What is Systemic Design?
The Systemic Design Lab is a cross-departmental design lab which is aimed at developing and applying knowledge about the role of design - both the artefact and the process - in generating systemic change within society. The complex challenges that society is facing regarding, for example, health, safety and sustainability, require innovative approaches that can help society transition towards more sustainable futures. In our lab we are particularly interested in theory and methodology that combine systems and transition thinking with design in order to humanize the systems that support our collective life.
1) Embracing complex dynamics
When dealing with societal issues, we deal with complex and dynamic systems. This means that when we wish to use design to impact such issues for the betterment, we need to learn about such complex dynamics and how to affect it. What can we learn from systems thinking and modelling to help us intervene effectively and appropriately through design?
Reframing is an important skill of a designer. It is even said to be the key contribution of designers when dealing with complex societal issues. Reframing and design thinking, they are often-used terms to indicate the power of design. But what is reframing exactly, and what is its value in transition processes?
3) Working transdisciplinary
Design is a discipline that borrows insights from many other disciplines. It is integrative by nature. Nevertheless, design is not the answer to everything. To deal with our societal challenges effectively, we should open up to other disciplines and learn together. What is the role of the designer in such collaboration and what are our limits?
Large scale impact does not follow automatically after brilliant design. To generate change, stakeholders need to get ownership: of the problem, in the process and of the outcome. Though design is an expertise in itself. How to organise co-creation that does justice to everyone’s expertise?
5) Behaviour change
Changes in perspective, mindset, norms, beliefs, attitudes; they mean nothing when behaviour doesn’t change. We can only say we made a change, when people act differently then before we intervened. So how to integrate knowledge on behaviour change within our design and how to assess our impact?