DESIS Network Philosophy Talk by Ezio Manzini: Connecting Diversities – Living Together in a Fluid World, What Design Can Do


2:30-3:30 Ezio Manzini: Intro and theme presentation 3:30-4:15 Discussion in groups 4:15-5:00 Groups discussion presentation 5:00-5:30 Final discussion and wrap up


The world we are used to seeing as solid is eroding and everything seems to be shifting very fast. In Europe, migrants are the most tragic, visible and tangible dimension of a larger, on-going change: in highly-connected, modern societies, family, neighborhood, and community are progressively disappearing, replaced by loose networks of highly-mobile individuals, all of whom are “displaced” in some way.

Given that, we must move away from the traditional model of solid and often homogenous social institutions and toward open and dynamic — and therefore fluid and changeable — forms and structures. The question then becomes: how can people who consider each other strangers live well together? How do we achieve connection within diversity? The answer is collaboration.

Even in contemporary society, with all its contradictions and complexity, collaboration is possible. Already we see collaborative social innovation in action between very different people — whether it’s organizing soccer games, playing music together or starting up enterprises, taking care for each other, or collaborating in solving everyday life problems. Diverse people are able to achieve value and harmony as one. The task of design must be to create ecosystems where these forms of collaboration can grow and thrive, generating models that go well beyond the directly involved people to improve social cohesion as a whole.


The workshop is shaped as a conversation between the presenter and the audience. The presenter proposes a theme and his personal point of view. In this case, the theme is the one of individual and social resilience in a fluid world and the point of view is the one of a European designer involved in the dramatic social and political events that are taking place in Europe in this time.

This presentation intends to challenge the audience and verify if and how the proposed theme and point of view are recognized in the Hong Kong context. And, moving from here, recognize similarities and difference.

The workshop is part of a DESIS Network program named of Philosophy Talks: a format conceived to trigger and support in-depth discussion on design-related cultural issues. In practical terms, it consists in raising a question and discusses it with groups of experts, design researchers and reflexive practitioners in several different places (i.e. in several different social and cultural contexts).

This workshop is open to SD community, including: staff, postgraduate (MDes and MSc) and research students only.

About Ezio Manzini

Ezio Manzini

Chair Professor of Design for Social Innovation,
University of the Arts London
Founder, DESIS Network  

For more than two decades Prof. Ezio Manzini has been working in the field of design for sustainability. Most recently, his interests have focussed on social innovation, considered as a major driver of sustainable changes. In this perspective he started DESIS: an international network of schools of design specifically active in the field of design for social innovation and sustainability (

Presently, he is Chair Professor of Design for Social Innovation at the University of the Arts London (London), Honorary Professor at the Politecnico di Milano and Guest Professor at Tongji University (Shanghai) and Jiangnan University (Wuxi). 

In addition to his continuous involvement in the design for sustainability arena, he has explored and promoted design potentialities in different fields, such as: Design of Materials, in the 80s; Strategic Design, in the 90s (starting a Master in Strategic Design); Service Design, in the last ten years (starting the specific courses in Service Design). 

His most recent book is “Design, When Everybody Designs. An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation”, MIT Press 2015.

Official Discussants

Prof. Laurent Gutierrez
Dr. Pelin Tan


This workshop is open to SD community, including: staff, postgraduate (MDes and MSc) and research students only. Participants can prepare for the workshop by ready the background papers suggested by Prof. Ezio Manzini. Participants will be notified the access of these papers before the workshop.



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