This paper was presented at the Design Research Society 2020 conference in August. The lead author, Viola Petrella is currently pursuing her doctorate degree at Northumbria University and is an active member of the DESIAP network. View the video presentation where Viola discuss mutuality and reciprocity as values driving relationships that enable and support design and social innovation processes.
Although the importance of interpersonal relationships to processes of design and social innovation (D&SI) has been acknowledged, there is limited research in identifying what constitutes a relational approach in D&SI. In spite of their importance for relationship formation and maintenance, questions of respect, reciprocity, power and trust –and their intersection with various cultural practices– are often left untouched in design discourse. This paper reports early findings from interviews with design and social innovation practitioners in the Asia Pacific region, detailing the significance of putting relationships first, establishing mutuality and building reciprocity. The paper contributes insights into how practitioners perceive relationships as both meaningful and essential and suggest areas for further research to develop a more nuanced understanding of relationships in D&SI.