Café des Sciences: Design for Social Good

In the upcoming Café des Sciences lecture, representatives from Zurich University of the Arts and Jiangnan University will join us to discuss the definition of social design today and why designers should take an active role in social change.

Early in the 1960s, the book Design for the Real World written by the American design theorist and educator Victor Papanek brought new thinking into the design world: the design must become an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the actual needs of men, which emphasizes that designers need to take great social and ethical responsibility for the consequences of their designs.

Now that more than half a century has passed, how do today’s experts define social design? What progress have Switzerland and China made in this field in the past few years? In this edition of our Café des Sciences lecture, we are pleased to invite two experts from the art and design institutions to share their perspectives and practices in social innovation.

We’ll first hear from Prof. Michael Krohn, Co-head of “re-source | sustainability in the Arts” at Zurich University of the Arts, on how social design combines design creativity with the development of socially sustainable and appropriate solutions. He’ll also introduce the principles of social design from a broader perspective. It thus promotes a different approach to design processes and implements new design roles in practice and education. Then, Prof. Dr. Miaosen Gong, Director of DESIS labSchool of Design of Jiangnan University, will present the projects of the Keyihui social design lab. It is a social enterprise incubated by DESIS Lab of Jiangnan University since 2012. The projects will show how design could support people with intellectual disabilities to have decent well-being.

Join us onsite or via Zoom to learn about social design and interact with the experts.




*China Time

Live broadcasting via Zoom from 19:00 to 20:00


18:30 – 19:00             Registration


19:00 – 19:05             Welcome Remarks
Dr. Philippe Roesle, CEO, Consul, Swissnex in China


19:05 – 19:25              Design with Social Impact
Prof. Michael Krohn, Co-head of “re-source | sustainability in the Arts”, Zurich University of the Arts


19:25 – 19:45              Design for Social Good: The Case of Design for Social Innovation “Keyihui”
Prof. Dr. Miaosen Gong, Director of DESIS lab, School of Design, Jiangnan University


19:45 – 20:00             Discussion and Q&A


20:00 – 21:00            Networking Reception




Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) is one of the leading art universities in Europe. The study and research programs cover the areas of art education, design, performing arts, fine arts, music, and transdisciplinary studies. It is a state university with its own legal personality and is institutionally accredited. It is internationally oriented and active in various networks.

ZHdK’s publications and results bear witness to the university’s standing as a leading arts academy with a long and varied tradition. Today, innovative and multimedia formats characterize the university’s publishing activities. ZHdK is committed to the principles of transparency by open access and open science.



The School of Design of Jiangnan University is one of the leading design institutions in China. With the longest history since 1960, it is the main birthplace of modern design education in China. As one of the most active international practice contributors as well as the demonstration base for training outstanding design talents for the industry, it has won the National Teaching Achievement Award four times, and it is ranked third place in China’s Best Universities Discipline Ranking (2021), the third place in the postgraduate design program ranking done by RCCSE (2022) and world top 150 in the 2022 QS Art and Design Subject Ranking.

The school currently offers various design programs for both local and international PhD, master, and undergraduate students. Among all programs, product design and environmental design are selected as national first-class programs. Today, the School of Design is committed to the mission of development in the new era, strives to develop into the plant for Chinese design thinking with a global vision, and the model area for international design education reform and practice continues to lead the direction of Chinese design education, and promotes the economy with design-driven innovation, to brings positive changes in many fields such as environment, society, science, and technology, supporting the future development of the country, region and industry.




Café des Sciences is an event series at Swissnex in China initiated in 2019, offering a platform for Swiss spotlight scientists, start-ups, artists and designers to present their projects and connect with the local community. The lectures offer a casual setting in which speakers can present their work and engage with the attendees during a Q&A period. Audiences are welcomed to enjoy the networking reception with Swiss flavor after the talk. Starting in 2021, the lectures are scheduled to take place on the third Thursday of every other month at Swissnex in China or our partner spaces.


The Café des Sciences event series is supported by Presence Switzerland.