Reframing Lab – Border Sessions

Reframing Lab

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when creating them” – Albert Einstein

This spring, students of the Social Practices at the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA) were asked to unpack a variety of social challenges by re-imagining new perspectives from which to approach them. Is inclusive gentrification possible, or is it always an oxymoron? How do we move from individualism to the commons, from ‘me’ to ‘we’? Can the creation of new, contemporary rituals dispel taboos around aging, create agency for the sick and dying, or dismantle patriarchal structures that equate female hygiene to a shameful secret? Their applied investigations were informed by system analysis and the method of “reframing,” as developed by Kees Dorst: creating new frames of inquiry “focused not on the generation of solutions but on the ability to create new approached to the situation itself.”

Reframing Lab opens this process up to the public. A selection of sixteen student propositions will be flash-pitched to participants of the Reframing Lab. Together with guest critics Jeanne van Heeswijk and Emiliano Gandolfi, the public will help select five of the most interesting pitches, then participate in an interactive reframing workshop led by students and WdKA teachers (Madelinde Hageman, Boo van der Vlist) based on the method of Kees Dorst. The goal is to co-create new perspectives that are not just relationally poetic but also critically mature, even viable. 

Critics van Heeswijk and Gandolfi will offer guidance and feedback, while Kees Dorst will give a presentation on the theory and method behind reframing. Outcomes will be published at Beyond Social, an online platform developed by WdKA for the dissemination of research into social practice.

The WdKA Social Practices is an interdisciplinary graduation profile at the Willem de Kooning Academy, University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam. It focuses on the development of tools, approaches, attitudes, theories, systems, and possible solutions for wicked social problems. Check the WdKA website and Beyond Social for more info.


Kees Dorst was trained as an Industrial Design Engineer at Delft University of Technology, and studied Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Currently, he is Professor of Design Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney’s Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, and the founding director of the UTS Design Innovation and Designing Out Crime Research Centres. He lectures at universities and design schools throughout the world. He has published many articles and several books – including ‘Understanding Design’ (2006), ‘Design Expertise’(with Bryan Lawson, 2009), ‘Frame Innovation – create new thinking by design’ MIT Press (2015) ‘Designing for the Common Good’ (2016) and ‘Notes on Design – How Creative Practice Works’(2017).