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Systemic Design Framework Toolkit


Cat Drew, Laura Malan and Nat Hunter

The Systemic Design Framework was developed by the Design Council in 2021 as a methodology for designers and non-designers to work together to address complex challenges such as the climate crisis or deep health inequalities (and indeed to see that both of these are entwined). It was created through research with 16 designers working beyond net zero, a literature review of systemic design practice, as well as Design Council programmes supporting public sector bodies to work systemically around climate and wider determinants of health.

It evolves from the globally famous Double Diamond, created in the early 2000s, but with important differences such as placing more space and energy on the ‘invisible’ activity that surrounds the design process (such as engagement and relationships), seeing the design process as generative and inspiring wider, ongoing change (rather than ending with a finished product per se), and placing even more importance on visioning and value setting upfront rather than delving straight into problem definition (as values will determine so much of what is designed). The most important change perhaps is to place ‘planet’ as the main client, shifting from a sole focus on users to the wider needs of the living world: animals, plants and natural resources.

In order to support people to apply the framework to their own practices, we are now developing a toolkit. There has been a critique of an ‘over-toolkitisation’ in the past years, with people simply applying the tools in sequence without a proper discernment of when and how to use them. This is not prescriptive but an invitation for designers and non-designers to take these methods and adapt them to their contexts, visions and challenges. There are many different audiences for the toolkit: students, communities, businesses, public sector frontline workers, policymakers and designers themselves (and all their sub-disciplines). We have designed these as ‘together tools’ that different groups can use, with space for specific cohorts to adapt tools and language to what suits their context best.

In this presentation, we will share the Systemic Design Framework and toolkit. We are also proposing to run an interactive workshop alongside it.

Keywords: systemic design, design for planet, design for transition, regenerative design

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.