Products and services can contribute to solving complex social problems such as crime or climate change. A new book, Designing for Society, provides a hands-on tool to professionals and students interested in using social design to make a difference in the world. It was written by Paul Hekkert and Nynke Tromp, two researchers from the TU Delft Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and active members of the Delft Design for Values Institute.

Media of Designing for SocietyOur globalised world is encountering problems on an unprecedented scale. Many of the issues we face as societies extend beyond the borders of our nations. Phenomena such as terrorism, climate change, immigration, cybercrime and poverty can no longer be understood without considering the complex socio-technical systems that support our way of living. It is widely acknowledged that to contend with any of the pressing issues of our time, we have to substantially adapt our lifestyles. To adequately counteract the problems of our time, we need interventions that help us actually adopt the behaviours that lead us toward a more sustainable and ethically just future.

In Designing for Society, which will be published later this month by Bloomsbury, Paul Hekkert and Nynke Tromp provide a hands-on tool for design professionals and students who wish to use design to counteract social issues. Viewing the artefact as a unique means of facilitating behavioural change to realise social impact, this book goes beyond the current trend of applying design thinking to enhancing public services, and beyond the idea of the designer as a facilitator of localised social change.

In nine chapters the following topics will be covered:

  1. Building a Viable Society
  2. Effect-driven Design
  3. A Clash of Concerns
  4. The Far-reaching Influence of the Artefact
  5. An Imperfect World
  6. Social Implication Design
  7. Mapping the Social Context
  8. Assessing Impact
  9. Social Design in Practice


“Everything that’s designed has effects on society, and how we live, and designers have a responsibility to understand this, and design with attention to the impacts their work can have, now and for future generations. In Designing for Society, Nynke Tromp and Paul Hekkert give us a thoughtful and well-informed set of ways of approaching this complex and wide-ranging subject, demonstrating the power of designing products, services, and systems with a focus on social value. “
* Dan Lockton, Chair of Design Studies at Carnegie Mellon University, USA *
“To the large numbers of students and professionals who want to do good’ and to make a difference in the world, this book offers a wealth of insights and guidelines. The ‘society-centred design practice’ outlined by the authors is both theoretically exciting and useful in practice.”
* Erik Stolterman Bergqvist, Professor of Informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA *

More about the book