shiftN is working with Brussels-based design studio Namahn on the development of a Systemic Design Toolkit. Kristel Van Ael, partner at Namahn, sees the development of a design practice that is truly informed by a systems perspective as a hugely important challenge. It’s a movement that has to enable designers to deal with the increasing scale and ‘wickedness’ of societal challenges in an intelligent process of learning and transformation. Also at shiftN we have been seeking to combine design tools with a more conceptual systems approach. Over the years we have often worked together in mixed teams of systems thinkers and (product/service/urban/information) designers.
On Friday 27 March an early version of the Systemic Design Toolkit was piloted in a workshop with the EU Policy Lab of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. Teams used elements of the toolkit to quickly work through a set of topical issues that are on the Lab’s agenda. The analysts were positive about the experience. Relying on the innovative tools in the kit they harvested novel ideas and insights. The overall process was felt to be valuable in providing a shared framework and language when working through messy policy issues.
The feedback of the JRC analysts will help in further developing the toolkit. In October, Namahn and shiftN will present the toolkit at the Systemic Design for Social Complexity symposium at OCAD University in Toronto.