Tom Bieling »Design as Inclusion«

By Design or by Disaster Talk
Wednesday, 10 October 2018, 18:30
unibz, room F0.01

»The word disability is, at best, an inappropriate label for a poorly designed world«
Tom Bieling, THE ATLANTIC, June 26, 2013

»In the conceptualisation and development of information–communication–technologies as well as in policy making, the needs, experiences and knowledge of socially marginalised people are still often not considered and incorporated. Targeting social majorities, for instance in the processes of product development or marketing, even reinforces the processes of social exclusion. The more marginalised certain communities are, the stronger they are excluded from several forms of information, communication and participation. This [evening lecture] draws from critical theories of design and technology to describe and situate some of the challenges and opportunities for design (research) in terms of social inclusion.«
Bieling, Tom / Joost, Gesche (2017): Hacking Normalcy – Disability from a Design Research Perspective; In: Design for All, Vol. 12 No. 12, New-Dehli, India

»Self-evidently, the design of products, technologies, services, systems, virtual worlds and tangible objects always implicitly transmits role models and values. Design and the images it disseminates, often unreflectively, are hence unavoidably political. Thus design plays a key role in shaping not only material culture, but also societal values and human behavior. There is no doubt that the scope of action for designers also involves increasing awareness of the sociopolitical dimension of their design activities, in particular when it is a question of recognizing the power of their designs to exclude (or include), and of critically interrogating this power«
Bieling, Tom (2018): Design and Inclusion. In: Ralf Michel (Ed.): Integrative Design: Essays and Projects. Basel: Birkhäuser; to be published soon

Dr. phil. des. Tom Bieling is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Design Research Lab of Berlin University of the Arts (Institute for Product and Process Design), where he heads the Social Design and Innovation cluster, since 2007. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Trento, teaches Transformation Design at the New Design University (NDU) in St. Pölten, and has been a Visiting Professor at the German University in Cairo (GUC; Faculty of Applied Sciences & Art) since 2011. Tom is Editor-in-chief at DESIGNABILTIES – Design Research Journal and Co-Editor of the book series Design Meanings. In his research he mainly focuses on social and political dimensions of design, and aspects of design for social innovation, interaction and inclusion. He has held numerous guest lectures and run workshops at international universities (e.g. Mumbai, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Basel, Bern, Luzern, Milano, Portland, Spokane, Edinburgh, Brussels, Nottingham, Tallinn, Bremen, Budapest, Dresden, Potsdam, Konstanz, Hildesheim, Trient, Eindhoven or Rotterdam). His work has been exhibited internationally, for instance in New York, London, Berlin, Vienna, Manchester, Sheffield, Milano, Brno, Munich, Dresden, St. Etienne, Karlsruhe, St. Gallen, Eindhoven, St. Quirin, Darmstadt, Paderborn and Cologne. Tom is a founding member of the Design Research Network, founder of the Institute for Applied Fantasies (Institut für angewandte Fantasie), head of the Ultràgallery, co-founder of the Civic Tech Lab at the Einstein Center Digital Future (ECDF), and Initiator of the International Research Network on Design (and) Activism. In his previous work as communication-, interaction- and user experience designer he worked with clients including Daimler-Chrysler, T-Mobile USA, Museum Ludwig, Smart or Dokumentationszentrum für Popkultur. He was recently announced “Young Innovator of the Year” by the Falling Walls Consortium. Latest books: “Inklusion als Entwurf”, “Design (&) Activism”, and “Gender (&) Design” to be published in 2018/19. Further info: and

3 recommended readings: 

Tom Bieling: Inklusion als Entwurf – Teilhabe orientierte Forschung über, für und durch Design (Birkhäuser 2019)

Tom Bieling (Ed.): Design (&) Activism – Perspectives on Design as Activism and Activism as Design (Mimesis 2018/19)

Bieling, Tom; Martins, Tiago; Joost, Gesche (2017): Interactive inclusive – Designing tools for activism and empowerment; Book Chapter in: Kent, M. & Ellis, K.: Disability and Social Media; Taylor & Francis, Routledge, London; ISBN 978-1-47245-845-2