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Four projects from the National Institute of Design (India) represent contemporary exemplars of the metaphor style. They incorporate vivid graphics and extended formats to illustrate the factors found in child abandonment in India (Arangath), the life of a trans person in India (Jain), unsustainable loops (Moopan), and consumerism (Nath & Landge). These maps combine information density with detailed and expertly executed graphics.


Parvathy Arangath | A Systemic Study on India’s Child Abandonment Crisis

Animesh Jain | Transcending Dualities of Gender: Mapping factors influencing the life of a trans person in India

Imtiaz Ali Moopan | The Unsustainable Loop Of Sustainability: The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it

Gagarina Nath and Mohnish Landge | The Tower of Consumerism in India: Consumerism and its impact on socioeconomic growth and environmental sustainability in India


Mari Souheimo | Oslo School of Architecture & Design

Peter Jones | OCADU and Tec de Monterrey


Aakash Bhadra


Aditi Shinde | Instagram @ditiiee 


Cheryl May |

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We had referred to the book by Peter Jones [Design Journeys through Complex Systems]. And I think we are really grateful that allowed us to navigate through our entire system design and bring it to a particular structure. So we took the help of all the seven steps that are in the booklet type, from listening to the system to understanding it, and then transcending it towards the end to bring it to kind of solutions. I think mostly, that book has helped us a lot in bringing, giving a structured flow into our the chaos of our thoughts when we were starting out. Apart from that, we have also followed some basic structures that NID mostly implements, like the PESTLE framework initially to understand how do we look into the different nuances of this system, right, from environmental, economic, social, political, and all the aspects of it. —Gagarina Nath, The Tower of Consumerism





Mapping Mondays: About our Lives Summary

AI generated, human edited by Cheryl May

Gender identity, stigma, and empowerment in India. 0:00

Tanvi Palkar explains that the Researchers used mind maps and surveys to understand gender concepts and mapped the experiences of trans individuals in India, identifying themes like gender dysphoria and coming out.

The resulting gigamap aims to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, highlighting their life journeys and the factors that shape their path towards dignity.

Child abandonment in India using systems thinking. 4:54

Parvathy Arangath explains the context of the child abandonment crisis in India, citing a UNICEF study showing 30 million abandoned children in 2023.

The research process involved secondary research, primary user interviews, and site visits to orphanages to understand socio-cultural factors contributing to child abandonment.

The researchers conducted desk and primary research on child abandonment across India and identified staggering insights into the causes of abandonment, including the disproportionate number of female children abandoned and their vulnerability to sex trafficking and begging rackets.

The researchers used various frameworks and system mapping techniques to understand the broader issue of human abandonment, including emotional abandonment, and how it affects different age groups, including children and the elderly.

Child abandonment in India using gigamapping. 9:54

Design students analyse causal maps to identify leverage points for addressing the crisis of abandoned children.

The presentation explores the issue of child abandonment in India through a Giga mapping style visual aid, highlighting the various causes and consequences of the crisis.

Parvathy emphasises the need for awareness and change in society to address the growing number of abandoned children in India.

Unsustainable global sustainability and breaking the loop. 14:14

Sandhya Variar describes the project goal of uncovering wicked loops of unsustainable practices in the Indian context.

The researchers conclude that sustainability is an illusion that can be broken by changing perspectives. Intervention areas include behaviour change and design process integration.

Consumerism’s impact on India’s growth and sustainability. 19:29

Gagarina Nath discusses consumerism in India, highlighting its impact on socio-economic growth and environmental sustainability, and explores the factors that contribute to it, including inequality and industrialisation.

The researchers created a system map to illustrate the causal relations between components involved in consumerism and examined case studies to understand its roots in India, including the degradation of natural resources and social stratification.

Reference to Donella Meadows’ leverage points framework, which was used to identify potential solutions for a dystopian reality and pave the way for desired futures.

The presenter highlights the importance of personal values and minimalism in contrast to consumerism and its negative impact on society and how the donor economic model can help ensure everyone has access to essential resources while staying within environmental limits.

Commenter segment. 25:21

Mari Sueheimo shares her background in service design, including her experience living in Brazil and Africa and how she incorporates a systemic lens into her work.

Child abandonment crisis and mapping stakeholders. 27:30

Mrunal Deshmukh describes the challenges of mapping the LGBTQ+ community in India, emphasising emotional representation and user participation.

Mari discusses the presentation on the child abandonment crisis, highlighting diverse angles and stakeholder involvement.

Using causal mapping to identify stakeholders in a social issue. 31:56

Parvathy describes how the team used research findings to identify stakeholders and assign power hierarchy for leverage points in addressing human abandonment.

Team collected data on causes of poverty in a community, but haven’t shared the findings with the community yet.

Sustainability and breaking unsustainable loops. 35:47

Mari and Sandhya Variar discuss sustainability and breaking unsustainable loops, sharing insights on designing with sustainability in mind.

Discussion about the continuation of exploitative practices in the global economy, likening it to a new form of colonialism.

Mapping and presenting complex problems. 39:29

Peter Jones praises the selection of maps, noting their visual storytelling and problem-solving proposals.

Discussion about sharing maps with wider communities beyond direct stakeholders, exploring opportunities for presentation and impact; and how maps might reach communities, including feedback for narratives.

Tanvi discussed online vs. physical locations for map exhibits and immersive experiences.

Consumerism and mapping systems. 46:35

Mari appreciated the presentation on the tower of consumers and the timeline of environmental challenges and asked how users were involved in the process.

Amandeep Singh explained that the group engaged with a lot of stakeholders, including consumers and subject matter experts, to validate their map and share it with the community through presentations and competitions.

Presenters shared their experience using the mapping to understand a complex system, referencing a book by Peter Jones and following basic structures like the PESTLE framework.

Learning and adapting to complex topics. 52:42

Mrunal Deshmukh discusses the importance of learning on the fly and adapting to the complexity of a topic, using a gigamap to organise information, the nature of the information collected, and how it was encapsulated in a time-sensitive project.


Cheryl May:

Thanks to the 15 donors and five supporters who contributed 67 CDN. These small personal contributions mean that we will meet our goal to have the funds available to support hosting online sessions throughout the year.

Acknowledging Systemic Design Association board member and co-founder in attendance—Peter Jones—for his continuous care for this community and for establishing a systemic design corpus.

Closing thoughts

Mrunal Deshmukh: I have a thought. So the way, at least in my experience, to what I understand the way we have dealt with the topic in NID, a lot of it is, you know, learning on the fly. So, a lot of models, even though you read about them and want to study and incorporate them into your process, because of the complexity of the topic, don’t necessarily fit. The learning in this process, for me, I would say, was how you can learn from everything and still adapt it to the topic and the complexity that you’re dealing with. I think systems actually help you to broaden your mind to it and be able to put it down in a very tactile form, like a gigamap.

Aakash Bhadra: That’s good to know. I was thinking of the system’s way of mapping as the management aspect of mapping—fitting it to the management lens. We [designers/researchers] come up against this. It’s not well designed, but it’s it’s in its raw form so that you can add to it. Did you have any experiences with that? And how did you adapt and, and was at a point that made you feel that’s how it should be?

Mrunal Deshmukh: I think a lot of it is on the information that you collect and the nature of it. So, it was purely on the basis of what we could find. And since, again, it was a very time-sensitive sort of a project was in about eight to 12 weeks, it’s encapsulating all those learnings in the best possible way.


RSD 12 Sketchnote for 11th March 2024

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