SAFENESS BY DESIGN: A NEW DESIGN PARADIGM
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: De Vere, Ian; Mcleod, Ross; Wagenfeld, Malte
Institution: RMIT University, Australia
Section: Research in Design and Engineering Education Practice
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.63
Design has the potential to significantly improve safety and well being, reduce risk and save lives either during the design phase or through targeted design interventions towards urban infrastructure, systems and services. The broad user-centred skills and technical knowledge base of designers allows the potential for clear problem definition using ethnographic discovery processes, creative design and innovative design resolution in a socio-technical context. Safeness by Design, an initiative emerging from RMIT University’s School of Design, aims to enhance health, wellbeing and social values by using design to achieve actual and evident safeness across a broad range of environment and contexts. Addressing urban safeness in early studio collaborations with the City of Melbourne and the Ajuntament de Barcelona, the initiative has resulted in design interventions that embrace holistic and multidisciplinary approaches to the issues of safeness on personal, social, spatial and technological levels. Student project outcomes have been exhibited in 2020 at both Melbourne and Barcelona Design Weeks. Is this a new design paradigm? As designers transition from product dependant (and market driven) outcomes to those less tangible activities, increasingly the role of design as an enabler of societel wellbeing, capable of making a greater contribution to communities and lifestyles opens up new practice foci. Whilst design has always considered safety, and in many istances have been required to address safety from a compliance and/or product liability perspective, safeness by design aims to apply a specific lens to design practice. Aspirational in its intent, it seeks to operate outside of safety compliance frameworks; utlising human centred design, experience and interaction design, social design and service design approaches, rather risk management methodologies, to achieve actual or perceived safeness. Rather than a design specialisation, it proposes a generalist and multidisciplinary approach that activates all of the designers toolkit, and operates within a social framework that is qualitative and less measurable or tangible. This is not Failure Modes Effects Analysis (FMEA), rather it is design using its understanding of user behaviour and situational contexts to identify and respond to safeness concerns through targeted design activities and interventions. This paper introduces Safeness by Design as a new design paradigm, examining the contribution of early works to safer urban contexts, and proposes a safeness-led approach to design practice.