Call for Papers

Calls for papers on: 



Relating Systems Thinking and Design / Systemic Design and co-creation processes for territorial enhancement

Guest editors: Silvia Barbero, Amina Pereno

Vol. 13, n. 2 (May-August 2020)


Information for Contributors

The world we live in is hectic and multifaceted, characterized by continuous changes that are more frequent, radical and dramatic than ever before. Their dimension rapidly shifts from local to global and viceversa, due to the increased interconnected nature of relations, affecting society at many different levels. This results in a rising complexity that requires new creative solutions with a high degree of adaptability to be properly addressed. It is in this scenario that Systemic Design can effectively integrate systems thinking and its methods with design to address this multi-stakeholder complexity, by creating new resilient systems moving towards sustainability at environmental, social and economic level. Systemic Design adapts from known design competencies to frame, understand, explore, propose and design complex services and systems, acting in the context of the indeterminacy of wicked problems.

The systemic approach enables to address all aspects of designing sustainable sociotechnical systems, thus promoting social innovation to improve the quality of life and economic wellbeing of people, evaluating engagements with people to develop local economies and acting in full respect for the environment and natural resources. The challenge of territorial enhancement has close links with the broader concept of Sustainable Development, since it deals with complex issues concerning the manner, the scale, and the time of the design intervention in order to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability. To that end, Systemic Design considers the need to design locally supportive structures for economic and social flourishing, organically co-created and co-produced within the regions themselves. The concept of co-creation is crucial for the long-term sustainability of the territorial systems; it includes a wide range of participatory practices for design and decision making aiming at facilitate user participation and multi-stakeholder engagement. The process of local participation in the design and implementation phase of territorial systems, requires the adoption of cultural, environmental, and community values. Regional development processes are strongly dependent on people’s ability to develop sustainable structures that, on the one hand, facilitate all forms of innovation, creativity, new ideas, and visions in acting and, on the other hand, maintain the essential stability of the system.

We welcome contributions addressing collaborative research domains in which design is boosting innovation and sustainability. Authors are invited to provide their view on how systems thinking in design disciplines can help our territorial and socio-technical systems to face the complex challenge of sustainability.

We especially invite authors to opening up the discussion about the following research topics:

  • Co-creation approaches in Strategic Design and Systemic Design; 

  • Participatory practices for design and decision making with stakeholders and users in complex systems; 

  • Strategic tools for enhancing local participation in territorial systems; 

  • Systemic Design for social, economic and environmental sustainability;

  • Implementation of innovative territorial systems.

Other research topics concerning Systems and Design Thinking are welcomed.



Barbero, S. (Ed.) (2018). Systemic Design Method Guide for Policymaking: a Circular Europe on the Way. Turin, Italy: Allemandi.

Barbero, S., & Bicocca, M. (2018). Scalability in Systemic Design Approach for Rural Development. In: W. Leal Filho (Ed.) Handbook of Sustainability Science and Research. World Sustainability Series. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Bistagnino, L. (2011). Systemic Design: designing the productive and environmental sustainability. Bra, Italy: Slow Food.

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21.

Bunnell, P., & Riegler, A. (2011). Maturana Across the Disciplines. Constructivist Foundations, 6(3), 287-292.

Capra, F. (1997). The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter. London, UK: Flamingo.

Chertow, M. R. (2000). Industrial symbiosis: Literature and taxonomy. Annual Review of Energy and Environment, 25, 313–337.

Christakis, A. N., & Bausch, K. C. (2006). How people harness their collective wisdom and power to construct the future in co-laboratories of democracy. Greenwich, USA: Information Age Press.

Frosch, R. A., & Gallopoulos, N. E. (1989). Strategies for manufacturing. Scientific American, 3(189), 94–102.

Frow, P., Nenonen, S., Payne, A., & Storbacka, K. (2015). Managing co-creation design: A strategic approach to innovation. British Journal of Management, 26(3), 463-483.

Irwin, T. (2015). Transition design: A proposal for a new area of design practice, study, and research. Design and Culture, 7(2), 229–246.

Jones, P.H. (2014). Systemic Design Principles for Complex Social Systems. In G. Metcalf (Ed.), Social Systems and Design (pp. 91-128). New York, USA: Springer.

Jones, P.H., & Kijima, K. (Eds.) (2018). Systemic Design Theory, Methods, and Practice. Tokyo, Japan: Springer.

Manzini, E., & Vezzoli, C. (2003). A strategic design approach to develop sustainable product service systems: Examples taken from the ‘environmentally friendly innovation’ Italian prize. Journal of Cleaner Production, 11(8), 851–857.

Maturana, H. R., & Varela, F. J. (1987). The tree of knowledge: The biological roots of human understanding. Boston: Shambhala.

Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: Intentional change in an unpredictable world. Cambridge, USA: The MIT Press.

Norman, D. A., & Stappers, P. J. (2016). DesignX: Complex sociotechnical systems. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 1(2), 83–106.

Pallaro, A., & Pereno, A. (2018). Good Practices Guide: Systemic Approaches for a Circular Economy. Turin, Italy: Allemandi.

