Dr Wina Smeenk has been professor of Societal Impact Design since January 2021 and is part of the Creative Business Research Centre. She works for parties such as Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Amsterdam, SLUISLab Amsterdam and Sustainable Media Lab . The empathic co-design compass that she developed, as well as her mixed-perspectives methodologies and empathic handover method, will enable her to continue assisting the lab’s research work and reinforcing the lab’s design team. The ultimate aim is to create an inclusive city in which tourism and quality of life are in balance.
Wina is founder and primus inter pares of Expert Network for Systemic Co-design (ESC).
Co-design is an inherent part of a collaborative effort. Professor Wina Smeenk is keen to invite all those involved to come up with social innovations for the city. Meaningful design solutions can only be devised once the various perspectives (you, those actually involved and external experts) are represented. In the context of the lab, this automatically implies the involvement of residents, visitors, students, authorities and other for-profit and non-profit organisations.
Societal challenges are urgent and affect everyone, including politicians, citizens, government officials, business professionals, NGOs, designers and researchers. Understanding and addressing these challenges is difficult because no single stakeholder or organisation is solely responsible. Everything is interconnected and constantly changing, resulting in challenges being neglected and stakeholders being unable or unwilling to make important decisions.
The Co-Design Canvas is a practical and user-friendly tool that supports flexible planning, conducting, and evaluating of co-design processes for multi-stakeholder coalitions and facilitators. The Canvas:
In Wina Smeenk’s inaugural lecture, she explained how creative professionals can make a significant contribution to the approach to social problems. The world is changing, Wina states, and we all need to join forces to ensure that it moves in the right direction. Keen to find out more? Download and read the English inaugural lecture here or watch the lecture in the video below (Dutch spoken).
The transition to a sustainable society is often seen as a challenge that is too complex to even contribute anything yourself. In her interview with Kees Klomp, Wina explains why this does not need to be the case if we apply the principles used in the design world. By doing so, we can create a society that works for everyone. Watch the video with English subtitles below or read the interview (written in Dutch).
Wina Smeenk works as a professor at Inholland University of Applied Sciences. She is also heavily engaged in professional practice, carrying out assignments through her own innovation and co-design studio, WiEN’s ontwerperschap. She has used her empathetic co-design methods to better understand people with dementia, for instance. But she has also used her method for such things as developing a smart residential and business district.
Wina Smeenk studied Industrial Design at Delft University of Technology, where she specialised in innovation management and user-centred design, focusing on vulnerable groups in particular. She has worked as a designer and innovation strategist for a range of companies. She soon started combining this with roles in education. For example, she helped build the Faculty of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology in the capacity of programme and domain manager.
She set up her own co-design consultancy firm in 2010 to help clients with social innovation processes. In 2019, as an external doctoral student at Eindhoven University of Technology, she published her thesis, Navigating Empathy, on practical and student case studies revolving around her empathetic methods in co-design. In 2022, she co-wrote Design Play Change with Agnes Willenborg.
Wina is married with two children and feels at home in the creative village of Broek in Waterland in the province of North Holland.
"Involve all relevant parties in your design solution and, above all, do not forget the vulnerable groups."
Wina forms part of the Expert network for Systemic Co-design (ESC). In this network, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences - supported by funding from SIA-SPRONG - have teamed up, together with workfield and other partners, to do design-oriented research into methods of expediting societal transitions.
Wina set up this network together with six professors from our collaborating universities of applied sciences in order to develop a collective approach of this nature. Based on specific case studies, we will be spending eight years exploring which approach will provide the best support when it comes to uncertain change processes.