Margherita Vacca, Francesco Cantini, Alessio Tanzini, and Fabio Ballerini

University of Florence, Department of Architecture, Laboratory of Design for Sustainability

As Laboratory of Design for Sustainability (LDS), our main objective is to investigate and analyse the contribution of design to complex contemporary challenges, applying the sustainable paradigm through a systemic and critical approach, i.e. in its multiple environmental, social, cultural and economic nature.

The presentation starts with a reflection on global upheavals, such as the proliferation of ecological disasters, lack of care for the Other and the Elsewhere, and growing social inequalities. We propose the need to redirect the attention of design towards an eco-social perspective as the two components are deeply intertwined and cannot be addressed individually (Armiero, 2021).

So how do we design in time of trouble? Through national and international research and development projects, we have investigated and studied how to answer this question, trying to outline and promote an eco-social perspective of a highly systemic and speculative nature. The invitation for design is to engage in critical dialogue with other disciplines; in this sense, we will present case studies that have seen the establishment of interdisciplinary design discourse, including areas relating to the Social and Natural Sciences. The aim is to compose a scientific framework of interdisciplinary methods and tools (design-driven, co-design, systemic thinking, participatory approach) that arises in the border spaces between knowledge and points of critical dialogue among academic silos. A tentacular operation (Haraway, 2016) is necessary to understand the complex challenges or missions that await the designer to explore new possibilities of applying systemic thinking to design and develop a critical point of view essential for promoting an alternative to the status quo.

The output of our critical enquiries is the development of an eco-social design framework consisting of three design formulas. They provide a possible direction for design research and practice dealing with complex issues and transdisciplinary connections. By visualising a different and critical application of the systemic approach, we intend to present how design research, practice and methodology can be enriched and “re-meant” by adopting an eco-social perspective.

KEYWORDS: eco-social perspective, system thinking, design methodology, system design applications, beyond anthropocentrism

Sketchnote by Patricia Kambitch | Playthink

Posted September 2022

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Suggested Citation Format (APA)

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) Symposium. rsdsymposium.org/LINK.