Towards a Sociomaterial Framework for Systems in Design

Nold, Christian (2021). Towards a Sociomaterial Framework for Systems in Design. University of the Arts London: Social Design Institute, Working Paper no. 2.



This working paper addresses the ambiguity around systems in design by developing a tentative socio-material framework for categorising systems articulation within design. It suggests that there is not a single systems design approach, but that there are multiple articulations that are divided as to “how to know systems” and “what systems are composed of”. The paper suggests that there needs to be much more clarity and specificity about what kind of system is assumed or intended to be designed. It identifies that visualisation is the dominant mode of engaging with systems, which reinforces the notion of systems as knowable. In contrast, there are other approaches to systems that suggest they can be transformed directly. Finally, the paper argues that systems thinking is changing design, becoming a knowledge practice and knowledge broker, which has distanced design from its material impacts on the world.

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