Design Research Methods for Systemic Design: Perspectives from Design Education and Practice


  • Peter Jones OCAD University


Systemic design, Design methodology, Design principles, Social systems design


The recent development of systemic design as a research-based practice draws on long-held precedents in the system sciences toward representation of complex social and enterprise systems.  A precedent article, published as Systemic Design Principles for Complex Social Systems (Jones, 2014) established an axiomatic and epistemological basis for complementary principles shared between design reasoning and systems theory.  The current paper aims to establish a basis for identifying shared methods (techne) and action practice (phronesis).  Systemic design is distinguished from user-oriented or industrial design practices in terms of its direct relationship to systems theory and explicit adoption of social system design tenets. Systemic design is concerned with higher-order socially-organized systems that encompass multiple subsystems in a complex policy, organizational or product-service context.  By integrating systems thinking and its methods, systemic design brings human-centered design to complex, multi-stakeholder service systems as those found in industrial networks, transportation, medicine and healthcare. It adapts from known design competencies - form and process reasoning, social and generative research methods, and sketching and visualization practices - to describe, map, propose and reconfigure complex services and systems.

Author Biography

Peter Jones, OCAD University

Dr. Peter Jones is associate professor in the Faculty of Design at Toronto’s OCAD University, teaching in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program, of which he was a founding faculty member. He received his Ph.D. from the Union Institute (Cincinnati, Ohio) in Design and Innovation Management, and an M.A. in Human Factors – Experimental Psychology from the University of Dayton (Ohio). Dr. Jones founded Redesign Research in 2001 (Dayton), now located in Toronto as of Canadian residency (2009). A system and service designer, Peter has designed market-leading information services for healthcare, scientific, and business practices, and advises organizations on product/service design, innovation strategy and competency building.



How to Cite

Jones, P. (2015). Design Research Methods for Systemic Design: Perspectives from Design Education and Practice. Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2014 United States, 1(1). Retrieved from