Systems Change w Systemic Design

25th September, 2018

Contemporary social and environmental challenges are complex. There is growing sentiment within the design community that human-centred design is not enough to deal with the increased complexity that contemporary challenges such as globalisation, migration, and sustainability bring.  Many designers are turning to Systems Thinking as an alternative approach for complex problem solving.

Systemic design is a recent initiative in design that integrates systems thinking and human-centered design, with the intention of helping designers create wholistic solutions that are more than quick fixes or have unintended side-effects.


Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer

To be able to address complex societal problems, many innovation agencies have turned to combining the analytic approaches of systems thinking with the creative and social practices of design, also called ‘systemic design’. This new emerging transdisciplinary field of practice offers many opportunities to rethink and shape systems change. In this talk, Mieke will share the results of a study into the systemic design practices of five international innovation labs in the context of the public and social sector.


Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer is a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia. 
Her research interests span the fields of human-centred design and public and social sector innovation. She holds a Master of Science in Industrial Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology, and a PhD in User-Centred Design from the University of Twente, the Netherlands.

Tim Tompson

Our biggest challenges today are socio-technical, not just social or technical. Because of this, strictly human-centric approaches to design can only ever deliver partial improvements at a system level. The problems of human systems are often deeply entangled with nonhuman actors such as nature, computers, policy, physical infrastructure and geography. Conversely, technical systems can rarely be usefully separated from the humans that create and interact with them. Making these contexts even more challenging to understand, the relationships between their elements continually change. How can a designer usefully conceptualise and understand their work across these emergent socio-technical spaces?

Tim Tompson, a Strategic Designer at Axilo, will offer an introduction to some pragmatic methods that enable these contexts to be worked with productively. He will ground these methods in examples from his PhD studies of the design of transport information systems in Sydney.

Panel discussion

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