Pearce, D. W., & Turner, R. K. (1989). Economics of natural resources and the environment. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pourdehnad, J., Wilson, D., & Wexler, E. (2011, September). Systems & design thinking: A conceptual framework for their integration. In Proceedings of the 55th Annual Meeting of the ISSS. Hull, UK (Vol. 55, No. 1).

Ray, C. (2006). Neo-endogenous rural development in the EU. In P. Cloke, T. Marsden, & P. Mooney (Eds.), Handbook of rural studies (pp. 278–291). London: Sage.

Sanders, E.B.N., & Stappers, P.J. (2008). Co-creation and the new landscapes of design. Co-design, 4(1), 5–18.

Sevaldson, B. (2010). Discussions and Movements in Design Research: A systems approach to practice research in design. FORMakademisk, 3(1), 8-35.

Thackara, J. (2005). In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World. Cambridge, USA: MIT Press.

Von Bertalanffy, L. (1969). General system theory: Foundations, development, applications. New York: George Braziller.

Warfield, J. N. (1994). Science of generic design: Managing complexity through systems design. Ames, IA: Iowa State Press.

Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: Or control and communication in the animal and the machine. Paris: Hermann & Cie.



Launch of the call for papers: June 18th, 2019.

Full paper due: September 2nd, 2019

Notification of Review results: November 4th, 2019

Deadline for submission of the final version: December 16th, 2019

Final acceptance: January 31st, 2020

Publication: May 1st, 2020


Submission guidelines

  • Manuscripts must be prepared using the guidelines and the template that our editorial team will upload in July, 2019;

  • The manuscript must be written in English;

  • The manuscript must follow APA style;
  •  Previously published articles will not be accepted. Submitted articles must not be under consideration for publication anywhere else. The publication of the article is subjected to the previous approval of the journal's Editorial Board, as well as to peer review made by, at least, two reviewers using the double blind review process;

  • Manuscripts must be sent through the journal’s online submission system. You have to register in the platform in order to submit your article:


If you have questions regarding the submission process, contact the journal at




Open & Distributed + Design & Production | Design strategies for enabling indie designers and makers

Guest editors: Massimo Menichinelli, Massimo Bianchini, Stefano Maffei

Vol. 12, n. 2: we are editing the special issue  


Information for contributors

Designers’ practices have constantly evolved in the last two centuries, and during the last decades new design and production paradigms have emerged, transforming the discipline from processes developed exclusively by professionals to processes where users have an increasingly important and active role. The digitization of society, the democratization of technology, the personalization of production and the gradual opening of the design practice are emerging phenomena that generate a new scenario in which the processes of creation, production and distribution of goods and services is undergoing profound changes

The increasing number of designers and creative individuals (which is not accompanied by an equally strong demand of design jobs) represents a new condition that pushes some of them to self-produce goods, often at a small scale, by integrating complementary resources they do not possess. This is possible thanks to a wide network of physical and digital platforms for learning and training, research, design, production, distribution and (micro)financing. This trend is strongly connected with the Maker movement, a loose global movement of individuals who focus on making physical projects but with a digital layer and digital tools, often with collaborative processes and the sharing of the digital files or documentation. Makers often meet and work in globally-networked laboratories such as Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Hackerspaces that provide access to a local and global community of like-minded actors and to several digital fabrication technologies able to manufacture easily and locally digital projects. The democratization of technology, education, content and community building of such laboratories increases the possibilities for professional and amateur designers and at the same time it opens up new possibilities of collaboration and interaction among them and with other stakeholders

All these phenomena, which integrate design skills and the ‘making’ approach, enable the development of new entrepreneurial types of professional producers. On one hand designers acquire more technological and practical skills, on the other hand, makers evolve their design attitude and capabilities. Design and production are becoming thus more Open and Distributed: among several actors, several approaches, several locations and laboratories. The change of design and production models is becoming the core topic of the research and innovation policies, in many countries, regions and cities. At the same time, several bottom up initiatives are being developed by local people and associations, especially in urban contexts. Moreover, experts in economics, sociology, technology are studying manufacturing process changes in terms of development of personal fabrication, growth and impact of new communities of makers and the return to new forms of craftsmen. Furthermore, we think this is an important issue for the design on a global scale that has many points of convergence with the global theme of social innovation.

The evolution of Open & Distributed Design & Production can be already measured in decades, with many initiatives by both practitioners and researchers, and its themes have been discussed already in several conferences (like Crafting the Future, Open Design for E-very-thing, several editions of the research strand of the FABx conferences, organized by the International Fab Lab Association, and many more), journal issues (like several issues of the Journal of the Peer Production, the Copytheft issue of Disegno – The Journal of Design Culture, the Open Design at the Intersection of Making and Manufacturing issue of the Human–Computer Interaction journal, and many more) and research projects (MAKE-IT, Open Maker, OpenCare, Digital DIY and many more). This is a phenomenon that has already been promoted, discussed and studied by several disciplines and also design researchers, but while most of these contributions have explored its beginnings and main traits, we believe that it might be reaching a turning point in its evolution. Discussions about this phenomenon could be more strategic if they focus now more on how to make it more structured and prepared for the long term than just focusing on exploring common traits and how to scale it without thinking about a long term strategy. Political, social, economical and legal issues are increasingly relevant in order to make such initiatives inclusive, their processes and organization transparent and their management fair and equal.

