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Mapping at National Institute of Design

by | Mar 2024 | Format: Maps & Exhibits, Mapping Mondays, RSD12, SDA blog, Topic: Mapping & Modelling

It is interesting to reflect upon systems mapping in the context of the National Institute of Design (NID), which has been integrating systems thinking and design into its curriculum for over four decades, with mapping featuring prominently in various courses and projects. The culmination of this approach is seen in the 10-week systems oriented design (SOD) project, offered to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, which emphasizes systems thinking in relation to design. This project explores design problems from macro to micro perspectives, preparing students to navigate ambiguity and complexity within local and global contexts while embracing a fluid, iterative, and transdisciplinary educational framework.

At NID, maps are crafted by senior undergraduate and postgraduate students as part of the deliverables for the 10-week SOD project, addressing a range of challenges and frameworks. These maps typically employ strong visual metaphors and central themes, reflecting the fuzzy, emergent, and iterative nature of the design process, and encompass various data, information, and outcomes in forms such as metaphors, tools, infographics, idea visualizations, future scenarios, and perspectives from multiple stakeholders. They serve to foster understanding at both micro and macro levels, utilized in reviews, juries, project dissemination, and participatory workshops involving multiple stakeholders (

Initially known simply as systems maps or complexity maps at NID, the adoption of the term “gigamaps” was influenced by discoveries at the RSD2 conference in Oslo in 2012, where similar synthesis approaches were observed at OCADU and the Oslo School of Architecture & Design (AHO). Professor Birger Sevaldson’s analysis of mapping styles has contributed to the emergence of gigamaps as a generic term for SOD mapping, although NID encourages students to explore multiple formats, sometimes with strong metaphors.

Mapping practices across NID, AHO, and OCADU differ in context, course types, duration, and utilization, with some employing mapping as a process and synthesis tool, while others see it as an outcome. Nonetheless, witnessing the evolution of mapping techniques and the enthusiastic embrace of these practices by successive generations of students has been a rewarding journey for all involved.

Related RSD2 article

Praveen Nahar is the Director of the National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad, with its extension campuses in Gandhinagar and Bengaluru. He has also been a faculty member in the Product Design discipline at NID since 2002. Full profile.

National Institute of Design Maps


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