| By José Bártolo


In a generalised context of challenges, design is currently being put to the test. Put to the test of the market and to the test of society, which have transformed quickly and profoundly and are still characterised by their part in processes of change underway, whether more ephemeral (so-called trends), or more structural.
More than the capacity to react to these phenomena of change (crises, fashions, cycles), the planning component of design requires the proactiveness needed to be able to introduce positive solutions, either for identified problems, or for emerging ones, or, also, for those that can be anticipated, technically or critically.
In the last decade the concept of social responsibility of design has been through various phases. Today the topic of social design, when compared to what was happening at the beginning of the century, is less guided by a return to principles of universality of modern design, a utopian quest for an ideal design, and increasingly pragmatic, contextually guided, committed to generating innovation here and now.
Innovation should not be confused with something new. Innovation necessarily implies a broadening of possibilities, a positive transformation, whether of the scientific, technological or social kind.

Innovation should not be confused with something new

Not dependent on any other means or resources besides creativity, critical spirit and planning talent, social innovation can be identified as a component for which designers and design institutions should be held accountable. This responsibility, individual and collective (which should involve schools, companies and the state), is inherent to an authentic culture of design. Out of this culture should come dialogue, contradiction and, at the same time, the consensus that should be generated, in the interests of responsibility and of hope.