We especially welcome proposals that addresses existing criticalities of the Open & Distributed Design & Production phenomenon and their connections with Strategic Design: how these criticalities impact over Strategic Design, and how could Strategic Design impact over them?

We suggest these strands for the discussion of Open & Distributed Design & Production:

  • Opening Design & Opening Production: Open and collaborative processes are spreading in production of goods and services. Practices and modalities for value production based on shared resources and active collaboration between diverse stakeholders are growing in diverse fields. From software and information production (with commons-based p2p production) to the consumer sector, (collaborative consumption) to the public service field (co-creation of services) to social innovation and sustainability (collaborative services and product-service systems). This strand aims at exploring how design can support open and collaborative practices and which impact they could have on boosting a local economy generating resilience.

  • Platforms for opening design & production: Open and collaborative processes are spreading in production of goods and services. Practices and modalities for value production based on shared resources and active collaboration between diverse stakeholders are growing in diverse fields. From software and information production (with commons-based p2p production) to the consumer sector, (collaborative consumption) to the public service field (co-creation of services) to social innovation and sustainability (collaborative services and product-service systems). This strand aims at exploring open and collaborative practices of value generation understanding how design can support them and which impact they could have on boosting a local economy generating resilience.

  • Factories for opening design & production: Fab Labs, Hackerspaces, Living Labs but also public libraries offering production facilities; infrastructures for prototyping and supporting local production are spreading, as facilities where open access to technology and collaboration between participants lowers the threshold for making things and testing activities and initiatives. The aim of this strand is to discuss how these infrastructures could become more effective in supporting local forms of production and experimentation.

  • Design for "indie" innovation: The democratization of design (from open source design to the designer as a "mass profession") linked to the rise of DIY culture generates a new scenario for the development of design processes which have very different characteristics from the traditional ones. This strand aims at exploring these new design process related to the autonomous development of new product-service system that can be produced on-demand and on-site; the regeneration/refurbishing and upgrade of products and technologies; and the creative repair and/or hacking.

Strategic design has always been considered a specific disciplinary field mainly focused on product-service systems design and development. Its applications, methodologies and tools stimulate individuals and organizations to adopt and use design as a key factor/resource to innovate products and services, production, communication and distribution processes and generate economic, social, and cultural values. In an emerging scenario, which is characterized by the rise of open and distributed models, creative, production and distribution processes are transforming conditions and environments in which strategic design has operated so far.
New independent actors are emerging in economic, the nature of organizations is evolving in a hybrid direction, design and R&D processes become less hierarchical and more collaborative, user are changing the relationship with products-services systems. In this perspective, the influence and contribution of disciplines such as marketing - traditionally very "close" to strategic design - seems now less relevant as well as the extreme attention on brand identity and appearance. But strategic design is and remains a disciplinary field that highly stimulates individuals and organizations to think, work and act adopting a systemic perspective and a holistic view. For this reason, this special issue of SDRJ wants to thus gather contributions that explore what and (overall) how strategic design has been could and/or should evolve its own patrimony of approaches, methodologies and tools to operate and innovate in emerging contexts of open and distributed design.

Furthermore, we also suggest to investigate the above themes, with the perspective of Strategic Design, focusing on the social, political, legal, environmental and economic issues especially through critical trends such as unemployment, automation, democracy, decentralization, decolonization, gender issues, sustainability, circular economy, degrowth, anthropocene, post-humanism, techno-evangelism, techno-determinism and so on. Proposals on different strands, issues and trends that explore the criticalities of Open & Distributed Design & Production with the perspective of Strategic Design are very much welcomed.



Bianchini, M., & Maffei, S. (2012). Could design leadership be personal? Forecasting new forms of “Indie Capitalism.” Design Management Journal, 7(1), 6–17.

Forlano, L. (2017). Posthumanism and Design. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 3(1), 16–29.

Foster, E. K. (2017). Making Cultures: Politics of Inclusion, Accessibility, and Empowerment at the Margins of the Maker Movement (Ph.D.). Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Ann Arbor, United States.

Greenfield, A. (2017). Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life. London ; New York: Verso.

Kohtala, C. (2016). Making sustainability: how Fab Labs address environmental issues. Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture - Department of Design. Retrieved from

Manzini, E. (2015). Design, When Everybody Designs: An Introduction to Design for Social Innovation. (R. Coad, Trans.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Menichinelli, M. (2016). A Framework for Understanding the Possible Intersections of Design with Open, P2P, Diffuse, Distributed and Decentralized Systems. Disegno – The Journal of Design Culture, III(1–2), 44–71.

Menichinelli, M., Bianchini, M., Carosi, A., & Maffei, S. (2017). Makers as a new work condition between self-employment and community peer-production. Insights from a survey on Makers in Italy. Journal of Peer Production, (10). Retrieved from

Morozov, E. (2014). To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism (First Trade Paper Edition edition). New York: PublicAffairs.


If you have questions regarding the submission process, contact the journal at




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