Reframing the Paradox: Evidence-based Design and Design for the Public Sector















Public design and social innovation: Learning from applied research

Caroline gagnon, VALÉRIE CÔTÉ

Université Laval, Canada
Université de Montréal, Canada

Keywords: social innovation; public design; landscape studies; design research


The design approach is increasingly adopted as a creative process to create innovation in organization. The process is based on the holistic way designers apprehend problems. Even though the design approach is sensitive to human experiences, its contribution in generating innovation is uncertain. In the light of a literature review on how design for social innovation should be conducted, we propose to revisit research projects in public and social contexts undertaken by the authors in the last ten years. This paper hopes to shed light on what is recommended in literature and on what really happens in the practice of public design projects. Over the years, the authors produced a considerable amount of design research centered on the implantation of public infrastructures in urban and regional landscapes. Sometimes, these research projects caused challenges for the nearby populations as well as for the general public in terms of social acceptability issues. This paper proposes a first critical observation of Quebec’s public design research contexts through the analysis of three types of design research projects: a thesis, an applied research on public infrastructures for a public organization and an academic research financed by public funds on public infrastructures.

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Cite this paper: Gagnon, C. & Côté, V. (2016). Public design and social innovation: Learning from applied research. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

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