James Tooze and Gareth Owen Lloyd
In 2021 the Design Council UK published The Systemic Design Framework (SDF). The SDF is an update of the widely referenced Double Diamond (Design Council UK, 2004) design process model and compliments the Framework For Innovation (Design Council UK, 2019). The 2004 version of the Double Diamond has been used within industry and education to explain the stages within design projects, labelled as Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. The SDF was developed to expand the scope of design considerations beyond four discrete stages within singular projects to support designers in taking systemic approaches to their work. The SDF provides tools and suggestions to aid designers in tackling complex issues with global consequences, where strategies and approaches need to span multiple projects and be values-driven and impact-focused.
While containing many valuable insights for educating designers, the report was primarily written for industry and policymakers, and as such, it is not currently adequate as an educational framework. The SDF has the potential to be highly valuable in informing a toolkit for design education, from GCSE to Masters, helping students to develop the understanding, language, case studies, methodologies and practices to tackle complex systemic global challenges, including the transition to Net Zero.
This paper, however, argues that toolkits are not enough to effectively embed systemic thinking and prioritise social and ecological (systemic) challenges. It argues that it is imperative that we educate and inculcate a mindset and perspective that needs to be fostered over time. , This paper will present the results of a workshop conducted with the Design Council UK, which explored how to move beyond the toolkit to embed the ideas, concepts and competencies within design education, scaffolding learning on top of and intertwined with other teachings within current design education. This paper does not provide solutions but rather frames an ongoing conversation; it is for anyone involved in design education.
Keywords: systemic design, curriculum, design education