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Skills for the next generation of social designers

Uscreates had the pleasure of being involved in the judging the next generation of social designers, in three different categories of the RSA Student Design Award this year – mother and baby health, learning for life, and combating lifestyle-related health conditions.

We love the SDAs: it’s so inspiring to see the ingenuity and creativity of young designers turned towards questions of global importance. We believe we’re now in a new era for design, where the skills and methods that were once used to create 2D and 3D ‘things’, are being applied to develop solutions (or approaches) to much more intangible and open-ended questions. New fields are opening up: transition design, transdisciplinary design, social design, design for social innovation, systemic design. The SDAs are a great proving ground and launch pad for young designers wanting to pursue this kind of agenda in their future careers.

At Uscreates, we have been doing non-traditional, ‘post-thing’ design for some time. Over the last 12 years, we have been applying a design approach to social and public challenges in the UK. These days we find ourselves working on increasingly complex problems. Briefs aren’t just about rejigging a discrete service or communications campaign, but about creating change in interdependent systems. Reflecting on our experience of what’s needed ‘at the coal face’, we think there are a few core skills and competencies for young designers wanting to make the transition from a disciplinary focus to a challenge focus: