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Turin, Italy

Systemic design for territorial enhance­ment and industrial innovation

Upheavals in geopolitical tensions, climate change, and technology advancements radically affect networks and value chains. In Italy, these macro-trends, and the resulting transformations, are being met with strategic innovation and design-led approaches—with the aim of bringing value back to the territories, preserving their cultures and creating resilient ecosystems. Systemic design, as a framework capable of holding geospatial economic development with locality, can be the key to localising systemic change within the driving context of regional economics.


In their RSD7 article, Systemic Design for Sustainable Territorial Development, Chiara Battistoni and Silvia Barbero frame what’s needed for an ecosystem to support autopoietic local economies. Five years later, at RSD12, we are holding space to explore current developments and considering how might systemic design initiate and support structural changes by valuing territorial/regional assets, whether historically rooted or yet to be unlocked, to design solutions specifically tailored for these contexts.
Systemic design can provide an answer to creating eco-innovation and environmental, social and economic sustainability, especially at the local level. (Battistoni & Barbero, 2018)


Localising systemic change will delve into work integrating spatial thinking and analysis with systems thinking and design principles. These approaches often employ geospatial data and technologies; however, location, size, history, and culture can influence systems’ behaviours, interactions, and dynamics, and design brings an integrated and holistic perspective to territorial enhancement and industrial innovation.


The Sys Lab team has developed a methodology combining a design vision with an interest in analysing, exploring, and developing complex systems in response to wicked problems. Building on well-established systemic design models, the Sys_Lab methodology observes five steps when approaching complex scenarios holistically. These steps also support active cooperation among stakeholders.

  • The holistic diagnosis of the current scenario, considering both the surrounding context and the flows of energy and matter
  • The identification of challenges and opportunities of the current scenario and its flows
  • The design of a new systemic model based on relationships between processes and actors, which optimises information, energy and material flows and gives value to waste as resources
  • The identification and study of the new outcomes generated by the new systemic model
  • The validation of the system by demonstrating its feasibility and by implementing the project in the specific context

Adapted from

Battistoni, C. & Barbero, S. (2018). Systemic Design for Sustainable Territorial Development. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD7.

systemic design lab


Eliana Ferrulli |

Mariapaola Puglielli |


Silvia Barbero |


Sara Fortunati |

circolo del design

Sys Lab is a research group at the Politecnico di Torino that has been exploring systemic design methods and tools for sustainability and the Circular Economy for over 10 years.

Circolo del Design nurtures and spreads the culture of design, helping to strengthen the local design system and promoting connections between design skills and the productive, social and cultural world.

RSD12-Turin hosts the exhibition May Contain Traces of Forest, a project by Circolo del Design, curated by Elisabetta Donati de Conti and Giorgio Vacchiano.

This is the second RSD symposium hosted by Politecnico di Torino. The RSD7 symposium was held at the Politecnico di Torino from October 23–28, 2018. This symposium launched the official establishment of the Systemic Design Association and a new phase in the advancement of systemic design as an interdiscipline.

Challenging Complexity by Systemic Design towards Sustainability

Editor & Chair: Silvia Barbero, Politecnico di Torino

Talks: Place

Talks: Place

Marie Davidová, Maria Claudia Valverde, and Hanane Behnam | Cecilia Padula and Silvia Barbero | Fiona Descoteaux, Donagh Horgan and Stephen Wall | Sharon Zivkovic | Elena Porqueddu | Tanya Efremenko and Honorata Grzesikowska | Marion Real, Carlotta Fontana Valenti, Pietro L. Verga, Pablo Muñoz, Ashley Laflin, and Milena Juarez


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