The Master in Imagineering students 2014-2015 went up North to explore how Scandinavia is designing for social innovation. It was also a full immersion into Danish Design. In the country of Arne Jacobsen and Lego, Copenhagen showed us that the human scale has always been at the heart of Danish Design. The creation of value to people’s daily lives is the starting point of every new product and service.

Finland, the country of Nokia & iittala, also gave an inspirational perspective whilst we stayed in Helsinki. In both countries, we visited different institutions working in the sectors of government, business and education to see how they are designing for social innovation.

The entire fieldtrip functioned as a source of inspiration for the municipality of Breda city, The Netherlands. The city council called the students up for inspiration they would find in Scandinavia, which could be useful for the municipality to implement.

Design Thinking

It’s evident design thinking is ubiquitous in Scandinavia. Shifting from the traditional industrial design towards the design of creative processes is an awareness that has definitely landed in Denmark. We felt privileged to have the opportunity to get to meet Kit Lykketoft from MindLab and Christian Bason, CEO of the Danish Design Centre. The trip also brought the chance to see how different educational institutions try to find their changing role in a connected society. Each of them using their very own strategy. From the Design2Innovate (Kolding Design School) where of all applicants only 10% is admitted, to Copenhagen Business School, a fast growing institution with its main focus on creating economies of scale. The trip ended in Finland with a visit to Laurea, a university of applied sciences owned by the local community. Where the four teams of the Imagineering Academy presented their ideas to a jury of their own master students.

Design as a competency of “all”      

When visiting the city, it seems even citizens are design centred, or at least aware of how their actions shape a city based on the values of liveability, freedom and mutual respect. In Vesterbro, the area of our hotel in Copenhagen, the street scene seamlessly contains both drug addicts and baby carriages. Copenhageners, ardent bike users, consider cyclist road users that should respect traffic lights and the rules of traffic. And when entering a store would it occur to you to leave the baby carriage with your baby outside on the sidewalk? Here you can. In the city centre there were plenty examples of transformation of the city’s former industrial areas like Meatpacking District, Paper Island and Carlsberg area.

Copenhagen and Helsinki made clear to us that true transformations are never merely a physical one; a real complex issue requires creating a mind shift. Using design and system thinking combined with a broad understanding of business and humanity can be a powerful way of adjusting organisations to the complex changes in society, also for the city of Breda.

Final presentation 1.

Final presentation 2.

Final presentation 3.

Final presentation 4.

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