Transition Design: Framing for the protein shift


Anna-Louisa Peeters

Framing, and more specifically reframing, is recognized as a core competence of designers (Bijl-Brouwer, 2019; Dorst, 2015; Fokkinga et al., 2020; Hekkert & Van Dijk, 2011; Koskela et al., 2018; Schön, 1984; Stompff et al., 2016). Both the way we frame systemic issues in the present as well as the way we frame a desirable future for that system, impact the effectiveness of our design interventions.

How can we best apply framing to bring about systemic change and more specifically, a societal transition?

Framing transitions

Unpacking what we know about societal transitions, framing and design, we find the following. Extensive research has been done on managing transitions (Avelino and Wittmayer, 2016; Geels and Schot, 2007; Köhler et al., 2019; Rotmans and Loorbach, 2009), which is complemented in the field of design by the recent emergence of Transition Design (Dahle, 2019; Irwin, 2015). Recent research on framing for complex, open, dynamic and networked problems (Dorst and Watson, 2020; Sturkenboom et al., 2019; Vink et al., 2019) and for social innovation (Bijl-Brouwer, 2019; Bijl- Brouwer and Malcolm, 2020) inform our understanding of framing in a systemic context yet does not specifically discuss fostering societal transitions. Popa et al. (2015) look at framing for sustainability transitions, but not in relation to the practice of design. Let’s try to connect these dots!

This workshop provides an opportunity to explore a variety of design interventions aiming to foster a societal transition, their underlying frames and their effectiveness in accelerating that transition. We focus on the ‘Protein Shift, the societal transition involving our collective dietary shift from animal proteins to plant-based proteins. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of framing at various systemic scales (and how to bounce back and forth between those levels) and Transition Design in practice. We look at ‘breaks in scale’, by alternating between frames on a systemic as well as a situational level and address systems change and transitions with a focus on framing in the context of societal transitions.


The workshop will be facilitated by Anna-Louisa Peeters (PhD student at the TU Delft). Her research revolves around framing in the context of societal transitions. This workshop offers a showcase of her findings to date, which are the means to explore frames at various systemic scales.

Workshop format

120-minutes | TBA | maximum of 20 participants

Workshop Agenda: Framing transition

Brief introduction on Transition Design, framing and the Protein Shift (presentation with slides)

Playful exploration of design interventions aiming to accelerate the Protein Shift: unpacking frames on the systemic and the situational level (several rounds of card sorting and mapping exercises in duos, followed by plenary discussions)

2-minute presentations per duo, sharing frame map & main insights, followed by Q&A from other participants

Plenary reflection on framing for societal transitions and on the workshop.


Avelino, F., Wittmayer, J.M., 2016. Shifting power relations in sustainability transitions: A multi-actor perspective. J. Environ. Policy Plan. 18, 628–649.

Bijl-Brouwer, M. van der, 2019. Problem Framing Expertise in Public and Social Innovation. She Ji 5, 29–43.

Bijl-Brouwer, M. van der, Malcolm, B., 2020. Systemic Design Principles in Social Innovation: A Study of Expert Practices and Design Rationales. She Ji 6, 386–407.

Dahle, C.L., 2019. Designing for Transitions: Addressing the Problem of Global Overfishing. Cuad. del Cent. Estud. Diseño y Comun. 213–233.

Dorst, K., 2015. Frame Innovation: Create new thinking by design, The MIT Press.

Dorst, K., Watson, R., 2020. Reframing and Strategic Transformation. DRS2020 Synerg. 5, 1964–1976.

Fokkinga, S.F., Desmet, P.M.A., Hekkert, P., 2020. Impact-Centered Design : Introducing an Integrated Framework of the Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Design. Int. J. Des. 14, 97– 116.

Geels, F.W., Schot, J., 2007. Typology of sociotechnical transition pathways. Res. Policy.

Hekkert, P. & van Dijk, M.B. (2011). Vision in design: A guidebook for innovators. Amsterdam: BIS publishers

Irwin, T., 2015. Transition design: A proposal for a new area of design practice, study, and research. Des. Cult. 7, 229–246.

Köhler, J., Geels, F.W., Kern, F., Markard, J., Onsongo, E., Wieczorek, A., Alkemade, F., Avelino, F., Bergek, A., Boons, F., Fünfschilling, L., Hess, D., Holtz, G., Hyysalo, S., Jenkins, K., Kivimaa, P., Martiskainen, M., McMeekin, A., Mühlemeier, M.S., Nykvist, B., Pel, B., Raven, R., Rohracher, H., Sandén, B., Schot, J., Sovacool, B., Turnheim, B., Welch, D., Wells, P., 2019. An agenda for sustainability transitions research: State of the art and future directions. Environ. Innov. Soc. Transitions 31, 1–32.

Koskela, L., Paavola, S., Kroll, E., 2018. The Role of Abduction in Production of New Ideas in Design, Design Research Foundations.

Loorbach, D., Frantzeskaki, N., Avelino, F., 2017. Sustainability Transitions Research: Transforming Science and Practice for Societal Change. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 42, 599–626.

Popa, F., Guillermin, M., Dedeurwaerdere, T., 2015. A pragmatist approach to transdisciplinarity in sustainability research: From complex systems theory to reflexive science. Futures 65, 45–56.

Rotmans, J., Loorbach, D., 2009. Complexity and transition management. J. Ind. Ecol. 13, 184–196.

Schön, D.A., 1984. Problems, frames and perspectives on designing. Des. Stud. 5, 132–136.

Stompff, G., Smulders, F., Henze, L., 2016. Surprises are the benefits: reframing in multidisciplinary design teams. Des. Stud. 47, 187–214.

Sturkenboom, N., Baha, E., Price, R., Kleinsmann, M., Snelders, D., 2019. A chat approach to understand framing in digital service innovation. Proc. Int. Conf. Eng. Des. ICED 2019-Augus, 3031–3040.

Vink, J., Edvardsson, B., Wetter-Edman, K., Tronvoll, B., 2019. Reshaping mental models – enabling innovation through service design, Journal of Service Management.

RSD proceedings are 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.


Author(s) (20XX). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) 20XX Symposium. City, Country, Month X-X, 20XX.

Creative Commons Licence

RSD10 Updates

Join the RSD10 mailing list to stay up-to-date on symposium developments.

Your SDA membership offers additional RSD features.

Thank you for