Nature-inspired design for self-organized social systems: A tool for collaborative communities

DS 94: Proceedings of the Design Society: 22nd International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED19)

Year: 2019
Editor: Wartzack, Sandro; Schleich, Benjamin; Gon
Author: Lee, Sumin (1); Baek, Joon Sang (2)
Series: ICED
Institution: Yonsei University
Section: Collaborative Design
DOI number:
ISSN: 2220-4342


This research was motivated by the need to design for self-organized and sustained collaborative communities. A collaborative community is defined as a group of people who are bound by a sense of community and fulfil their unmet needs through collaboration (Baek, Meroni, & Manzini, 2015). A community with limited resources and premature organisational structure and therefore experience an unbalanced workload is fragile. If the community fails to distribute workloads fairly within and the commitment of the sacrificing members is exhausted, it is likely to fall apart. Inspired by the self-organization phenomena in nature, we designed a tool that these communities can use to conceive strategies that contribute to autonomy and collaboration. For validation, we applied the tool to an industrial design student club. The results demonstrate that despite the differences between social and ecological systems, there is a potential to learn from nature to design for self-organized collaborative communities with the condition that one has sufficient knowledge about both the references and the design target. We also discuss the problem-solving and learning effects of the tool.

Keywords: Self-organization, Bio-inspired design / biomimetics, Design methodology, Participatory design, Organizational processes


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