Chiara Del Gaudio is a designer, researcher and professor in design. She holds a PhD in Design from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) (2014), a MSc in Design and Engineering (2008) from Politecnico di Milano, and a Bachelor degree in Industrial Design (2005) from the same institution. She has been teaching design at both undergraduate and graduate levels since 2014, at first in Brazil at Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS), and from July 2019 as Assistant Professor at the School of Industrial Design of Carleton University.
Her education, as well as her practice, teaching and research experience blend insights from industrial design with participatory and strategic design approaches and methodologies, within an intercultural perspective.
After working as product designer, her design practice has been mainly related to the social and political dimension of design in projects happening at the intersection between university and local communities. In fact, she has been working on applied design research projects addressing more democratic and sustainable urban context and the improvement of local life conditions in poor urban areas. Since 2014, she has also been working as strategic consultant for small service and innovation enterprises in Brazil and coordinated multidisciplinary teams.
Prof. Del Gaudio’s main research and practice interests are on design as political process; participatory and collaborative design approaches, strategic design for social innovation, and power and conflict within design processes. Within this framework, her research mainly focuses on designers’ contribution towards more democratic scenarios. Specifically, she seeks to explore how designers can promote the conditions for them to happen. In this regard, at the current moment, she is researching into how to evolve the existing strategic design practice through the concepts of tactics, devices and strategies, and the theories of complexity. Moreover, she has been researching on the limits, challenges, and risks related to collaborative and participatory approaches when applied in the real world, mainly in conflict-affected and fragile urban areas; and the necessary conditions for this kind of design practice.
Based on this, since 2010 she has been involved in several research applied projects related to collaborative design and design social innovation practices, both business and social oriented. Among the most recent ones, she has been a designer and researcher in Brazil for Brunel University London in 2016 and 2017 within the research applied project named Visionarios da Cidade. The project is aimed at designing and piloting an educational programme for fostering design and socio-entrepreneurship skills in youngsters from poor urban areas, and to support them in designing new socio-entrepreneurship initiatives for their context. She was also a consultant and then project manager for SEBRAE (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas) within the research applied projects Transformando meu serviço (2015) – aimed at re-designing small-companies business and services, and promoting design skills – and Thinking Making Doing (2017). Transformando meu serviço aimed at re-designing small-companies business and services, and promoting design skills. Thinking Making Doing was aimed at promoting and supporting collaborative approaches and skills in existing small-companies, which aimed at fostering sustainable and social innovation processes within the local context.
From 2014 to 2019 she was member of the research group on strategic design for social and cultural innovation, and of the related SeedingLab, which is member of the DESIS Network. The research group and the laboratory investigate into strategic design driven processes and practices for cultural and social innovation that happen within and towards creative ecosystems and are oriented towards innovation and sustainability.
She is an active and growing member of the design research community at national and international levels. At the national level, in Brazil, she organized and re-designed the national Symposium on Sustainable Design in 2015 and 2017, as well she was invited for discussing and presenting her research in several national events and seminars, such as Entremeios (hold by ESDI-UERJ in Rio de Janeiro). At an international level, she has published in peer reviewed journals and she has been working with several members of the participatory design conference committee in activities aimed at fostering the discussion of emerging topics within that community (i.e. she recently edited a special issue on Design and Autonomía, published by the Strategic Design Research Journal). Moreover, she is program chair of the next Participatory Design Conference to be held in Colombia in 2020.
Finally, her research work was awarded twice with the “Prêmio Design Museu da Casa Brasileira”, which is the main Brazilian national award in design; and lately with the Brasil Design Award.