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Product-Service Design for Immigrants


The paper analyzes the social landscapes that arise from the spontaneous configuration of groups that mingle with each other following the instinct of survival and a state of emergency, which configure no longer linear country borders but fluid ones.
In this context a form of widend multicultural social typology emerges, where the human dignity is founded on acts of solidarity that lead to radical changes.

The paper presents Product-Service Design for Immigrants case a product-services for immigrant populations that ensure the efficiency and widespread access to the healthcare system.
Through innovative strategies that have been able to peruse a new welfare concept based on the user’s active role in order to develop an integrated assistance in which the immigrant citizen becomes part of a healthcare course.
The project, for its development, requires the support of a new generation of services, products and communicative artifacts that play an important role in the Health Care System: prevention, monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.
In the healthcare field the use of ICT can be a useful tool to improve accessibility, to share data and information, for the implementation of health services already existing online, and to upgrade the performance of the whole system hence obtaining better results with less resources.
The project has set up a civic space like a platform to enable a dialogue between migrants and local health facilities establishing a digital context to receive, analyze and offer alternative models for assistance.

1. Multicultural breach

New social landscapes arise by spontaneous configuration of groups that mingle in areas easily accessible and affordable, functional nodes on the routes of illegal migration.

These “fall back lands” used to shelter and to organize their lives for emergency purposes, regulated by international agreements, lack in basilar human necessities. The social landscapes that emerge are the mirror of contemporary life: environmental disasters, poverty and war are the leading causes, from which a new way of life is developed, therefore a new social organization.
The “invisible multitudes” recover waste from western society, they draw from it resources to face issues, mitigate the disadvantages and adapt to change.
The new geography comes up with a new Europe seen as a continent with undefined borders, a single, huge city that embraces all the differences, allocated in mingled area.
The geographical mingled space of “Europe City” works today as a device that filters and organizes the movement and passages of migrant populations. This image of the continent that expands embracing new directions leads us to a mediterranized Europe; according to the idea of multicultural landscape as a mind place, by the plural character, such as the descriptions of Fernand Braudel (1998) of the Mediterranean.
In fact, the space of the “Europe Mediterranean City” is willing to embrace human landscapes and traditions, shaped by its various protagonists. The enlargement of the space spreads in peripheral and marginal zones, far and disconnected, revealing the ability to self-organization by spontaneous social groups. It concerns relational rules re-created and re-adapted by people within cultural social differences.
A new business model is outlined, based on the development of human skills, overcoming the capitalist model based on the values of each individual.
According to André Gorz (2004) society must focuses on the individual development, “one of the priorities will be to identify people and groups conveyed values and knowledge necessary for companies and institutions transformation” (p. 21).
The comparison is made between knowledge, value and capital, elements that guide us to understand the huge development of the knowledge economy along time; “knowledge is a practical skill, a know-how that does not necessarily involves delineate knowledge […], nor even the practical knowledge isn’t easily codified and cannot be learnt if not by practice and apprenticeship” (p. 22). This process involves the emancipation of human capital by the capital, according to A. Gorz (2004), an example is represented by the “craftsmen of free software and networks”(p. 22), that as holders of knowledge of high-level technical support, in opposition to the privatization of the access tools to a shared knowledge.
These tools are essential for the individual development in the human evolution from the “workforce” in “independent force” (p. 22): the software allows to generate contents accessible to all that have in usage unique value, bypassing the exchange value.

2. Sharing in emergency case

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) observed that in 2013 there was the most massive migrants movement across the Mediterranean: thirty-two thousand people landed in Italy, coming from Syria and North Africa require better migration managing through the prevention, protection and solidarity coordinated actions.
In this social context design strategies can realize integration between sustainable practices and innovative technologies and methods.
The strategic and services design are the disciplinary traces through which develop collaborative systems and experiment cooperative models, envisioning the managing social innovation demand (Cipolla, 2009).
Thanks new community forms, the individuals involved in process became actors. They identify flexible solutions, personalized and appropriate to their capabilities, testing the results and developing a new form of welfare (Cipolla & Manzini, 2009).
The promotion of a welcoming society, characterized by intercultural dialogue, social mediation and by the right to health, is the precondition of the research project Product-Service Design for Immigrants (PSDFI).
The design approach proposes to experiment new creative processes able to highlight the social issues, identifying opportunities and formulating possible solutions.
The development of solidarity and participation forms is a necessary condition to implement the design thinking methodological approach in new models (Brown, 2009).
According to recommendations of European legislation, in particular, the principles of the European Handbook on Integration (Niessen & Schibel, 2007), PSDFI intends to promote an easy access to welfare facilities for migrant communities and minorities thanks to a product-service system.
The PSDFI project aims to provide health care for immigrants with the creation of a services system that managed, in a platform, the information on the health condition, monitoring assistance forms and remote healthcare.
The main action is to create a multitasking network that is enable to capture and process data, to examine medical records pursuing a connection between public health operators, local actors, NGOs and immigrant populations.
In 2009, the project Mighealtnet, information network on good practice in health care for migrants and minorities in Europe, spread in 16 countries, has pursued a similar goal: to provide a services system for health care of the multicultural European population. Another project about the theme is: Healthy and Wealthy Together, promote by Municipality of Milano, that establish a thematic exchange network of public and private local actors working with or for migrants on the health and poverty issues.
The PSDFI project provides an intangible service for healthcare, associated to a wearable product, organizing the individual’s health information with the managing of clinical data; using RFID it is able to send data directly to the database. The wearable product is connected to the service platform, will be distribute to local reception centers for immigrants.
The site, that offers healthcare expertise, is a place to share and receive the requests and experiences spreading in user’s forum. The medical staff can access clinical data and update them as well as patients can check their portfolio and interact with an online expert 24 h/day.
The project promotes and facilitates the encounter between immigrant populations and families residing in the countries of origin through the online service (an interactive web site) that will provide information on health condition, and will allow to better understand which are the available organizations and resources. Information accessibility is guaranteed by actions of communication and awareness rising, provided in different languages (the partner countries and the countries from where migration to Italy originates).
The challenge is to demonstrate that using product-service design it is possible to ensure the efficiency of the Health System, a more widespread access to it, and to minimize public health costs.

The paper was written by the authors on the basis of mutual agreement and extensive discussions. Are related to the two authors jointly sections:

1. Multicultural breach, this paragraph was written by Maria Antonietta Sbordone.

2. Sharing in emergency case, this paragraph was written by Rosanna Veneziano.


Braudel, F. (1998). Les mémoires de la Méditerranée. Paris: Editions de Fallois.
Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Cipolla, C., & Manzini E. (2009). Relational services. Knowledge. Technology & Policy. (pp. 22, 45-50).
Cipolla, C. (2009). Relational services: service design fostering sustainability and new welfare models. In Silva, J., Moura, M., & dos Santos A. (orgs.) Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Sustainable Design (II ISSD) Brazil Network on Sustainable Design – RBDS, São Paulo, Brazil. Disponibile presso
Gorz, A. (2004). Métamorphoses du travail. Critique de la raison économique. Paris: Editions de Fallois.
Niessen, J., & Schibel, Y. (2007). Manuale sull’integrazione per i responsabili delle politiche di integrazione e gli operatori del settore, Commissione europea (direzione generale della Giustizia, della libertà e della sicurezza). Pubblications Europa. Disponibile presso

About the author(s):

Architect, Ph.D. in Industrial, Environmental and Urban Design, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at the Second University of Naples.

Architect, designer, assistant professor in Industrial And Fashion Design at the Second University of the Studies of Naples (SUN).

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