In the year that Cape Town celebrates its designation as World Design Capital 2014 this conference offers all participants a special opportunity to contribute to current thinking and questioning around design as a catalyst and strategy for social change.

Conference theme: Design for participation: connecting disciplines, people and ideas


In the year that Cape Town celebrates its designation as World Design Capital 2014 this conference offers all participants a special opportunity to contribute to current thinking and questioning around design as a catalyst and strategy for social change. Design in its practice, research and education has moved to be more empathic and considerate of the user and their agency, and the many unique contextual requirements of any given proactive problem solving scenario be it for product, building, brand, service or experience design.

2014 presents a multidisciplinary challenge for all who practice, teach and think about design in their respective disciplines to engage with the question – “how can we use design, manifest across multiple disciplines, to make the world a better place for all to live in?’’ Professor Ezio Manzini, a global authority on design for sustainability, and one of our DDR keynote speakers, describes design for social innovation as “a process of change emerging from the creative re-combination of existing assets, (social capital, historical heritage traditional craftsmanship, accessible advanced technology)  innovation driven by social demands rather than by the market and generated more by the actors involved”.

The DDR conference will be an excellent platform for researchers, academics and practitioners who design in various disciplines to come together, share ideas and showcase successes and failures that advance our understanding of what design can be in our complex contemporary society.



All people who believe that design forms part of their personal and professional ambitions, careers, and activities. These include designers, researchers, engineers, scientists, managers, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, educators, consultants, technologists, government officials, IT specialists, systems architects, media specialists, architects, planners, developers, artists, etc.



In line with World Design Capital 2014, the universal theme of the conference is “Live design, transform life”. We invite tracks that address any or all of the 4 conference threads, coupled with a specific focus area. Multidisciplinary submissions are thus welcomed. The four primary threads include:

DESIGN: It is in this thread that we see the essence of design and innovation, and would invite speakers to share their experiences of interesting projects.


Tracks under this thread are:

  • Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability
  • Design and Climate Futures
  • Design to Empower


DEVELOPMENT: This thread highlights both the role of design in developing products, systems and artifacts as well as how these could address diverse problems and challenges affecting communities in developing contexts.


Tracks under this thread are:

  • Software development for Resources
  • E-Government for Development
  • Successful Implementation
  • ICT for Development


RESEARCH: This thread invites us to think about the relationship between research and the design and development of products, systems and artifacts as part of the design process, e.g. research through design. Key aspects include design research, development research, design thinking, design education, action research, participatory design and research methodology.


Tracks under this thread are:

  • Art and Design Education
  • Regenerative and Sustainable buildings and Cities
  • Challenges in humans’ well-being: innovative product design


DILEMMA: This thread centres on the uncomfortable, radical, and problematic aspects of experiences in practice and the complexities of reality.


Tracks under this thread are:

  • Game Design for Participation
  • Digital Literacy and Leadership
  • E-Commerce for Development


We invite submissions that tackle failures, tensions and complexities with a critical view.


In addition to the tracks under the 4 threads we also include additional focus areas, namely:

  1. BIO-ECONOMY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY: Biotechnology is considered a key sector for future economic growth and has been the driving force behind the development of environmentally sustainable production practices and the development of innovative products.
  2.  SPACE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: South Africa has become increasingly dependent on space-based applications to manage its national resources and to support its safety and security objectives. Consequently, the Department of Science and Technology has identified Space Science (and its supporting Technology) as one of the five ‘Grand Challenges’ to be addressed in its Ten-Year Innovation Plan.
  3.  ENERGY: Electricity and transport fuels are critical resources as they are being depleted globally. Energy security has been identified as the third Grand Challenge by the Department of Science and Technology in its 10-year Plan.
  4.  HUMAN AND SOCIAL DYNAMICS: The creative, imaginative, critical and analytical qualities of humans in a knowledge economy become complex in the advent of technology. The human and social underpinnings of technology in business, government, education, healthcare and the informal sector needs to be carefully considered to deepen our understanding of a socio-technical world.
  5.  DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY: Design for Sustainability is a branch of design that addresses social, ethical, environmental, and economic equity with respect to developmental and technological imperatives (Findeli, 2008). In this regard, Sustainable development seeks to promote advancements that benefit humanity without negatively affecting the potential livelihoods of future generations on our planet.
  6.  CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENT: Millennium Goal 7 is to ensure environmental sustainability. Some of the challenges of this goal are to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse the loss of environmental resources; reduce biodiversity loss; and reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
  7.  ECONOMIC GROWTH AND INTERNATIONAL COMPETITIVENESS: Strong domestic consumption and a gradual recovery of global demand should provide considerable impetus to the economic momentum of the Global South. However, many of its economies remain highly vulnerable to volatility in commodity markets and developments in the principal sources of demand.



  1. FULL PAPERS (6-8 PAGES or 5000 to 6000 words)
    Full research papers subjected to a double-blind peer review process
  2.  SHORT PAPERS (4 PAGES or 2400 words)
    Submissions include: short, practice-oriented papers, work-in-progress, presentations, participatory art encounters and industry cases
  3.  EVENTS (2 PAGES)
    Co-design workshops, tutorials, interactive sessions, un-conference, etc.


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