• Fieldbacks - Social Design 

  • Be Sociable, Share:

    < Back to library

    Posted: 2 March 2021


    Transparency for social design

    Social Design projects often involve a mix of different professions, interests and backgrounds. Creatives enter unknown contexts where they meet and have to interact with communities, that have a certain culture and history. Fieldbacks is a series of events aimed to develop a social design sensibility before, in the meanwhile and after a social design intervention. What questions should we ask ourselves before starting such projects? How do we evaluate the impact? What is the role of the NGO ( and other actors ) in those interventions?

    It started in 2019 with an open call in collaboration with an NGO in Lesbos. A diverse team of artists and designers were asked to enter a refugee camp to hack present materials to stimulate different social interactions.On site, the communication wasn’t always well facilitated between artists, NGO, camp and residents. The team of artists was transparent about this. When they presented the experience in Lesbos during Dutch Design Week 2019, questions about when to interfere and how to prepare for such projects became the new focus. We decided to turn the Fieldhacks we did into Fieldbacks, a format where we focus on social design projects intervening in unknown context. Fieldbacks is giving feedback for past or ongoing case studies of field work in design, as well as preparing for upcoming projects.

    Together with an experienced team from the different fields of social design, art, education and technology, we plan frequent events around existing social design projects. The event participants are always involved in the chosen project. They can be for example a designer who worked in that context before, teachers and students, institutions who support and give direction to the project, workers, decision makers and people who are the direct recipient of the project. The enriching experience and the different perspectives enabled us to collect valuable questions, answers and methods in a short amount of time.

    Each session is documented and evaluated as the row of events are aiming to create a new approach to social design projects. How can social design projects be communicating productively and transparently without beautifying their image? Why should social design work on such projects and not other professions? How can social design actors work together to create better working circumstances for themselves? How can institutions initiate the right projects and facilitate the right network of involved parties?

    Besides the main goal, a Fieldbacks session might also result in micro collaborations with the partnering guests. Until now Fieldbacks sessions were held around the following case studies:

    Design Academy Eindhoven and Hivos
    “Can the Platform be the/a field?”

    Due to the corona pandemic travelling and even physical contact had to be stopped and reconsidered. A lot of work is being relocated to online platforms and virtual communication tools. Also social design projects had to rapidly adapt and started to reconsider their methods drastically. In reaction to this, Hivos and the DAE created an online platform to collaborate with creative and alternative schools on a global scale. Instead of travelling for short periods to unknown countries and getting to know local collaborators on site, people work now from their homes and are connected online. Right after the launch of the platform beta version the Fieldbacks event posed questions like: When is it important to meet face to face? When is it important to visit a place? When is it beneficial and appropriate to use a platform instead of seeing each other, considering the environmental impact of traveling? What kind of social design is needed for these sort of platforms? How would social design look like if performed remotely? Can we talk of tele-social design? How can we integrate this way of working in our usual practice?

    You can listen to the audio documentation of this session here

    Arvid and Marie artist in residence at Recreatie Reinaerde
    “The current covid 19 circumstances and designing in an institution for mental disabled people”

    Shortly before the artist duo Arvid and Marie started their residency at the Recreatie Reinaerde program, a program that uses design and art to improve care within an institute for mental disabled people, we held a preparational Fieldbacks event. The founders of the program and a former participating designer joined the working session. This time Fieldbacks was divided in two parts: one theoretical part, with the aim to have a dialogue about what one needs to know about the current situation in the institute and how design might fit and add up to it; a second part, with a series of on-site interventions by members of the Fieldbacks team. Based on the insights of both parts, Arvid and Marie proceeded with their own project during the residency and in this way, Fieldbacks can test the impact of their preparational events.

    Here you can listen to the audio documentation of this session and some visual impressions

    Fieldbacks is an initiative by Baltan Laboratories, ​social design studio Joes + Manon, artist duo Arvid and Marie, research director and founder of design studio Afdeling Buitengewone Zaken Jop Japenga, designer and musician Meis Suker, participation designer Leif Czakai and curator Lorenzo Gerbi.

    Take a look to the gallery here below!


    test lexicon


    Economia is the festival of

    < Back to library