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Design and Care

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Paul Rodgers
added a research item
We, the authors, have been probing the state of the gesture of care for nearly a decade, and we staged our first international symposium to begin a process of re-formulating the conceptual basis of Care from the point of view of design in Copenhagen in 2015. A few years and events later the first “Does Design Care…?” workshop at Imagination Lancaster in 2017 asked participants to respond to what we had identified as 10 problems with care including - What might a theory of care look and feel like? How can care be made more explicit? How do we get to better care and what will it be like? Is inconsistent, unpredictable and ever-changing care desirable? How do we create attractive personalised and customised care? Since then, the concept of ‘care’ has become very popular with a booming literature very little of which sees any problems associated with care other than the need for more of it. In addition to the ten problems with care we started with, the first “Does Design Care…?” workshop produced some problems with the problems. We wondered whether it was worth asking how much care, in particular health and social care, is just opportunistic. It is not enough for me to care – the other must need care. So, people appearing to need care are perfect, soft targets for something that we design and call care, i.e., something easily imitating care. We also wonder what is the attraction for design to want to get into bed with health and social care when the invisible gesture of care is so complex - care is always care of the other, care for the other, care to be cared for by the other, care for what the other cares for.
Paul Rodgers
added a research item
In 2017, the first Does Design Care...? workshop at Imagination Lancaster asked a series of question that were eventually addressed in both the publication of "The Lancaster Care Charter" (Design Issues 35:1 2019) and the DDC…? Book. Similarly, in 2019 the second Does Design Care…? workshop in Chiba, Japan, asked more questions but this time the questions came from the participants. To participate in the Does Design Care [2]…? workshop applicants had to send a 1000 word position paper from which a number of questions emerged; questions we thought needed debate not just discussion (a bit of a beating rather than a mere shakeup). The questions are listed at the end of this introduction. It is important to make clear the questions arose from what the participants were saying. In order to familiarise themselves with the questions they were sent to all participants in advance of the workshop. On the first morning of the workshop participants were randomly paired for what we called Head-to-Head debates. Each pair was randomly assigned one of the 25 questions to explore and contend in greater detail. They were required to record (audio, notes, images, examples) their debate and at later stage in the workshop each pair presented what they had been debating to the rest of the participants. After the workshop each pair had to transcribe, edit, and enrich with visuals, their debate, all of which has been collected into this publication. Like the first workshop in Lancaster the Chiba workshop was a thinking, making and doing workshop that explored different ways to explore, conceptualise, provoke, contest and disrupt care, and the various outputs serve to synthesise future visions of care. Unlike the Lancaster workshop, a strong conviction coming from the participants was that design can and does empathise and therefore design can and does care. What-design-can-do is embedded in its historic belief in the design of what-might-become. But as we have written elsewhere, in reality design’s future has to confront what-might-not-become. And what-might-not-become has to confront the uncomfortable reality that design might not be able to do what it believes it can do. Care, being invisible, is a good test for what in reality design can do. Rebecca Solnit questions empathy when she writes “There’s a currently popular argument that books help us feel empathy, but if they do so they do it by helping us imagine that we are people we are not”. For design to care through empathy it might just be that design, continuing to advocate what-might-become, is producing designers who imagine they are people they are not. We have asked before whether design’s attraction to care is just opportunistic. And we wonder whether the allure of empathy for design to want to transact with care because, care is becoming elitist as Yuval Harari explains: “...because it rejects the idea of a universal standard applicable to all, and seeks to give some individuals an edge over others. People want superior memories, above-average intelligence and first-class sexual abilities.” (Harari, Homo Deus, p6) Foucault pointed out that diagnosing what is ill is always equally about enforcing what is healthy. These workshops have been diagnosing whether design cares and in this sense they have also been enforcing what-might-become of design. DDC[2]…? Questions What was Design doing before it latched on to Care? Should Design Care? What was Design doing before it latched on to empathy? Where will all of this caring get us? How might we best Design Care? How might we best Bespoke Care? What should we (Design) care about? What should we (Design) not waste our time caring about? Are there Care priorities for Design? If so, what are they and why? What kind of trade would a “Care Trade” look like? If Designer and User continue to have some form of relationship what future might Design and user Care for? Is it possible for Design to operate in a context where we choose not to Care? How might Design avoid the overdevelopment of Care? Is it possible that Design & Care might sometimes produce a negative result (which means being uncaring or careless)? Can Design Care for people’s frustrations and doubts? Is the invasion of Care by Design just another colonising fantasy? Can Design empathize? If so, where does all this empathizing get us? Despite the optimistic predictions for the Design of Care what does the doing of Care really do? To look at the future of Care which is best - Design fiction or Science fiction? What role does Design play in the gesture of Care? Will Designing Care eventually medicalise Design? If one were to explore the relationship between social value and the value of Care what might you get? Is Design as a practice completely outside the language of Care? Can Design’s idealistic claims of true inclusion ever be achieved? Can Design contribute to the gap between the ideal of Care and real Care?
