Systemic design and Economy

Proceedings of RSD6, Relating Systems Thinking and Design 6
Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway  18th-20th October 2017


Other section relevant for the theme of economy




Uttishta Varanasi, Deergha Joshi, Akshay Yadav, Kamana Marwah, Aparajita Tiwari and Praveen Nahar: 
The Design of Design




The Design of Design

Uttishta Varanasi, Deergha Joshi, Akshay Yadav, Kamana Marwah, Aparajita Tiwari and Praveen Nahar.

Design thinking
What is the role of a designer? Is it the manipulation of the radii on the latest phone, which is to be replaced next year? Is making user friendly screens for “the next big thing”? Or is it dreaming up “the next big thing”? Is the role of the integrator of design, business and technology? Is the designer supposed to be a driver of flourishing democracies, communities and diverse environments?
The right answer is all of the above; and a lot more. 
The definition of design has been evolving from “aesthetic decoration” to “how a product looks, feels and works”; but a single sentence struggles to explain the scope and extent of what design can do. Design can be broadly defined as the act of creation, but even that falls short.
Since the industrial revolution our economies have been in a constant state of evolution; from mass manufactured products to a service based economy to the next major change. Economies have also been becoming more and more globalised. Alongside, the role of a designer has also evolved; from aesthetics to product differentiation. Still, there is a disconnect between the design fraternity and everyone else; something even designers fail to bridge. This is very evident in India, where design is mostly just seen as a beautification process.
India is also undergoing huge changes; from “Make in India”, to the developing startup culture across the nation. The massive rise and empowerment of the middle class has been an integral factor in facilitating these changes. The context with which India has to be designed, and designed for has evolved. Following a similar growth pattern to other developed countries in the west, or imitating China’s manufacturing success story cannot be India’s route to development. The qualitative aspects of our society must grow along with the quantitative growth of our economy; something that design can easily bring about.
Through our study, we probe into the various aspects of this evolving economy and the parallel changes in the role, perception and challenges for design and designers across the country.
We talk about the Indian context of redesigning design; from business innovation to societal transformation to design education. How the Indian concept of design needs to move beyond beautiful motifs, and delve into bigger questions; from the problems of education, policy making, rural livelihood, etc. 
Bringing these concepts into reality, we have created frameworks and triggers that aided local communities to understand and utilise design to solve issues. We provided platforms for both, designers and non-designers. We created a design student toolkit that aims to empower students to think beyond the hard skills they learn at a design school. We have also conducted workshops to educate students of backgrounds other than design on the possibilities of design; helping remove misconceptions on what design is capable of, and bettering the scope of meaningful collaborations. 
We looked at what designers know they are capable of; how can we facilitate a greater design fraternity; how to train more relevant designers, and empowering the masses with design.




Circular Economy for Food – A systemic interpretation of the circular economy through the holistic view of the gastronomic sciences.
Franco Fassio, Nadia Tecco
Systemic Food Design
Circular Economy
Gastronomic Sciences
Holistic vision
In order to talk about systemic approach applied to the food world it is a necessary to consider two important players involved in this process. The first one, the Slow Food movement, founded in 1989, an international association that works to safeguard biodiversity, to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, to counteract the rise of fast life and to combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Since its beginnings, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people over 160 countries, working to ensure everyone access to good, clean and fair food. The second one is the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) founded in 2004 by the first actor, Slow Food, in cooperation with the Italian region of Piedmont and Emilia Romagna. The main aim of UNISG is to create a new figure, the Gastronome, a new type of food professional, who learns about the entire food-production system, from agricultural origins through industrial transformation and distribution, with special attention to environmental and sustainability issues. 
Thanks to the strong theoretical contribution developed at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, in particular within the Systemic Food Design LAB (SFD LAB), and great application opportunities which is in the bosom of Slow Food, the systemic approach is spreading and evolving in all areas that are part of the agri-food system: from production to consumption, from the packaging to the food places until you get to the cultural events for the promotion of values of the food itself. In the context of the gastronomic sciences, a complex system where different kind of actors interact with each other, Systemic Food Design LAB has the objective of developing, at a theoretical and applied level, a systemic approach based on the construction of valuable, collaborative and sustainable relationships applied to food in all its many meanings. Starting from an analysis of the flow of matter, energy and knowledge within each system and between one system and another, we study the structure of the overall behaviour of interacting elements in order to design relationships of value that narrate a system quality. 
The systemic approach for Gastronomic Sciences is the glue that develops transdisciplinary systems, it is the builder of cultural bridges, it is a source of new perspectives, because the food system determines impact on the area and the community more than any other system 
In the context described above, Systemic Food Design LAB is developing a project named “Circular economy for Food”, a catalogue of existing national and international experiences and new perspectives of the Circular Economy declined in the world of food. The main objective is to analyse projects where the underlying principles of the Circular Economy are applied, and through the Systemic Food Design approach to give empirical contributions with developed, developing and transition perspectives. 
In addition, the project intends to observe through the systemic approach lens, the circular economy phenomenon, a first step towards a systemic vision, but that still has the defect to not change the hierarchical structure of the system. In fact, the main guideline of circular economy – a gap must be designed so that it can become an asset to another system – generated in the current industrial society, closed systems themselves (companies recover their waste expanding their offering , talk about efficiency, but in the meantime do not dialogue with others and thus a monopoly continues) or open systems (situations where multiple realities interact with each other, develop business relationships), but in both cases, the economic model is not questioned but simply tweaked the undeniable order of resources. This paper is going to present specific examples where the Circular Economy principles are applied in the food system (to and from the actors of the food system) and in the second part of the article we are going to analyze every single case in order to lay the groundwork for an evolution from the circular pattern to the systemic model in the complex world of gastronomic sciences


