In the last decades we have been witnessing a growing wave of
social innovation. A multiplicity of institutions, enterprises,
non-profit organisations, but also and most of all, individual citizens
and their associations have been capable to move outside the mainstream
models of living and producing and to invent new and sustainable ones.
Social innovation is driven by diffuse creativity and
entrepreneurship. That is, by resources that, in a densely populated
and highly connected world, are very abundant (if only they are
recognized and valorised). In the next future, social innovation has
high potentialities to become a major driver of change. But something
has to be done to help the process.
Social innovation cannot be planned, but it can be made more
probable creating favourable environments and empowering creative
people. Creative people can be empowered by specifically conceived sets
of products, services and communication artefacts, i.e by conceiving
and developing enabling solutions, and in particular, enabling digital
The presentation articulates the previous statements and introduces
the discussion on what interaction design can do to catalyse diffuse
creativity for sustainable changes.
Professor of Design at the Politecnico di Milano, Honorary Doctor at
The New School of New York (2006) and at the Goldsmiths College of
London (2008) and honorary professor at the Glasgow School of Art
Presently, his main interests are towards design for social
innovation and, in particular, towards the promotion of DESIS, an
international network on Design for Social Innovation and
Sustainability (http://www.desis-network.org ). Recent publications:
Collaborative services. Social innovation and design for sustainability
(Polidesign. Milano, 2008) and Service Design in the Age of Networks
and Sustainability (in: Miettinen, S., Koivisto, M., ed., Designing
Services, University of Arts and Design, Helsinki, 2009).