Methods, didactics, applications

Our research in and about systemic design aims to both develop the field of systemic design as a set of hybridized and adaptive methods between science and design, and to engage systemic design for designing resilient regenerative systems.

Our approach in research is on the one hand basic research, as to advance hybrid methods, and to develop didactics to learn and teach systemic design. And it is transdiscplinary and fluid as of collaboratively identifying pathways and interventions to deal with complex systems and activate systemic innovation.

Part of this is a new culture in how we frame and approach complexity. Being aware of worldviews, critically evaluating the limitations of reductionist scientific reasoning, and opening up for additional, synergistic ways of knowing, i.e. holistic science, research by design, warm data, is part of our research.

Key concepts

Systemic design integrates systems thinking and design, with the intention to better cope with complexity. Systemic design intends to develop methodologies and approaches that help to integrate systems thinking (e.g. causality, interconnectedness, circularity, synthesis) with design (e.g. ideation, prototyping, iteration) at ecological, social, technical and economic levels. It is a pluralistic initiative where many different approaches are encouraged to thrive and where dialogue and organic development of new practices are central.

Explore Systemic Design

Neither the analytical and descriptive tools of science, nor the iterative doing of design alone are adequate for addressing complex challenges. Combining both cultures of reasoning and methods as a fluid, solution oriented and synergistic process, is hybrid.

A social-ecological or socio-technical system with the capacity to continuously regain its needed energies and resources to vitalize and sustain. Regenerative design actively restores degraded systems. It creates regenerative cultures, which are rooted in cooperation, not in competition.

Design for resilience is the conscious act of creating a system with the adaptive, innovative and transformative capacities to withstand undesirable change, and to deliberately transform in a desired direction towards regeneration.

The science for and of sustainability. Iterative, evidence-based inquiry with a normative aim to balance social and economic wellbeing through technology and participation, balanced by cultural values and based on the carrying capacity of ecosystem services, of nature.

Actionable practices that lead to desired systems changes.

Circularity is creation with the intention of building mutual social benefits while closing resource loops. Resource flows can be of various kinds – material, energy, water, financial, and social. Flows have quantifiable or qualitative currencies.

Complex systems are inherently dynamic and unpredictable, their properties are emergent. An organic way to deal with emergence is the art to trust in having the right tools and techniques to adaptively cope with sudden surprises and challenges, if accepted as such.

Recent projects

Advancing Systemic Design Methodology

Advancing Systemic Design Methodology

Our current societal challenges lead to increased complexity and uncertainty. Neither the analytical and descriptive tools of science, nor the iterative doing of design alone are adequate for addressing complex challenges to implement and guide transformative action. Combining both cultures of reasoning and methods as a fluid, solution oriented and synergistic process, is hybrid, and…

Alpine Urban Resilience

Alpine Urban Resilience

Urban and alpine areas around the globe are socio-economically connected, through the exchange of goods, through tourism, through various up- and downstream cycles -we refer to alpine-urban circularity. Many mountain livelihoods are dependent on the flow of urban populations seeking refuge in nature. Increasing urban heat has driven city dwellers to cooler temperatures at higher elevations….

Systemic Cycles

Systemic Cycles

A cycling journey towards resilient regenerative futures: Systemic Cycles (SC) was protoyped by Martin Schütz and Tobias Luthe of ETH Zurich in 2021, hosted by MonViso Institute, IT. SC currently is both further conceptualized as a Swiss-based research project, and as part of this research practically developed in different bio-regional contexts. cycle-explore-connect-map-weave-transfer-enjoy Systemic Cycles is…

A new worldview on science is holistic, process oriented, question based, inter- and transdisciplinary.

Holistic science is not in opposition to current reductionist methodologies but acknowledges its strength and shortcoming in order to transcend and include it.

In particular, holistic science accepts uncertainty, fuzziness, emergence, fluidity in unforeseeable and non-calculable complexity, and so-called warm data.

Real-World Labs

Experiment with complexity

A real-world laboratory (RWL) or Living Lab is a place to experiment with interventions and solutions to complex challenges and nested crises, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and new alpine-urban living. It is real-world because it is embedded in a living community; it is a lab because it creates space and time for testing and experimentation, such as with renewable building materials and net-positive buildings.

RWL are critically important for the practice and advancement of Systemic Design, since one can prototype and experiment interventions in a “safe space” where failure is accepted, yet the reality of emergence in systems, their unpredictability, is as rich as reality can be.

In general, a RWL is about understanding, incubating and supporting sustainability transitions of various kind, such as from a linear to a more circular economy. An RWL experiments with interventions and solutions to complex and often uncertain challenges, such as future resilient life styles. From this experimental research, one can design tools for change, or seeds for systemic innovation – solutions and illustrations that can be experienced in real and scaled up in other places.

The passive netpositive building IlDoppio as part of the MonViso Institute campus at Serre Lamboi, Italy.

Our experimental hubs 

The MonViso Institute (MVI) is an organisation and a place, a real-world laboratory, to experiment with systemic design solutions to complex sustainability challenges. MVI bases their work on science, inter- and transdisciplinary knowledge on sustainability transitions and regenerative design, across governance scales. The MVI Systemic Design Principles guide experimental work on testing and applying “Tools for Change” (towards a more sustainable, just and regenerative society) and developing illustrative “Seeds for Systemic Innovation” in real, that enable and scale social and technical transitions. These Core Concepts guide our research, education and events, with the goals to evaluate, spread and scale their impacts to other systems. MVI is the main real-world transformative cases of the upcoming MOOC.

The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) has been engaging with the Norwegian mountain community Hemsedal in an alpine-urban relation with Oslo. The Nordic cultures and climate add an interesting contrast to Southern places like Ostana Italy and Mallorca Spain. Hemsedal is part of the initial real-world transformative cases of the upcoming MOOC.

Daniel C. Wahl is the master mind behind many years of bio-regional weaving for regeneration on the island of Mallorca. Daniel’s medal awarded work inspires in many ways, and is part of the initial real-world transformative cases of the upcoming MOOC.

Tiny Labs is a real-world experimentation initiative “anywhere, anytime, anyone” and was coined by Justyna Swat during the Pandemic 2020-22. During curfew periods in Paris, Justyna experimented with real-world interventions that relate with resilient and regenerative systems. Driven by curiosity, designerly creativity, and scientific interest, Justyna illustrates how any of us can experiment with real-world change, without being part of a larger real-world lab, but anywhere, anytime.

Let’s re-think and re-design how we want to live now and in the future. Resilient, regenerative, blending local traditions, regional resources, and global openness.