Systemic Design

Field of possibilities sod web

Systemic design as a field of possibilities. (B. Sevaldson 2013).

SOD is placed slightly off centre, closer to design practice, approximately at the red blurred dot.

The idea of systemic design as a pluralistic field opens the possibilities to several different approaches to systemic design that are not only allowed, but encouraged. This was the proposal of Birger Sevaldson at the 2013 RSD2 Symposium in Oslo.

Systems-oriented design is placed approximately at the red blurred dot, a is a bit off center in the diagram, a little bit toward the practice side and a bit design heavy rather than systems heavy.

Systemic design emerged from the Relating Systems Thinking and Design symposia (RSD), an initiative by Sevaldson that started in 2012 as a symposium for systems-oriented design students at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO). Sevaldson suggested using the term systemic design for the whole field regarding the intersection between design and systems thinking (Sevaldson, 2013). The notion of systemic design has diffuse roots, but it was introduced in its current form by Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman in their book, The Design Way (Nelson & Stolterman, 2012). The motivation of Sevaldson to abandon SOD as a notion for the whole field was because of the risk of watering out its design-oriented and practice-heavy approach and also to colonise a much bigger territory than what felt justified. This spurred the further development of the RSD symposia as a forum for the whole pluralistic systemic design field and also triggered the founding of the Systemic Design Research Network.


The Systemic Design website is found at


Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: intentional change in an unpredictable world: foundations and fundamentals of design competence. Englewood Cliffs: 1st ed. Educational Technology, 2nd ed. MIT press.


Sevaldson, B. (2013). RSD2 intro lecture. Oslo. Retrieved from



Aslak Sødal 17368 assignsubmission file SKjera Tønsberg Map Final web

(Skjer'a Tønsberg Aslak Sødal 2016)

Design for Democracy is an education-based research program that started in the fall of 2016, but there were several projects that predated it.

The aim of the project is to develop the next generation of Design for Democracy. We think developing democracy is about practice and culturing rather than about theory. In short, it is about design. Design can play a crucial role in the development of the next generation of democracy.

Here is the link to the democracy files, a collection of resources regarding Design for Democracy.


A respocitory of sources to read up on the theme of democracy. Under construction



The master projects


Want to study Design for Democracy?



Design for Democracy is not new and we think we need to build on the existing work. But this needs to be developed further. Victor Margolin has been important in maintaining the agenda and provides an excellent overview in this lecture from 2012.


Victor Margolin: Democracy and Design in a Troubled World


The research project is in its initial phases based on the explorative research by design of the master students at AHO. The project is based on master studio courses, designed as education based research, in its built up phase. 

A larger dialogue was initiated with the 2017 RSD6 (Relating Systems Thinking and Design 6) Symposium at AHO 18th to 20th October  Read more here: >>>>>

Also we are contributing to the DEMOCRACY AND DESIGN PLATFORM initiative.

Read more about news, information, links and projects in the blog below. Any comments or initiatives for collaboration are welcome.


Advisory Council


Harold Nelson

Benedicte Wildhagen, Norwegian Design Council (