The SDG-lab

The value of Design. Visualised.

Future Earth, the University of Tokyo and the Stockholm Resilience Centre have launched a call for Sustainable Development Goal Labs (SDG Labs) in advance of the Resilience 2017 conference and International Conference on Sustainability Science. The goal is looking for brilliant ideas with potential to make major breakthroughs on the SDGs.

Of the 331 lab proposals 21 have been selected as winning entries: 10 proposals will require fundings, 11 proposals will not require any additional funding.

IndoDesignLab’s proposal, ‘The value of Design. Visualised.’ has been selected among the 11.

The problem we will try to solve

More than 30 years ago, Charles Eames, the American multidisciplinary designer, was asked, ‘What are the boundaries of design?’. He replied, ‘What are the boundaries of problems?’. The boundaries of the problems humanity is facing today are entangled and complex and the SDGs remind us that they are interconnected and rooted in the choices we make in our everyday lives: how we eat, how we consume energy, or form relationships.

Designers can contribute to making the problems more serious or to making the solutions more transformative. Good design leads to systemic transformations, but the process behind it can be invisible. Dan Hill, Associate Director at Arup, has drawn comparisons between design and dark matter. He argues that “without addressing [the] dark matter [of design], and without attempting to reshape it, we are simply producing interventions or installations or popups that attempt to skirt around the system.”

The lab will be a multi-stakeholder meeting involving service designers, information designers, researchers, scientists, businesses with the goal of creating a visual output that makes ‘the dark matter of design’ — the design process — more tangible, so that its nature becomes more understandable, replicable and transferable across different sectors and disciplines.

The long-term goal will be to use the output of the lab as the beginning of a project whose aim could be creating a cross-sector dialogue on the value of design for the achievement of the SDGs.


InfoDesignLab, organizer

AHO, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design

DOGA, Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture

HALOGEN, Service Design agency

SoCentral, Nordic Incubator for Social Innovation

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