Design+Desires is a people centered urban research-and-do program which initiates various projects and activities on city making and beyond. Driven by a highly motivated and ambitious team of designers, architects and other professionals, Design+Desires is aiming to create innovative concepts for the city of the 21st century. Our tools are social quick scans, gamified polls, social media campaigns, personal interviews and design scenarios.

The city is on the move. Digital technology and social networks have drastically changed city life. New connections and relations are being established other than family, neighbours and work. Private and public merge. Citizens operate both locally as well as globally. Social networks become crucial and change the image and use of the city. In other words, the modern urbanite lives through virtual and real relationships in an increased fragmented society, which offers a range of problems, possibilities and opportunities. However, in top-down city planning citizens are perceived as abstractions, and the diversity of their dreams, desires and needs is heavily neglected.

There is a gap between strategy and tactics, between theory and practice, between the view of professionals and how citizens furnish their environment. Not hindered by rules and regulations, distance and historical ballast, social media are organizing daily life in such a way, that desires of citizens are satisfied and new desires bloom. Urbanites organize themselves through the interaction between the virtual and the real. The challenge of our times is to connect big data analytics to city dwellers’ shared emotional and practical needs and desires.

The program Design+Desires is aimed at this forementioned transformation process and connects this to the dreams and desires of citizens. The starting point is that their passions and ambitions already encapsulate new opportunities and possibilities. To capture these desires and wishes a unique research-and-do method is developed. Vision, innovative tools and creative translation are leading in this design research. Depending on each project and its affiliated team members, the relevant tools for this method will be selected. These tools (e.g. data quickscans, poll, design thinking) are being composed by the latest knowledge from various disciplines (e.g. sociology, city planning, economy, design) and will use the newest (digital) technologies, such as, big data, social media, and online platforms. 

Part of Design+Desires is Social City. This is an international think tank based on the dreams and desires which people all over the world can make clear via a playful, visual poll. By taking this poll, people can become an authentic resident of the virtual city. In particular, we ask not only what people want in practical terms, but we also aspire to connect to their emotional level. Therefore, we ask not only the “what” and the “how”, but more importantly also the “why” question: why they desire something. We place emphasis on the “why”, because it provides a tool to go deeper into the desires and aspirations of citizens and to discover and pinpoint shared desires. Together people will form a community of Social Citizens and together they will contribute to a growing database with a huge diversity of dreams and desires, which can be implemented into the projects of the Design+Desires program.

The passions and ambitions are the main focus in each international and local Design+Desires project. With the help of design thinking these will be creatively translated into innovative social concepts which will give input to processes in city planning and social infrastructure. The starting point is to create new, trans-local chances and opportunities, which as spin-off have a problem-solving capability for a specific area. Seemingly unbridgeable opposites are seen as chances, and diversity as a tool for innovation. Design+Desires creates a breeding ground for new understandings, products, services, organizations, models, research and events, which all start from and contribute to smart societies.

Design+Desires is a Droog program initiated by Renny Ramakers in collaboration with Mark van der Net (OSCity).