Francesca Valsecchi 

Associate Professor


Brief Introduction

  • Researcher, practitioner and educator looking at the intersection of design with ecology, cultures, and technology.

  • Milan Polytechnic graduated, Francesca moved to Asia looking for internationalisation and trans-culturality opportunities for her design practice. She has a Post-doc degree from European Commission with a project on sustainable agriculture and design innovation in rural China. After graduation, she has made a home in Shanghai since 2010.

  • She currently serve as Associate Professor at the International College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University where she develop courses and researches affiliated with the international DESIS Network (Design for Sustainability and Social Innovation), in the areas of Design and Nature, Rural-Urban, Digital Social Innovation, and Sustainable Food System.

  • Her design practice is based on the methods and tools of ethnography, design research and data visualisation, with expertise both in academia and industry. She has an ongoing artistic practice using alternative photography processes. Her research is inspired by principles of open design and her work largely influenced by trans-cultural concerns. Besides academic posts, she is widely engaged in collaborative art projects, as well as being an active member of local communities of civil rights and environmental action.

  • She serve as Scientific coordinator of Politong, Double Degree programme with Milan and Turin Polytechnic, and she is an active member of the international design community contributing to the visibility and reputability of D&I.In fact, she holds visiting lecturer and visiting professor positions both in China and abroad (Jiangnan University, Shanghai University, Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique China Studio, University of Macao, Wuhan Institute of Technology, Die Angewandte Wien), teaching courses on design methodology, design and cultures, visualisation, and open design.

  • Portfolio of courses, researches, and thesis projects (constantly being updated and incomplete):



  • design and ecology

  • design and nature

  • digital social innovation

  • design and cultures

  • data visualisation




  • Typography and Type design

  • Studio5 – design and sustainability

  • Studio5 – Design and Urban Nature –

  • Studio 5 – PCB Electronic boards making and programming



  • Data and Information Visualisation

  • Studio 5 – Media and Communication

  • Design and sustainability (lecturer)


Academic and social Post

POLITONG Programme Coordinator
Scientific Coordinator and students support for the international double degree programme with Milan and Turin Polytechnic universities (from 2018)


Education Background

  • 2010-2012 EU-STF2 Science and Technology Fellowship Programme China (EuropeAid/128952/L/ACT/CN)
    Research programme funded by EU about communication design and sustainable living heritages

  • 2009 – PhD degree. Doctor of Philosophy Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication

  • 2005 - MA degree. Master of Art Communication Design

  • 2003 - BA degree. Bachelor of Art Communication Design

  • 2000 – High School Diploma

Work Experience

  • 2020 - present

Tongji University, Shanghai. College of Design & Innovation

Associate Professor
Principal Researcher. Tongji DESIS Digital Social Innovation Lab

  • 2005 - present

Design Consultancy 

Main companies project in China: Nokia, DesignIt Munich, ChangHong Meiling, Philips
design research and methodology, interaction design, service design, graphics and digital interfaces

  • 2013 - 2020

Assistant Professor. Communication Design Faculty.

Tongji University, Shanghai. College of Design & Innovation

  • February 2016

MOOC instructor – Data Journalism Fundamentals

Google News Lab and Hong Kong University  – Journalism and Media Studies Centre JMSC

  • October 2016

Visiting Researcher (fellowship granted)

Ningbo Nottingham University

  • October 2015

Visiting Researcher (fellowship granted)

TU/e Industrial Design Department. Design United Fellowship

  • September 2012 - January 2016

Visiting Researcher

Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China. School of Design
Coordinator of DESIS Lab, design methodology, ethnography consultant



  • 2020. NSFC Young Researcher “The contribute of Citizens Science to support Urban Nature and ecological literacy in Chinese cities, and its impact on ecological urbanization in China”

  • 2019. Horizon 2020 project T-Factor. H2020-SC5-2019-2. Unleashing future-facing urban hubs through culture and creativity-led strategies of transformative time 

  • 2020. Design and Data book (Gao Feng Peak Discipline Grant)


Indexed Papers

  • (2017) A First Speculation on Cultural Experiments as Design Research Methods.

    Valsecchi F., Tassi R., Kilina E.

