Reframing the Situation

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  • Title: Reframing the Situation: Design for Life—Thinking beyond Inclusive Design
  • Author(s): Gideon Dotan, Jonathan Ventura
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design in Society
  • Keywords: Inclusive Design, Design Pedagogy, Participatory Design, Design Practice, Design Research
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2325-1328 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1360 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Dotan, Gideon , and Jonathan Ventura. 2018. "Reframing the Situation: Design for Life—Thinking beyond Inclusive Design." The International Journal of Design in Society 12 (3): 1-27. doi:10.18848/2325-1328/CGP/v12i03/1-27.
  • Extent: 27 pages


In the past twenty-five years, inclusive design has permeated and influenced design practice throughout numerous countries. Taking society’s marginal users and placing them at the heart of the design process has offered the discipline of design a positive change. However, in the last years various changes have called for rethinking this important strategy. Socio-cultural changes throughout the globe have called the term marginal into consideration. Should we give special attention only to medical patients or design for people in other situations/ conditions, such as immigrants as well? Furthermore, while designers and indeed the entire industry have started to work together following the principles of inclusive design, a reframing of the term is needed. In this paper, we present an alternative concept to continue the legacy of inclusive design, one that is more suited to the challenges we face in the coming years. Our approach, termed situation design, focusing on various layers of design partners as well as the socio-cultural surroundings, has been established and honed during the past few years in an academic course called DSL (Design Saves Lives) led by Gideon Dotan. In this course, a methodology to tackle these projects is implemented and various design partners are contacted and integrated into the design process. Eventually, the culmination of these efforts leads to a characterization of the design situation in order to further develop the relevant solution. Therefore, by defining the broader term of design situation we wish to incorporate the various design ideologies, setting a target for socio-political design both in pedagogy, as well as in practice.