Design, When Everybody Designs

From Design Thinking, Design Theory

Design, When Everybody Designs

An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation

By Ezio Manzini

Translated by Rachel Coad

The role of design, both expert and nonexpert, in the ongoing wave of social innovation toward sustainability.





The role of design, both expert and nonexpert, in the ongoing wave of social innovation toward sustainability.

In a changing world everyone designs: each individual person and each collective subject, from enterprises to institutions, from communities to cities and regions, must define and enhance a life project. Sometimes these projects generate unprecedented solutions; sometimes they converge on common goals and realize larger transformations. As Ezio Manzini describes in this book, we are witnessing a wave of social innovations as these changes unfold—an expansive open co-design process in which new solutions are suggested and new meanings are created.

Manzini distinguishes between diffuse design (performed by everybody) and expert design (performed by those who have been trained as designers) and describes how they interact. He maps what design experts can do to trigger and support meaningful social changes, focusing on emerging forms of collaboration. These range from community-supported agriculture in China to digital platforms for medical care in Canada; from interactive storytelling in India to collaborative housing in Milan. These cases illustrate how expert designers can support these collaborations—making their existence more probable, their practice easier, their diffusion and their convergence in larger projects more effective. Manzini draws the first comprehensive picture of design for social innovation: the most dynamic field of action for both expert and nonexpert designers in the coming decades.


$26.95 T ISBN: 9780262028608 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 21 b&w illus.


Rachel Coad.


  • Design, When Everybody Designs by Ezio Manzini is a timely, provocative, and essential read for all those that are engaged in or are affected by design and design processes—in other words, all of us. Whether one is an elite designer, a grassroots activist, a design educator, or a bureaucratic or corporate decision maker, Ezio Manzini challenges us all to rethink the role of design and that of the 'designers' in contemporary society. He wants us to reimagine design's relationship to addressing social innovation and building a sustainable and resilient culture. To say it is must-reading is an understatement–it is a clarion call for a conversation to be launched to rethink what is normal and what ought to be.

    Ronald Shiffman

    Professor Emeritus, Pratt Institute Programs for Sustainable Planning and Development, Pratt Institute School of Architecture; coauthor of Building Together: Case Studies in Participatory Planning and Community Building

  • In this extraordinary new book, Ezio Manzini challenges us to imagine a future that is more ecologically and socially resilient and more desirable to live in. Through compelling examples of local social innovation around the world today, Manzini shows that it is possible to begin to change the way we think and live, to change how we relate to each other and the world around us, and in the process begin to make the world anew. This book arrives at a critical juncture in human history and provides a way forward.

    Joel Towers

    Executive Dean, Parsons School of Design, The New School

  • There is a deep humanism in the work of Ezio Manzini, and it is evident in the clarity and insights of his latest book. I am glad to recommend this book to anyone interested in the role of design in the new culture that we are all creating.

    Richard Buchanan

    Professor and Chair of the Department of Design & Innovation, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University

  • Ezio Manzini's utterly inspiring book describes an emerging social economy in which human and environmental interests converge. We are introduced to an archipelago of microworlds in which a new economy, so long awaited, is being born. In this world, collaboration counts for more than consumption, and relationships are the true source of value.

    John Thackara

    founder, Doors of Perception

  • Ezio Manzini's new book grapples with the very pressing question of the emerging role of the (professionally trained) designer in a new global dispensation wherein varying degrees of design can be effected by just about anyone with some basic knowledge of its agency. The book's relevance is enhanced through the generously illustrated and accessible case studies from diverse sociocultural, economic, and geopolitical contexts. This important text is highly recommended to anyone keen to understand the evolving role of the designer, and how this (r)evolution impacts upon the pedagogic, research, and professional practice imperatives of design in the future.

    Mugendi K. M'Rithaa

    Professor at the Department of Industrial Design, Cape Peninsula University of Technology