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Designing the Ecocene: Mapping the Political Economy of Design.
Joanna Boehnert
knowledge visualisation
ecological literacy
political economy

As the dynamics of the Anthropocene break planetary boundaries and create global instability with increasing risks to human civilisation, ecologically informed design strategies are in development. This movement in sustainable design must be accelerated. Design sits in a pivotal sense-making and change-making space to facilitate ecological transition – once informed by ecological literacy and critical perspectives. Yet while design has the potential to transform ways of living in emancipatory and sustainable ways, it is often involved in reproducing the unsustainable and in obfuscating power relations around this process. For this reason, critical thinking and attention to power and the political economy of design is a necessary part of creating conditions for redirected, regenerative design. 

The concept of the Ecocene (Boehnert 2018) describes an era of where the generation of new futures is driven by ecologically literate ways of knowing that inform the design of sustainable transitions. The Ecocene concept shifts focus from analysis of the problems to development of solutions. An ecologically viable future depends on a new understanding of human-nature relations and the design of new ways of living that emerge from this perspective. It also depends on designers with the critical capacities to identify unsustainable ideas, system structures, practices and products. Additionally, sustainable design and development require new agencies, process knowledge and practices. With these perspectives and types of knowledge, designers can work towards an Ecocene by propelling the cultural change necessary to survive and potentially flourish in the Anthropocene. 

One of the ways that design can do this work is with knowledge visualisation. The practice of knowledge visualisation facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations and learning on complex, multi-dimensional and often controversial problems as a prelude to the design of sustainable alternatives. It bridges disciplinary silos and sectors to address communication and learning challenges as it displays information of different types (temporal, geospatial, topical, statistical, networks) on various scales (micro, meso, macro). By visualising multi-faceted conceptual propositions, complex systems and future scenarios, knowledge visualisations can help designers help clarify system-level threats and opportunities to sustainable transitions. 

Despite process innovation and deepening and widening knowledge base, the design industry continues to struggle to contribute to slowing down and reversing the trajectory of accelerating planetary crises conditions. The political economy of design can be understood to include system-level obstacles that inhibit the wide-spread development of sustainable futures (Boehnert 2014). This paper will describe the early stages of a research project using knowledge visualisation practices to map the political economy of design. The research will use knowledge visualisation mapping practices with interdisciplinary groups to identify barriers and opportunities to and for sustainable transitions. It will provide an overview of the political and economic dynamics that are relevant to designers concerned with sustainability. The Mapping the Political Economy of Design project will make system structures visible while identifying spaces of intervention. New visual resources will help designers and policy makers respond to some of society’s most challenging problems with design and policy interventions. 

Boehnert, J (2014) Design vs. the Design Industry, Design Philosophy Papers. London: Bloomsbury, 12 (2), pp. 119–136. 
Boehnert, J. (2018) Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards the Ecocene. London: Bloomsbury.


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