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Five presentations represent a range of metaphor approaches in mapping socioecological design projects. Locally Grown (Visser) maps the spaces between the elements to explore systemic design interventions in human hair waste. The four National Institute of Design projects (Sipani et al., Guru & Mandlik, Rajan & Sasikumar, Parvathi & Babu) represent the consistently high graphic standard applied to exploring the design space through mapping and deep engagement with the subject.


Preksha Sipani, Geetanjali Khanna, Rucha Dave, Himanshu Chandrikapure, and Ajinkya Balachandran | The Silent Crisis: Unravelling the complexities of biodiversity loss

Ananya Guru and Neha Mandlik | Residue to Resource

Sanne Visser | Locally Grown: Mapping the spaces between the elements of a hyperlocal human hair waste ecosystem

Rachel Mary Rajan and Abhijith Sasikumar | Untwining Coir: Understanding the coir industries in Kerala

Parvathi B S and Bibin Babu B S | Unearthing Hidden Treasures: Waste management in urban cities through value generation from the discarded


Birger Sevaldson | Oslo School of Architecture and Design


Ryan Murphy |

Note: This is an audio recording with the speakers’ names and maps (there is a short segment of introductory music). The presentation decks are below and maps and their briefs can be accessed via their articles. To see the papers and read the briefs, see the Mapping socioecological design articles.

I remember one comment I had—it’s for all of all of you. I think it was the first project that said the process became very messy … this is very important because when you work with very complex systems, and systemic design with very complex systems, it can’t avoid getting messy, you cannot have very orderly processes, because this, the mess is sort of part of the reality … And there’s this kind of tension between communicating clearly and having this messy process and to what degree do we really like this messy process to shine through to the gigamap? Can the gigamap be a false impression if it’s very orderly? I really loved that moment when you said it became very messy. I would be very, very worried if it wasn’t. —Birger Sevaldson


Mapping Mondays: Socioecological design summary

Creating a map to understand biodiversity loss. 5:42

Researchers used a collaborative approach to create a map of ecological and human activities in India, validating assumptions through interviews and field visits.

Researchers identify patterns in how biodiversity loss affects indigenous cultures in India.

The presenter offers a visual representation of their team’s narrative, highlighting the importance of biodiversity and the costs of neglecting it.

The team shares a case study of a village’s biodiversity loss and how it affects the local ecosystem, emphasising the need for empathy and personal stories in the narrative.

Sustainable production and consumption in the furniture industry. 12:55

The project aims to optimise industrial practices for sustainable growth while minimising environmental impact.

Students analysed the furniture industry in India, focusing on M/SMEs, to reduce dependency on virgin wood.

Stakeholders in the supply chain include furniture manufacturers, engineers, and raw material processing units.

Hair waste recycling with stakeholders. 20:05

The researcher investigated the potential of human hair waste for circular and regenerative materials, mapping local hairdressers’ processes and leverage points for systemic design intervention.

Coconut and cocoa industry in Kerala, India. 28:44

Coconut production in Kerala has been declining due to land fragmentation and lack of classification as a plantation crop.

India’s coconut and cocoa industry faces procurement and marketing challenges despite 70% of exports being core and coil fibre.

The team identified three major problems in the furniture industry in Kerala: high wages, lack of an organised collection system, and no value addition.

They proposed interventions such as setting up a public-private enterprise, integrating existing systems, and using natural resin instead of formaldehyde to make eco-friendly products.

Waste management in urban cities. 35:09

The presenter discusses the trigger for their research on waste management in urban cities, including a landfill fire in Kochi, India, the impact on the city’s population, and the importance of understanding the metrics of influence in waste management systems, including identifying stakeholders and mapping existing systems.

The team visited private organisations and waste collectors to learn about their work and how they interact with the community.

The group’s process for generating ideas for a sustainable future included mapping subtopics and involving diverse perspectives.

The group developed three solution systems, including a proposal for a base collector’s card for uniform collectors and the concept of polishing diamonds to create value.

Mapping, systems thinking and complex systems. 42:56

Birger Sevaldson comments:

  • Acknowledging that several maps serve as visual aids and maps, essentially communication devices.
  • The importance of mapping in understanding systems and communication.
  • An “orchestra of interventions” and their cultural considerations are noted as a good way to think about mapping.
  • Emphasises the importance of being honest about the messy process of systems design, even if it doesn’t fit the traditional image of a neat and orderly map.
  • Sevaldson recalls a comment from a previous project in which the process became very messy. This highlights the tension between communicating clearly and showcasing the messy process in a final product.
  • Suggests using a layered approach to reading maps to facilitate understanding.


Cheryl May:

Thanks to everyone who joined today and the presenters for this wonderful walk through their mapping work. Also, the donors and supporters who have allowed SDA to meet the goal to support hosting online sessions throughout the year—and Birger Sevaldson for a thoughtful discussion.

Acknowledging Systemic Design Association board members in attendance—Marie Davidová and Ryan Murphy—for their continuous care for this community and for establishing a systemic design corpus.

Thanks to RSD13 Chair Birger Sevaldson for joining.

Thoughts and references

Ryan: The interplay between digital and physical as these works progress is super cool

Goran: A fascinating invitation to expand our awareness of what might constitute a ‘resource’ – as part of shifting our perspectives towards circular economies

Rosie: I think it is so interesting to think always who is the audience for the map… one question that keeps coming up, particularly in doctoral research, how we ‘fit’ complex maps within conventional sizes, the format of the thesis, and make it possible for people in different environments and contexts to ‘read’ the map (on screen / on paper / in a workshop) etc

Birger: [referenced] Giere, R. N. (1991). Understanding Scientific Reasoning. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc.

Sketchnote for socioecological design mapping session

Sketchnote courtesy of Aditi Shinde. @ditiiee


Final submissions are due on
April 30

Open call for Reviewers
April 1–30

Feedback to authors
June 30

sessions OCTOBER 16–18

RSD13-OSLO & Nordmarka Forest October 22–26

Lidar-derived image of the Danube River and floodplain near Tulln, Austria. Daniel Coe. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

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