Paul Rodgers
added a research item
The Covid-19 crisis and the designed interventions we have catalogued in this book appear to prove definitively that design does care. We have documented this as it evolved every day from the 1 January 2020 to 31 May 2020 inclusive. As the cover and back cover, influenced by the work of Sean Clarke, Antonio Voce, Pablo Gutierrez and Frank Hulley-Jones at The Guardian’s 100 days project, illustrate, we look at all of this care and caring from the point of view of design and, by the sheer volume of design interventions we have documented, illustrate that design is good in a crisis. What the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated is that for the first time in modern history capital was totally irrelevant. Money could not save your life. Only design could. Rapidly designed masks, shelters, hospitals, instructional posters, infographics, dashboards, respirators, sanitisers, virtual and local communities emerged to save us. From January 2020, design became king. The Covid-19 global pandemic presented an ontological reality; design is more than margins or profit. In fact, design became extremely valuable when it stopped concentrating on those things and started to care about peoples’ lives. This brief episode in history is repositioning the status of design and reconfiguring its signifier from consumption to care.
E. Winton
added a research item
This work explores where design should care, from the perspective of caring about carers of people who have degenerative mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. In the current epoch caring is delivered through many different structures, from organised and centralised systems of paid for services, through to ad-hoc responsive and enforced positions, thrust upon loved ones. When the burden of becoming a carer of a friend or loved one becomes your responsibility a number of sacrifices or responses are attached to the situation. Personal identification, emotional entanglement, immersion, investment and empowerment, along with many other concerns interweave, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. For some, the sudden and deep immersion of becoming a carer can even appear to be like a ‘prison sentence’ constricting time and freedom or restricting personal rights and responsibilities. Whilst for some 'care' is liberating, gives purpose and defines their being. And of course, 'care' can be hugely emotionally charged, both for those giving and receiving. Care is paradoxical in that it can both nurture and destroy and as such can lead to even more unmetered complexities. Or, ‘care’ can represent the greatest presentation of humanity.
Paul Rodgers
added a research item
In the fall of 1991 the Munich Design Charter was published in Design Issues. This charter was written as a design-led "call to arms" on the future nations and boundaries of Europe. The signatories of the Munich Design Charter saw the problem of Europe, at that time, as fundamentally a problem of form that should draw on the creativity and expertise of design. Likewise, the Does Design Care…? workshop held at Imagination , Lancaster University in the autumn of 2017 brought together a multidisciplinary group of people from 16 nations across 5 continents, who, at a critical moment in design discourse saw a problem with the future of Care. The Lancaster Care Charter has been written in response to the vital question "Does Design Care…?" and via a series of conversations, stimulated by a range of presentations that explored a range of provocations , insights, and more questions, provides answers for the contemporary context of Care. With nation and boundary now erased by the flow of Capital the Charter aims to address the complex and urgent challenges for Care as both the future possible and the responsibility of design. The Lancaster Care Charter presents a collective vision and sets out new pragmatic encounters for the design of Care and the care of Design.