Emerging Practices Design Research and Education Conference 2016: Design in Complexity

Emerging Practices Design Research and Education Conference 2016:

Design in Complexity


College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

October 15–16, 2016


Call for Cases


Every autumn, the Tongji University College of Design and Innovation organises a small, highly interactive conference on design research and design education titled “Emerging Practices” (EPC). Since the first EPC in 2012, this has become an annual forum for debates on such themes as new practices, values, and approaches arising in design and design education; open design; influences on developing practices; DesignX; and design activism.


As a feature event in the framework of Shanghai Design Week, EPC2016 will be held this coming October, organized by the College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University in cooperation with several partner universities. This conference is an initiative endorsed by CUMULUS and DESIS.


The main theme of EPC this year is “Design in Complexity.” It will continue and expand the conversation initiated by the DesignX Manifesto in 2014. This conversation developed further in a two-day DesignX workshop hosted by Tongji University in 2015. The first DesignX Manifesto articulated the nature of working in and with complex sociotechnical systems, attempting to explore the framework for designers to address such issues. The follow-up DesignX workshop explored the principles of working with such systems, highlighted the importance and difficulty of implementing solutions to DesignX problems. The workshop focused on several  valuable cases. It sparked a lively discussion that we will continue this year. The positioning paper written by Donald A. Norman and Pieter Jan Stappers after the workshop was published in the 2nd issue of She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation. This paves the way for shaping EPC2016 as a productive, evidence-based conversation. To download the Norman & Stappers paper, please visit:


This year, we welcome emerging cases. These may be cases that have already been implemented or ongoing practices. They may also be visions or proposals for future projects. We hope that all cases will demonstrate concrete approaches to improving complex sociotechnical systems. We hope that these cases will shed light on key questions:


What are the difficulties and advantages of designing in, through, or for complexity? How does designing in complexity re-shape the design process? Do we have effective tools and methods to cope with complexity? Can we provide evidence to support the impact of design on complex systems?


Topics on implemented or ongoing cases, or prospective future cases, might deal with several fields. Welcome subjects include several areas:


-       Healthcare

-       Transportation

-       Urban-rural interaction

-       Industrial transformation

-       Government policy

-       Financial system

-       Sustainability

-       as well as other subjects not listed here


As a principle, all cases should be based on rigorous research. We hope that emerging cases will address the current developments in human civilisation, legacy issues arising from past and present human activity, and we hope that cases will reflect cultural diversity.


For meaningful impact on the real world, designers must seek new knowledge and practices at the intersection of different fields. We are standing at the point where the design field attempts to enter, intervene, and hopefully improve the complex systems with which designers increasingly interact. EPC2016 encourages all contributions that take designing for complexity as a starting point of long-term and profound systemic transformation. Grounded in emerging or ongoing cases, as well as cases in the planning stage, EPC2016 aims to bridge the gap between design research and real world changes. This involves careful consideration of how we can change current situations into preferred ones. We especially welcome cases from industry and professional design practice.


Conference Information


Dates: October 15–16, 2016

Location: College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Conference language: English


Submission Requirements:


Please choose the relevant sub-topic(s) and submit a short description of your case using the word template you will find here:


CaseProposal template EPC2016.doc


The description should include: 1) the title of your work; 2) the case description running 750–1000 words; 3) 5–10 high-resolution images; and 4) 3–5 keywords. In addition, please include a short (50–100 words) biography of each author, including such information as your full name, title, affiliation(s), and email address. We will translate submitted materials into an A2 size poster as well as printing it out for the conference discussion session.


How It Works:


This conference will focus on real interaction among the participants. If the proposal is accepted, you will join the discussion table where you will be asked to make a short presentation and then to participate in a series of team activities to facilitate group discussion.


Presentations, discussions, and activities will lead to outcomes at two levels. First, the observations and perspectives articulated during the process will be highlighted at the end of the conference in a small presentation or exhibition. Second, participants will be able to use this highly interactive and co-constructive process to consolidate their reflections on the cases and to develop the proposals into full papers after the event.


Two rounds of blind peer review will be organized, first to select promising, solid cases to participate in the two-day conference. Then, using the full papers developed from the discussed cases, we will select final papers for inclusuion in the proceedings.


Academic Committee


We will invite a group of leading scholars, including the DesignX initiators, to serve on the scientific committee. During the conference, they will observe and participate in case discussions. Based on the cases, they will explore DesignX issues, reporting their reflections at the end of conference. We will announce the committee soon.


Key Dates


Call for case proposals: May 12, 2016

Submission of case proposals: July 29, 2016 (extended)

Notification of acceptance of the case proposal: August 15, 2016 (extended)

Conference registration opens: August 1, 2016

Delivery of the final case proposal: August 31, 2016 (extended)

Conference: October 15–16, 2016

Submission of full materials: December 15, 2016

Notification of review results: January 26, 2017

Submission of the final paper: March 1, 2017

Conference proceedings: end of June, 2017




Conference proceedings will be published as a book with an ISBN number.


Conference Registration:


The registration and payment information will be released soon.


Contact Persons:


Conference Chair: Prof. LOU Yongqi

Secretary General: Ms. GONG Yubei





College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University:




CaseProposal template EPC2016.doc


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