Track 6.b Introduction: Design Literacy enabling Critical Innovation Practices


  • Liv Merete Nielsen Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
  • Eva Lutnæs Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway
  • Mia Porko-Hudd Åbo Akademi University, Finland
  • Úrsula Bravo Universidad del Desarrollo & Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
  • Catalina Cortés Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile
  • Rita Assoreira Almendra Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
  • Erik Bohemia Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway



Design Literacy, Track, Editorial, ADIM, 2019, Eductation, Citizenship, Sustainability


Norwegian research group Design Literacy at Oslo Metropolitan University (OsloMet) which is led by professor Liv Merete Nielsen has initiative to this paper track. The paper track was accompanied by a workshop.

Design Literacy can be regarded as a catalyst for a move towards a better citizens participation in innovative design processes. By educating the general public to become design literate, there is a chance to support critical innovation and a possible move towards sustainable societies (Stegall, 2006). The challenge is to articulate content, performance and continuity for a critical decision-making process and how this influence critical innovation and design education at large.

The concept ‘Design Literacy’ addresses the complex matter of objectives, content and practices in design processes and education. Research on multiple literacies has evoked considerable debate and redefinition within several areas of educational research (Coiro et al. 2008); the understanding of literacy is no longer bound to the ability to read and write verbal text or numeracy. Design Literacy (Nielsen and Brænne, 2013) are among newly coined literacies. Design Literacy is connected both to the creation and understanding of design innovation in a broad sense. In today’s mostly artificial world, the Design Literacy is regarded as a competence not only for the professional designer, but also for the general public in their position as citizens, consumers, users and decision makers in innovative processes.

Designed artefacts and services influence our lives and values, both from personal and societal perspectives. Designers, decision makers and investors hold different positions in the design process, but they all make choices that will influence new innovations and our future. In order to solve crucial global challenges, designers and investors must cooperate; for this purpose, we argue that design literacy is necessary for all. We argue that the Design Literacies can support practices associated with innovation, democratic participation in design processes, developing and enacting ethical responsibilities, and understanding and supporting sustainable aspects of production and consumption.

The track called for researchers to explore the following points:

  • How development of Design Literacy can support critical innovation and sustainable issues
  • Progressions in scaffolding Design Literacies from a pre-school to a university level
  • The potential of Design Literacy to support collaborative and experimental approaches of projects between: investors/designers, general public/designers, children/designers
  • How design education for the general public can represent both a foundation for professional design education and a prequalification for lay persons’ competence for decision-making and critical innovation
  • How might Design Literacy influence sustainability issues in society?
  • What are the challenges of professional design, when everyone wants to design?

Research submnited for this track addressing the points above have been useful as a point of departure for the Design Literacy workshop and the creation of the Design Literacy International network. The papers have also been useful for the promotion of critical innovation and to inform policy and for educational implementation. The importance lies in the needs to better inform design education itself, to improve the approach of design educators, and to educate reflective citizens, policy makers, entrepreneurs and consumers in perspective of critical innovation.




How to Cite

Nielsen, L. M., Lutnæs, E., Porko-Hudd, M., Bravo, Úrsula, Cortés, C., Assoreira Almendra, R., & Bohemia, E. (2019). Track 6.b Introduction: Design Literacy enabling Critical Innovation Practices. Conference Proceedings of the Academy for Design Innovation Management , 2(1), 1291–1294.

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