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System-Shifting Design: An emerging practice explored -24


Report summary and reflections on turning into practice

Cat Drew, Jennie Winhall and Cassie Robinson

System Shifting Design was published by the Design Council and The Point People in 2021 as an emerging practice observed by designers across the world who are working to deliberately and generatively create new systems of regenerative planetary health. The report starts with a critique of the existing system of design before setting out some characteristics of both ‘system conscious’ design (designing with an awareness of the wider system in which you are part) and ‘system shifting’ design (designing to deliberate transition to a new system), and some provocations for how the design system itself needs to change to support this more radical and necessary way of designing. A way of designing that works at the level of deep structures and narrative as well as physical things or spaces, that reveals and invites further possibility rather than purely solving discrete problems, and assembles and provisions collectives of organisations who can shape the transition.

In this paper, the authors reflect on the nine months since publication, how the wider context of design and funding practice has changed, how the report’s ideas are being translated into practice and some of the significant challenges with doing so. They observe that while ‘system conscious’ design is becoming increasingly mainstream, ‘system-shifting’ design is still emergent, with some important new voices and writing. Still, significant effort is needed to explain and invest in the deep work needed to change the heart of our current systems.

Keywords: systemic design, system-shifting design, design for planet, design for transition

Pre-proceedings drafts are available for RSD11 participants to review. The corresponding paper number is at the end of the title. The papers have been peer-reviewed, and the authors have made revisions. Following RSD11, authors will have a final period to revise their work from the feedback received at RSD before the proceedings are formally published.

Posted September 2022 content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 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) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium.