIA 2014 Durban. ISBN: 978-0-86970-783-8
Bennett, J. & Osman, A. 2013. Critical Engagement in Informal Settlements: Lessons from the South African Experience. CIB World Building Congress 2013 Proceedings. Brisbane, Australia: International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction.
van Zyl, C. 2013. Supporting a Community through Design: Melville, Johannesburg. Proceedings of the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa: Encultured Design. pp. 271-286. Vaal Univesity of Technology, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa: DEFSA. ISBN No 978-1-77012-131-7
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2013. Applying User Journey Design to Resolve Complex Design Problems. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2013. Preparing Undergraduate Design Students for Complexity: A Case Study of the Johannesburg Art Gallery Project. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
Campbell, A.D. 2013. Designing for Development in Africa: A Critical Exploration of Literature and Case Studies from the Disciplines of Industrial Design and Development Studies. Proceedings of the Gaborone International Design Conference (GIDEC) 2013: Design Future: Creativity, Innovation and Development. Gaborone, Botswana: University of Botswana. ISBN: 978-99968-0-019-1
Hobbs, J. & Fenn, T. 2013. Navigating Indeterminacy Through the Application of User Journeys. In. Appiah, E (ed). Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Design, Development & Research. pp. 190-209. Kumasi, Ghana: College of Art & Social Sciences. ISBN: 978-9988-1-8513-8
Campbell, A.D. 2013, November. Participatory Technology Design for Urban Agriculture in South Africa. In Lyle, P., Choi, J. HJ., Lawson, S., Lueg, C., Chamberlain, A., Foth, M., Meroni, A., & Brereton, M (Eds). Proceedings of the Urban Agriculture: A Growing Field of Research: Workshop at INTERACT 2013 – 14th IFIP TC13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. pp. 8-16. Cape Town, South Africa: INTERACT 2013. ISBN: 978-0-620-58534-7
Bennett, J. & Breed, I. 2012. Architectural Design In Response to Vulnerable Networks. Sustainable Human(e) Settlements: The Urban Challenge Conference Proceedings. Johannesburg, South Africa: Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, University of Johannesburg. pp. 30-44. ISBN: 978-0-620-54069-8
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2012. The Information Architecture of Transdisciplinary Design Practice: Rethinking Nathan Shedroff’s Continuum of Understanding. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Design, Development & Research. pp. 1-15. Cape Town, South Africa: Design, Development & Research Conference. ISBN: 978-0-620-52128-4
Campbell, A.D. & Brand, K.G. 2012. Design of Resilient Products for Small-scale Farming in South Africa. Proceedings of the Agrindustrial Design: 2nd International Product and Service Design Congress and Exhibition on Agricultural Industries – Mediterranean/Food/Design. pp.278-286. Izmir, Turkey: Izmir University of Economics Press. ISBN: 978-975-8789-49-8
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2011. A Role of Information Architecture in Design Education: Conceptualising Indeterminate Problems in Design Thinking. Proceedings of the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa: 20/20 Vision. pp. 87-94. University of Johannesburg, South Africa: DEFSA. ISBN No 978-0-620-52112-3
Fenn, T. & Hobbs, J. 2011. A Role for Information Architecture in Design Education: Developing Innovation Through Structured Thinking. Proceedings of the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa: 20/20 Vision. pp. 95-101. University of Johanensburg, South Africa: DEFSA. ISBN No 978-0-620-52112-3
Campbell, A.D. (Forthcoming in 2017). Izindaba Zokudla (Conversations About Food): Innovation in the Soweto Food System. In, Abendroth, L.M. & Bell, B. (Eds.) Public Interest Design Education Guidebook: Curricula, Strategies, and SEED Academic Case Studies. London: Routledge.
Campbell, A.D. (Forthcoming in 2017). A Potential Difference Model for Educating Critical Citizen Designers: The Case Study of the Beegin Appropriate Beekeeping Technology System. In, Costandius, E. & Botes, H. (Eds.) Educating Citizen Designers in Southern Africa. Stellenbosch: SUNMeDIA.
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Campbell, A.D. 2015. Izindaba Zokudla: Design & Development of Appropriate Technology. Izindaba Zokudla Farmers’ School. Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg Soweto Campus, 16 May.
Campbell, A.D. 2015. A Framework for Socio-Technical Innovation. Lecture presented at the Design For and With Local Communities Project lecture series, University of Johannesburg. Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 April.
Campbell, A.D. & Harrison, P.H. 2015. Socio-technical Innovation: The Case of a Human-powered Shredder. Paper presented at the Design Society Development DESIS Lab Seminar, University of Johannesburg. Johannesburg, South Africa, 6 March.
Campbell, A.D. 2014. The Role of Design in Sustainable Social and Technological Innovation. Seminar presentation at the Design @ CUT Workshop, Central University of Technology. Bloemfontein, South Africa, 12 November.
Malan, N. & Campbell, A.D. 2013. Participatory Technology Design for Urban Agriculture in South Africa. Paper presented at the Development Studies Postgraduate Seminar Series, University of Johannesburg. Johannesburg, South Africa, 3 October.
Campbell, A.D., Oosthuizen, T., Ntombela, B., Tuttle, R. & Malan, N. 2012. The Role of Education, Government and Commerce in Design for Social Development. Public Seminar, University of Johannesburg: Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 July.
Campbell, A.D. & Brand, K.G. 2012. Design of Resilient Products for Small-scale Farming in South Africa. Paper presented at FADA Research Seminar Series, University of Johannesburg. Johannesburg, South Africa, 30 July.
Malan, N., Campbell, A.D., Fenn, T. & Brand, K.G. 2012. Design for Social Development. Paper presented at FADA Research Seminar Series, University of Johannesburg. Johannesburg, South Africa, 21 May.
2016. Department of Science and Technology, SA-India Grassroots Innovation Workshop. Innovation Hub, Pretoria, South Africa, 06 July (participated).
2015. Human Sciences Research Council, National Grassroots Innovation Seminar. Diep in die Berg, Pretoria, 10 December (participated).
2015. Brains Trust and Field Breakout Sessions. Echoing Green All Fellows Conference. Johannesburg, South Africa, 4 November (participated).
Meroni, A., Fassi, D., Litowtschenko, M.F., Jégou, F., & Gouache, C., Campbell, A.D. & Malan, N. 2015. Production, Distribution and Consumption – Food and Agriculture. DESIS Food Cluster: Design for Social Food. Cascina Cuccagna, Milano, Italy, 5 June (facilitated)
Day, M. 2013. Biocharger: The Design of a Safe and Efficient Biochar Production Unit for a Small Business Initiative in Johannesburg, Gauteng. University of Johannesburg: BTech Industrial Design Dissertation.
van der Merwe, C. 2012- 0ngoing. Sustainable Access to Food for the Urban Poor in Pretoria: A Study of Household Food Consumption in Mamelodi. University of Johannesburg: MA Development Studies Dissertation.
Moore, W. 2012. An Exploratory Ethnography of Urban Farming Practices in Noordgesig, Johannesburg: The Interplay between Food Security and Commercial Cultivation. University of Johannesburg: BA Hons Development Studies Dissertation.
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