Let’s step into each other’s worlds: designing for local transformation processes


  • Froukje Sleeswijk Visser
  • Jeroen van Erp




design for local transformation, polarisation, empathy, roles of designers


In our densely-populated cities, fostering harmony between differing communities is an increasingly difficult art, and one in which design can provide positive contributions. This paper describes a design project which aimed to decrease tensions between youth and residents in a city neighbourhood through an empathy-building process. Individuals from both groups were guided through the process of stepping into each others’ worlds (through Virtual Reality) and developing solutions together to address points of tension. Their individual transformative processes were tracked in order to make the implicit outcomes of such design processes explicit. Throughout this process new dynamics and connections emerged, revealing grounds for structurally decreasing tensions and promoting participatory approaches for local transformation processes. This paper describes the project and presents our learnings regarding (1) the transformative impact on the involved individuals from the neighbourhood and (2) reflections on the contributing roles of the designers in social innovation projects.