Select Page


Transition Design: Framing for the protein shift

Format: Workshops, RSD10, Topic: Methods & Methodology, Topic: Socioecological Design

Anna-Louisa Peeters

“Framing for the Protein Shift” is a 1.5-hour on-campus workshop where participants will explore the diverse frames underlying design interventions and their impact on fostering a societal transition.

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 and the way we frame a desirable future for that system and 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 social innovation (Bijl-Brouwer, 2019; Bijl- Brouwer and Malcolm, 2020) inform our understanding of framing in a systemic context yet does not explicitly discuss fostering societal transitions. Popa et al. (2015) look at framing for sustainability transitions, but not as it relates to design practice. 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 to plant-based proteins. We look at ‘breaks in scale’ by alternating between frames on a systemic and situational level, and address systems change and transitions with a focus on framing in the context of societal transitions. 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.


Anna-Louisa Peeters (PhD student at the TU Delft) facilitates this workshop. Her research revolves around framing in the context of societal transitions. This workshop showcases her findings to date, which are the means to explore frames at various systemic scales.

Workshop format

90-minutes | on-campus | maximum of 15 participants

Workshop Agenda: Framing for the Protein Shift


  • On Transition Design, Framing and the Protein Shift.

Introduction of design interventions

  • Participants are presented with a diverse set of design interventions that contribute to the Protein Shift. They get the chance to familiarize themselves with their working mechanisms and relevant contextual factors.

Frame exploration

  • Through a playful card sorting exercise in duos, participants will categorize the design interventions by exposing the systemic problem each intervention seems to solve and the type of (behavioural) solution it entails. Participants then position the interventions in a ‘frame map’, leading to the emergence frame typologies.

‘Museum of Frame Typologies’

  • Duos present their frame typologies and key takeaways from the exercises. We discuss how and why people have interpreted the interventions differently and which frames seem most promising in fostering the Protein Shift.


  • 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.




Citation Data

Author(s): Anna-Louisa Peeters
Title: Transition Design: Framing for the protein shift
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 10 September 2021
Last update:
Publisher Identification:
Verified by MonsterInsights