Design for Democracy

Aslak Sødal 17368 assignsubmission file SKjera Tønsberg Map Final web

(Skjer'a Tønsberg Aslak Sødal 2016)

Design for Democracy is an education-based research program that started in the fall of 2016, but there were several projects that predated it.

The aim of the project is to develop the next generation of Design for Democracy. We think developing democracy is about practice and culturing rather than about theory. In short, it is about design. Design can play a crucial role in the development of the next generation of democracy.

Here is the link to the democracy files, a collection of resources regarding Design for Democracy.


A respocitory of sources to read up on the theme of democracy. Under construction



The master projects


Want to study Design for Democracy?



Design for Democracy is not new and we think we need to build on the existing work. But this needs to be developed further. Victor Margolin has been important in maintaining the agenda and provides an excellent overview in this lecture from 2012.


Victor Margolin: Democracy and Design in a Troubled World


The research project is in its initial phases based on the explorative research by design of the master students at AHO. The project is based on master studio courses, designed as education based research, in its built up phase. 

A larger dialogue was initiated with the 2017 RSD6 (Relating Systems Thinking and Design 6) Symposium at AHO 18th to 20th October  Read more here: >>>>>

Also we are contributing to the DEMOCRACY AND DESIGN PLATFORM initiative.

Read more about news, information, links and projects in the blog below. Any comments or initiatives for collaboration are welcome.


Advisory Council


Harold Nelson

Benedicte Wildhagen, Norwegian Design Council ( 





Democracy "Gigamapped"

This looks very much like Gigamapping.

Explaining forms of democracy

Call for Action

Open Letter to the Design Community: Stand up for Democracy

Ezio Manzini and Victor Margolin

IMG 4771


Read more about our course and R&D on Design for Democracy here  >>>>>

Design for Democracy, Course Description

Systems Oriented Design: “Design for Democracy “

Scope: 24 ETCS

Institute for Design

Oslo School of Architecture and Design


Do you want to take this course?

Please see for application.

The course runs autumn 2017. Most likely it will be running again autumn 2018.

Requirements: You need to have a bachelor in design or architecture or similar education that will be accepted by the Oslo School of Architecture. You can either join this course as an exchange student or apply for the master studies at AHO. Please contact the AHO study administration 

The Design for democracy course is part of the Institute of Design.

We are accepting students from all institutes to this course



Course Description

This course description is based on the 2016 Design for Democracy Studio and future studio courses might differ.

Language: The course is taught in English

Professor in charge: Birger Sevaldson / Linda Blaasvær

Prerequisites: Bachelor degree or equivalent in design or architecture

Recommended previous knowledge: Completed first year of master level education



Design for Democracy Tønsberg Seminar

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19th April We were arranging a seminar as a follow up for the municipality of Tønsberg. About 25 busy staff attended the seminar which we found wonderful. In the middle sits Cathrine Heisholt who has been following the project closely and Geir Viksand, director (Rådmann) of Tønsberg Municipality.


Melina presenting in Tønsberg

Melina Hozhabri presenting her project on empathy to the audience.

After her Simon Sandovall presented his project "A Bridge Between People".

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Alfred Clatworthy Holmen from Designit participated. He also presented two earlier projects he did as a student with Svelvik Municipality. >>>>>

After him Linda Blaasvær presented Marie Løkens project Folketråkk. And Birger Sevaldson presented Christopher Pearsell-Ross' project Future Fest.

The feedback from the audience was that this was highly relevant and interesting. After the presentations we had a short workshop for generating ideas for participation and democracy.

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Melina facilitating one of the workshops

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The workshops though short and superficial because of the time-frame generated eager discussions and participations. Hopefully it contributes to trigger a process. We realize that this is work with a long horizon and that there are many issues to relate to and other discussion and ways of democracy to develop in the future.

We intend to work on with Tønsberg since both parts have now reached a bit further in knowledge and experience since we started.

Thanks to all the presenters and to Tønsberg Municipality!

The Democracy Files

The Democracy Files is a resource of collected articles about democracy seen from the perspectives of us as designers. It does not claim to be a collection of fullfilling texts judged from the view of lets say political science. The files are under construction and we hope to be able to sort the sources in a way that makes them especially useful for people engaged in design for democracy.

The collection is put together by Harold Nelson and Birger Sevaldson with input from others. Please help with collecting relevant and important texts by sending them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have contributions and comments we are more than happy to receive them.


(According to Ezio Manzini based on Victor Margolin)


1) Design of democracy:

It addresses the structural elements that function as frames and regulators of human action in a democratic system. It focuses on institutions (as: branches of government, agencies, bureaus, courts, and offices) and procedures (such as: laws, regulations, rules, and protocols).

2) Design for democracy:

it increases the opportunities for citizens to participate in deliberative processes. It focuses on transparency (which enables citizens to be aware of the on-going process of governance) and deliberative methods (which means the opportunity to be better involved in decision making processes).

3) Design as democracy: (added by Manzini)

it sets a stage on which diverse actors can come together and democratically collaborate in shaping their present and future world. It engages diverse people and publics in co-design and co-production processes concerning different aspects of their everyday life.

4) Design in democracy:

It refers to all the design initiatives that are particularly responsive to the goals of democracy. It may deal with the provision of human rights, and fundamental freedoms (such as access to food, shelter, health care, and education) and, more in general, with the transition towards a more resilient, fair and sustainable society.

Read here: >>>>>