Allopoietic Design: Designing of the not-thing

Format: Papers, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Tore Gulden

In this article, I explore allopoietic systemic design as a perspective and process.

Allopoietic systems are understood as systems that produce something other than the systems themselves. Hence, an orientation of allopoietic design is then not on the making of the thing but on what the thing produces. The produced systems could be quarrels, engagement, teaming up, deceptive behaviour, cooperation, and, hence, activation in general and the history of these praxes. The emphasis of the allopoietic design perspective is thus on the elicitation of praxes (behaviour and thinking) and the subsequent feelings elicited.

The allopoietic view involves parting with the “meaninglessness of physical properties” (Krippendorff, 2007) and products and services, and instead of studying them as interfaces (Krippendorff, 2007) and thus platforms for communication dynamics. By extension also proceeds the understanding of the user or the users (Krippendorff, 2007) that has inspired the development of misleading emphatic design methods inspired from algorithms, such as a persona.

Service design functioning is analysed in relation to play and game dynamics and progression (control) and emergence (autonomous) structure platforms, and I discuss how the notion of service design should be replaced with the notion of the framing of progression and emergence interfaces.

Keywords: systemic design, service design, game dynamics, play, allopoietic design, progression interfaces, emergence interfaces, and framing

Citation Data

Author(s): Tore Gulden
Title: Allopoietic Design: Designing of the not-thing
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 3 September 2021
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested citation format (APA)

Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

Publishing with RSD

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

The Organising Committee reviews and assesses workshops and systems maps & exhibits with input from reviewers and the Programme Committee.

Editor: Cheryl May
Peter Jones
Ben Sweeting

The Scholars Spiral

In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

The Systemic Design Association's membership ethos is to co-create the socialization and support for all members to contribute their work, find feedback and collaboration where needed, and pursue their pathways toward research and practice outcomes that naturally build a vital design field for the future.


Verified by MonsterInsights