RSD2 Proceedings

RSD2: Emerging Contexts for Systemic Design

Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2013 Symposium Proceedings

Editors: Birger Sevaldson, Peter Jones

Published by The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
ISBN: 978-82-547-0263-5

The Second Symposium of Relating Systems Thinking and Design was held in Oslo, Norway at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design 9-11 October, 2013.

The second Oslo symposium engaged over 120 participants in the emerging renaissance of systems thinking in design. The emerging context is being revealed in transdisciplinary responses to increasing complexity in all challenges faced by designers, innovators, and decision makers everywhere. Our worlds have become too complex for linear and goal-driven management, as the modern world is experiencing in hopelessly complicated social, economic, and political institutions. The global demand for sustainability, democratic economies, and better education, employment, and development has resulted in new movements, but perhaps insufficient redesign. The emerging social arrangements have become too complex for conventional thinking.

Sociotechnical, service, and activity systems are characterized by highly complex and emergent human-system relationships, and benefit from nonlinear and creative design practices and engaged research perspectives. Design practices found effective in fields such as healthcare, governance, environmental stewardship, organizational management and social change, are of particular interest for cases and discussion in the conference.

The interrelationship between systems thinking and design action was the theme of last years RSD seminar at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. In re-examining the relationship of systems thinking to design we believe it possible for systems thinking and design praxis to develop the foundations for new, interrelated practices. This synergistic relationship will launch a new generation of systems-oriented thinkers empowered with the creativity and perspectives of design thinking. As educators and researchers, we also seek better theoretical foundations and rigor in design thinking.

Systemic Design has been suggested as a term for this emerging movement in design with its multiple expressions including e.g. Systems Oriented Design, Whole Systems Design, and is closely related to Dialogic Design. What binds systems related theories and practices together with design approaches may be the desire to reintroduce systems approaches with design toward a more effective integrated praxis, becoming more useful to designers (and stakeholders and clients) than evidenced by past performance. This implies the reshaping and design of systems approaches and the related practices so that they are better integrated into design processes.

Papers and presentations were organized for the following themes:

  • New systemic practices in design
  • Rethinking systems approaches from a design perspective
  • Relating design praxis and systems thinking
  • The role of systemic design when developing design practices in new areas
  • Teaching (systemic design or), systems thinking in design. (or design in systems approaches)
  • Relating systems and design theories, conceptually and pragmatically

The 2013 RSD2 proceedings are provided in abstracts and PDF files. Follow the links below or choose from the menus.

These proceedings are the result of a dialogue and discursive process within the community of practice, more than that of a traditional scientific publication process. For the RSD2 symposium we called for long abstracts which were properly peer reviewed. We received about 60 abstracts and accepted 40%.The accepted authors were asked to submit draft presentations which were commented on by the organizing committee. After the symposium we invited all authors to develop their abstracts further to submit working papers. This was an opportunity to include inspirations from the symposium. The working papers have not been peer reviewed, and should be regarded as works in progress.

Two special issues of the design research journal FORMakademisk were published from the submitted and reviewed RSD2 papers: Theory issue and Practice issue.

In addition to the originally submitted abstracts the proceedings contains the working papers, the presentations and in some cases additional material like videos. Special thanks to Patricia Kambitsch, Playthink for the sketchnotes.

December 2013

Editorial Board: Birger Sevaldson, Peter Jones, Harold Nelson, Alex Ryan, Linda Blaasvær, Manuela Aguirre



Keynotes and Plenaries

Systems Theory and Design

Design Methods and Systems Thinking

Strategic Design and Social Systems

Systems Oriented Service Design

Teaching Systemic Design





Keynotes and Plenaries

Opening Plenary: Birger Sevaldson

Thursday Keynote: Fred CollopyDesigning Large Systems: Five Stories; Five Lessons

Book Launch:  Peter Jones –  Design Research for Human-Centred Healthcare

Friday Plenary: Harold Nelson: Unblocking the design mind; looking for AND rather than EITHER-OR

Friday Keynote:  Carlo Vezzoli  – System design for sustainable energy systems in emerging an low-income contexts.

 Systems Theory and Design

Wolfgang JonasThe strengths / limits of Systems Thinking denote the strengths / limits of Practice-Based Design Research

David Ing – Design Flaws and Service System Breakdowns: Learning from Systems Thinking

Donald Harker, Andrew McCollough and Deaunne DenmarkInterliminal Design: Mitigating Cognitive Bias-Induced Design Distortion

Julio Cesar Rivera Pedroza, José Rafael González and Bernabé Hernandis Ortuño – Analysis of contexts and conceptual variables for a sustainable approach into systemic model

Alex RyanA Theory of Systemic Design

Gabriel Schaffzin and Zachary KaiserDesigning systems for praxis and critical engagement in design education: the speculative design method and the revelation of theory through making

 Design Methods and Systems Thinking

GK VanPatter – Innovation Methods Mapping

Alex Ryan and Mark Leung – Systemic Design: Two Canadian Case Studies

Michel de BloisThe “self-organizing” project”: a “systemic” view of the design and project processes

Jodi Forlizzi – An Ecological View of Systems Design

Seila Cibele, Sitta Preto Cibele, and Ana Luisa Biavista Lustosa Cavalcante – The importance of systemic thinking for mapping and development in design

Sigrun Lurås and Kjetil Nordby – Radical design processes for systemic change

 Strategic Design and Social Systems

Jonathan VealeThe Civil Servant Systemic Designer: An emerging context for systemic design practice

Manuela Aguirre and Josina VinkTransforming Health Care Systems through Design

Karianne Rygh, Marc de Droog and Danielle Arets – Systemic Design Interventions: Using systems thinking and design thinking to intervene in systems

Linda BlaasværUnderstanding cultural differences

Maggie Ollove and Diala LteifIntegrating Storytelling into systems thinking to address conflict

 Systems Oriented Service Design

Benedicte Wildhagen, Knut Bang and Adrian PaulsenAttempting to fly: Deployment of system-oriented design methodology conducted by the Norwegian Design Council

John Darzentas & Jenny DarzentasOn the role of systems thinking in design and its application to public self-services

Eunki ChungDesigning Entanglement: Holistic approach to a new pattern of complexity in digital service design

Liliana Rodriguez and Carlos PeraltaFrom product to service design: A thinking paradigm shift

Ana Laura Rodrigues Santos and Linda S.G.L.Wauben – System Design Perspective of Healthcare Provision in Humanitarian Aid

Teaching Systemic Design

Praveen NaharTeaching systems thinking in design at National Institute of Design (NID) India

Gordon RowlandTeaching systemic design in the context of organizational communication

Andrea Resmini and Bertil Carlsson – Teaching Systems — Getting future IT entrepreneurs to see the full picture

Toni KauppilaDesignerLearner, Acting on the Uncertainty

Dinesh KorjanPlan D – Finding design solutions


1.  Doctoral Symposium Workshop,   Alex Ryan, PhD

2. The experience of becoming a member of a systemic design team,  Harold Nelson & Robert Sandusky

3. Language Patterns of Systemic Design: Designing with Dialogue,    Peter Jones

4. Dancing with Complexity,     Adrian Paulsen and Jonathan Romm

5.  Systems Thinking + Design Thinking,   Peter Coughlan and Colleen Ponto

6. Teaching Systems Thinking to Designers,   Birger Sevaldson