Social Equality and Design: User Participation and Professional Practice

By Kin Wai Michael Siu.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Designs always claim to provide a benefit to mankind. However, in recent years, more social researchers and design professionals have questioned whether design can bring benefit to all. They criticise that design research and its outcomes most of the time only serve the majority of the people or those who can pay for the cost. Few designs cater to the needs of the minority, deprived and persons with disabilities. In other words, social equality cannot be illustrated and achieved by design as it claims. From 2000 to 2009, a series of inclusive research projects were conducted in Hong Kong. The projects included two major activities: in-depth investigations, and user-participatory design workshops. Researchers, professional designers and users actively participated in the research and design activities. This paper first reviews the fundamental function of design in that it should serve all, including persons with different capabilities. Taking everyday environments and products as case studies, this paper explores the relationship between professional practice and user participation. This paper advocates that good collaboration between professionals and users is the best way to accomplish social equality. Only applying user participation with professional coordination and facilitation can obtain high quality of designs which serve the needs of all.

Keywords: Social Equality, Design, Professional Practice, User Participation, Interdisciplinary, Inclusive

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.473-490. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.415MB).

Prof. Kin Wai Michael Siu

Professor & Public Design Lab Leader, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Kin Wai Michael Siu is Professor and Lab Leader of the Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He was Fulbright Scholar of the MIT, AISA Fellow of the National University of Singapore, and Visiting Scholar of the UC Berkeley. He has served the Hong Kong Government’s advisory committees and professional bodies as members. He owns more than 50 design patents in the United States, Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. His research interests include design, society and culture, universal and inclusive design, and user-reception.


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