Lara Penin will speak at the Modern Design History Seminar on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. Her talk is entitled “Design Futures: Service Design for Social Innovation.”

Penin’s talk at the BGC will investigate the current social ambition of design by navigating the practice, research, and pedagogical experience of the Parsons DESIS Lab. One such project is “Amplifying Creative Communities,” which aims at amplifying creative, sustainable lifestyles based on existing citizen-driven innovations. The project employs an original design approach towards social action, using film-based documentation, exhibition, and workshop modalities to highlight and enhance current collective actions of citizens producing positive hyper-local change within neighborhoods. This and other projects will provide the basis for a reflection on the nature and future of design. In particular, Penin will look at the advanced practice of service design and how it can be used to foster social innovation. Multidisciplinary by nature, service design is a holistic approach to designing for people’s experiences and interactions. When infused with values and critical thinking, service design can become a design praxis well positioned to promote social change.

Lara Penin is Assistant Professor of Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design Strategies at Parsons: The New School for Design, where she also coordinates the Area of Study of Service Design at the Integrated Design Program. She received a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, a BA in Industrial Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands, and a PhD in Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication from Politecnico di Milano University, Italy. Penin’s work focuses on design for sustainable social innovation and service design. She has worked on a series of projects dedicated to research and modeling of sustainable ways of living through service design. Penin was the Principal Investigator of a two-year project, called “Amplifying Social Innovations,” which received a grant from Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Funds NYC 2009. Her recent publications include “Amplifying Innovative Sustainable Urban Behaviors: Defining a Design-Led Approach to Social Innovation” in Robert Crocker and Steffen Lehmann, eds., Motivating Change: Sustainable Design and Behaviour in the Built Environment (London: Routledge, 2013); “A Critical Approach to Service Design Education: Building an Undergraduate Learning Path at Parsons School of Design Strategies,” Touchpoint: The Journal of Service Design, Volume 3:1: Learning, Changing, Growing! (2011); and “The DESIS Network: Design and Social Innovation for Sustainability,” co-authors, Ezio Manzini, Miaosen Gong, Carla Cipolla, Mugendi M’rithaa, and Andrea Mendoza, The Journal of Design Strategies, Parsons The New School for Design, Vol. 4:1: Change Design (Spring 2010).