    In: Rau PL. (eds) Cross-Cultural Design. CCD 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10281, pp.76-93. Springer, Cham. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-57931-3_7 

  • (2014) Design Implications of Digital Social Innovation: a Playful Approach to Analyse a Cases Study Dataset. Francesca Valsecchi, Miaosen Gong

    Proceedings from HCI International Conference, Crete 2014, LNCS 8528 Cross-Cultural Design. Springer, Cham. ISBN 978-3-319-07307-1 

  • (2010) From Data to Knowledge. Visualizations as transformation processes within the Data-Information-Knowledge continuum. Masud, L., Valsecchi, F., Ciuccarelli, P., Ricci, D., & Caviglia, G. In E. Banissi, & al. (Eds.), 14th International Conference Information Visualisation. London: ieee. Pages 445 – 449. ISBN: 978-0-7695-4165-5


Monographies and Chapters

  • (forthcoming, expected 2020) 

    Design and Data book proposal (Gao Feng Peak Discipline Grant)


  • (2018) Movable Feasts. An exploration into the heritage, flavours and possible futures of Shanghai street-food. Francesca Valsecchi, eds Jin Ma, Lou Yongqi, Yuebei Gong, Emerging Practice Conference. Designing in Complexity, 2016, Tongji University Press, ISBN 9787560878751

  • (2017) The qualities of smart citizens: a design-driven social outlook over technological citizenship. in "Open Your Space: Design for Urban Resilience" edited by NiMinqing and Zhu Mingjie, LUMINOCITY of Tongji University Press, Shanghai

  • (2016) The listening capability. Three insights around and about a design way to

    storytelling. Francesca Valsecchi, Roberta Tassi. in The Pearl Diver: the designer as storyteller, edited by Bertolotti, E., Daam, H., Piredda, F., Tassinari, V.; DESIS Network

  • (2015) Design for Wuxi Elders: Lihu community and Shangxian Community.

    Miaosen Gong, Nansi Van Geetsom, Francesca Valsecchi, Wenqing Lv

    in “Ageing, Ingenuity and Design. International Cases Collection 2015”, Yanki Lee and Patricia Moore (eds.), pp.102-119 ISBN 978-988-12325-6-4

  • (2013) Design Harvests. An acupuncture design research approach towards sustainability.

    Edited by Lou Yongqi, Francesca Valsecchi, Clarisa Diaz - Mistra Urban Futures,

    Gothenburg, Sweden, June 2013. ISBN 978-91-980696 – 0 – 0

  • (2009) Identità delle architetture plurali. Ruolo delle comunità nella fenomenologia della rete.

    Francesca Valsecchi. eds. Matteo Ciastellardi, “Le architetture liquide”, Milano, LED 9788879164160

  • (2008) Il progetto che viene dal basso. Francesca Valsecchi. in Ciuccarelli P., “Design Open Source”, Pp 141-185. Pitagora, Bologna, 2008

  • (2007) La complessità della conoscenza. Nuovi concetti per il design.

    Francesca Valsecchi. In Marisa Bertoldini, “La cultura politecnica. Vol. 2”, 2007, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 

Conference Papers (peer reviewed)

  • (2016) Resonances: Listening as a Tool for Trans-Cultural Storytelling. Francesca Valsecchi, Serena Pollastri, Roberta Tassi, eds. Lloyd, Peter and Bohemia, Erik (2016) Proceedings of DRS 2016 International Conference: Future-Focused Thinking ISSN 2398-3132

  • (2016) The meta-design of systems: how design, data and software enable the organizing of open,distributed, and collaborative processes.

    Massimo Menichinelli, Francesca Valsecchi

    Systems & Design. Beyond Processes And Thinking 2016. Editorial Universitat Politècnica de València


Honors and Awards

  • 2021 Power Station of Art, Shanghai Bienniale.
    Personal Exhibition: Underwater Forest

  • 2021 Power Station of Art, Shanghai Bienniale.
    Collective Exhibition

  • 2017, 2018, 2018 个人摄影展 Tongji Design Week

  • 2019 Circular Economy and Food Network International Exhibition with Ellen McArthur Foundation

  • 2019 个人摄影展 Laoximen.club 

  • 2019 Design Harvests 项目在米兰设计周展出 Design Fair. Milano Triennale

  • 2017 展览策展人: GOOD Innovation international exhibition, 好创新国际设计展2017深圳市宝安区宝源路

  • 2017 邀请项目: 刘海粟美术 “智·未来” | 2017中国信息与交互创新设计邀请展
    “Intelligence·Future”— 2017 CHINA INNOVATION EXHIBITION OF INFORMATION AND INTERACTION DESIGN -  http://www.shu-iids.com/iids-exhibition-2017/



Email francesca@tongji.edu.cn


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College of Design and Innovation, Tongji University