Lara Penin

United States
Director of Transdisciplinary Design,
 Parsons School of Design

Lara Penin is Director of Transdisciplinary Design Graduate Program at Parsons School of Design, The New School. She is an Associate Professor of Transdisciplinary Design and a co-founder of Parsons DESIS Lab, a multidisciplinary research lab at the intersection of service design, social innovation and sustainable practices.

Her work looks on how service design can effect positive social change towards sustainability while bridging the gap between the innovation of design pedagogy and practice. She received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts. An extensive publishing record includes authorship of ‘An Introduction to Service Design. Designing the Invisible’; a comprehensive introduction to designing services according to the needs of the customer or participants, addressing a new and emerging field of design and the disciplines that feed and result from it.

Lara holds a PhD in Industrial Design from Milan Polytechnic University and a BA in Architecture and Urbanism from the University of São Paulo.

Keynote: Friday, June 14th 9:15
‘Services are the soft infrastructure of society’

The motivations for practicing service design almost certainly involve the desire to understand the complexity of human situations and to develop capabilities to change existing conditions into preferred ones. Services can be characterised by care just as easily as they can be marked by exploitation. The performances of both service providers and the users of these services generate interactive and relational experiences that connect people to one another and to the world and its artificial infrastructure.

Service designers actively engage these social worlds and, in doing so, are tasked with addressing political, environmental, cultural, and economic challenges. With these issues in mind, Lara Penin will share with you foundational service design principles using project examples from her book ‘An Introduction to Service-Designing the Invisible’ and will situate service design as a reflexive and caring practice that is well-equipped to address complex social situations.

Lara will be joined by Barbara Adams (PhD in Design, Wesleyan University) and together, they will offer a reflection on competencies that can support you in exploring and leveraging the central and critical role of front-line service sector labourers through experimentation with methods that foster deep learning and ethical practices.