2.4 ROLE OF DESIGN
It is essential that experts and non-experts start cooperating in these transdisciplinary settings with its fluid boundaries, as it will develop urgently needed new knowledge. Do designers have a role in this? What is the role and expertise of designers in these transdisciplinary setting or city labs? Design has the potential to bridge the gap between experts and non-experts with knowledge and ideas because they are skilled in visualisation and have the imagination to translate ideas for, for instance, their clients. The change makers can contribute by having radical ideas, but those ideas need to be understood by the experts, designers can translate these idea’s. Designers Diana Krabbendam (designer and co-founder The Beach) stated in an interview with Fuad-Luke in ‘Agents of Alternatives – Re-designing Our Realities ‘ (Fuad-Luke, Lisa-Hirscher, Moebus, 2015), that “organisations are often not capable of adapting to such radical new things easily… the designers [are skilled] in linking to the business world.” (Fuad-Luke, Lisa-Hirscher, Moebus, 2015, p.299-300)
Designers can diverge between ‘making’, ‘thinking’, and ‘feeling’, which gives them the capacity to be able to diverge between scales, systems, methods, and positions. Designers, therefore, have the ability to critically reflect on these various systems because by taking different positions. In that interview, Krabbendam pointed out that this is an emerging new role for design. “We are in the process of transformation, it goes so fast. I think it is important to be criticality reflective all the time… so it is a role to take.” (Fuad-Luke, Lisa-Hirscher, Moebus, 2015,p.309)
Designers have the expertise to catalyse change, because they are skilled in making visions tangible. They can do so by actively contributing to and experimenting with these ideas and this gives a tangible (materialized) canvas in which change makers can operate. Experimenting and acting upon these ‘alternatives’ can disrupt current systems. According to Fuad-Luke, “alternatives that create friction, generate friction, and gain genuine traction to change the present.” (Fuad-Luke, Lisa-Hirscher, Moebus, 2015, p.476) The possibility of design in materializing the non-existent possible positive future and to experiment in reality with different scenarios creates a new narrative that runs parallel to the current situation. Fuad-Luke argued that “design activists can offer a potent contribution to developing counter-narratives, counter-dialogues, and counter-actions which reframe every day problems as possibilities.” (Fuad-Luke, Lisa-Hirscher, Moebus, 2015, p.289)
Designers play an essential role in transdisciplinary cooperation due to their expertise in visualisation, materialization, possibility to critically reflect and their ability to fluidly move between roles and scenarios as it connects various stakeholders. Design as a profession is operating on the fluid boundaries in these settings and therefor has a potential in addressing ecological issue’s. In the next chapter I will elaborate on the consequences of these fluid boundaries for the professional standard in general and specific for design and what then can be expected from the design field.
 the beach: Social engaged Design Lab. At the core of The Beach’ activities is designing situations that allow for the shaping of new meanings and new relationships. (https://www.thebeach.nu/en/page/356/the-beach, accessed June2017)