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Relational Design (in Journal of Awareness Based Social Change)

Authors: Savannah Keith Gress, Victor Udoewa

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Participatory design occurs when professional designers do design work with the community members who will use the design. Traditional (colonial) participatory design leaves the choice of methodology in the hands of the professional designer, the leader or facilitator, who often chooses extractivist methods and methodologies, contradicting the very relationality, equity, and participation intended through participatory design. Using such methods in participatory design creates situations in which participating community members conduct extractivist, transactional methods against their own communities. In contrast, Radical Participatory Design decolonizes participatory processes as communities not only equally participate, but also equitably lead the design process, naturally leading to asset-based methodologies. Though Radical Participatory Design is a type of relational design because the design process is done relationally elevating relational knowledge and expertise, we go further to describe an explicit Relational Design.


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