Paola Trapani

Paola Maria Trapani

Product-Service System Master Director

Brief Introduction

  • Since 2018, Paola Trapani is Associate Professor of Design and Director of the Master in Product Service System Design (PSSD) at the College of Design and Innovation of Tongji University in Shanghai. She holds a master’s degree in Architecture and a Ph.D. in Design from Politecnico di Milano.

  • She is a licensed architect and a PSSD specialist following an interest in living a quality life while consuming less and reducing the environmental footprint. Her research interest revolves around the fundamental questions: How can we extend the value and performance of artifacts and make them accessible to people without necessarily enforcing private ownership? How can design support people through life’s major transitions, alleviating asset-related responsibilities?

  • Her expertise ranges across product service-system innovation, human experience sense-making, design thinking, design research writing, participatory design, and co-design. In the latter area, she researches new meta-tools for the designer-facilitator to handle the human factor, including group focus and long-term motivation.

  • In China, she has collaborated with Boeing, Peace Park Foundation, Yinno - City of Tomorrow in Shenzhen. Before, she has constantly paired consulting in the industrial sector with academic professorship. Her clients include cultural institutions such as Teatro alla Scala, Triennale di Milano, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Festival di Spoleto, Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Los Angeles, and companies like IGPDecaux and Costa Crociere. In academia, she is Visiting Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, Jiangnan University, and the San Francisco State University. She has also worked for Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland (NZ), Universitá degli Studi di Milano, and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.

  • She has dozens of international publications and is a referee at international conferences. In 2013, she was co-curator of the exhibition for the 150 years of the Politecnico di Milano, hosted at the Triennale, which had over 10,000 visitors.


  • Research team member, Head of PSS innovation. Client: Boeing China. Future Aviation Food Service System, 2019.

  • Scientific Director. Shanghai Summit Discipline IV in Design. Client: College of Design&Innovation, Tongji University, Shanghai. Improving the usability of D&I academic activity workflow via Service Design, 2019.

  • Scientific Director. Client: Yingtou, Shenzhen. Sustainable life and working styles for a fluid and dynamic use of the spaces of the new urban complex Yinno City in Shenzhen. One year of research, 2019.

  • Research team member. Client: Peace Parks Foundation. Supporting the use of design innovation and learning to affect social change related to the environment and wildlife exploitation, 2018.

  • Research Team Leader for the Kaipatiki Project, Research Voucher, funded by Tūāpapa Rangahau, Unitec, Auckland, 2017.

  • Chief Investigator for Backery. Sure to rise talents. Foci aligned research funding, FRSC, Unitec, Auckland, 2016.

  • Research Team Leader for Urban Auckland, Creative Industries, Unitec, Auckland, 2016.

  • Research Fellow for Archivivial: users’ scenarios for the convivial archive. Co-founded by the Politecnico di Milano and the Triennale di Milano.” VISA sponsored by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), 2010-2011.

  • Member of the Politecnico di Milano research team (partner) in Human cities 2: Reclaiming the Public Space and Human Cities 1: Celebrating public space. Funded by the European Commission Action – Culture, 2008-2010.

Teaching at TJ D&I

  • Design Research and Writing, postgraduate full-time students, 2021, 2020, 2019; postgraduate part-time, 2019.

  • Product-service system innovation, postgraduate full-time students, 2021  

  • Co-design Methods and Tools, postgraduate full-time students, 2021, 2020

  • Summer School, PSSD Master Program, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018

  • Studio 2, postgraduate full-time students, 2019

  • Design, innovation and entrepreneurship 1.0, MOOC series, 2019

  • PSSD-Project Research Industry Report, postgraduate part-time students, 2019

  • Studio 1, PSSD Master, full-time students, 2019

  • Design for sustainability, guest critique, postgraduate, 2020

  • PSSD for Social Innovation, guest lecturer, undergraduate, 2019

  • Transition Design, Seminar, postgraduate part-time students, 2019

  • Design Frontiers, guest lecturer, undergraduate, 2019

Other Teaching

  • Literature Review and Scientific Writing, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2020

  • Service Design, Jiangnan University, undergraduate, 2019

  • Make Government great again, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2017.

  • Tangible Traces, Understanding the design as a relational narrative, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2016.

  • Designing MultipliCITY. When designers contribute to forward-thinking strategies for complex challenges of the city of tomorrow, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2016.

  • Comparative Critical Reading, Unitec, prostgraduate, 2015, 2016, 2017.

  • Negotiated Studies, Negotiated Studies (extended), Unitec, prostgraduate, 2015, 2016.

  • Service Design for Housing, Unitec, prostgraduate, 2015, 2016, 2017.

  • Networks and Services, Unitec, prostgraduate, 2015, 2016, 2017.

  • Creative Practice Project (Extended), Unitec, prostgraduate, 2016.

  • Research Project, Unitec, prostgraduate, 2016.

  • Āhua Toi Māori: Kaitakitanga And Mauri In Contemporary Creative Practice, Unitec, prostgraduate, 2016.

  • Design for Social Innovation, Unitec, undergraduate, 2017.

  • The Water Festival for Expo 2015, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2014.

  • Design To Live: Inclusive Design in the Majority World. Guest lecturer and critique, San Francisco State University, Graduate Design Seminar, 2012, 2013.

  • The Water Festival for Expo 2015, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2014.

  • Service narrative, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2014, 2013, 2012.

  • Visual and Multimodal Communication, Università degli Studi di Milano, Bachelor of Digital Communication, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.

  • Digital Imaging Techniques, Adjunct Professor, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Master for Digital Archivist, 2012, 2011, 2010.

  • Visual Communication, Università degli Studi di Milano, Bachelor of Digital Communication, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002.

  • Multimedia Systems, Università degli Studi di Milano, Bachelor of Digital Communication, 2010, 2009, 2008.

  • Kitchen gardens for town people, Politecnico di Milano, Milan Design Week workshop, 2009.

  • Ethical/ethnic/fair design and business cases, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2008.

  • Virtual Reality, Università degli Studi di Milano, Bachelor of Digital Communication, 2009, 2008, 2007.

  • System-product design studio, Politecnico di Milano, prostgraduate, 2007, 2006, 2005.

  • Desktop publishing and 2D graphics tools, Università degli Studi di Milano, Bachelor of Digital, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

  • The Four Strategies of Advertising: Mythical, Referential, Oblique, Substantial, IGPDecaux, Assago (MI), 2011.

  • Visual Communication for the Out of Home Advertising. IGPDecaux, Assago (MI), 2011.

Academic and social Post

As the director of the PSSD Master in Tongji D&I, she is in charge of the academic leadership and management of the program. She oversees the design, development, and delivery of the curriculum and its relationship to design research. Learning & teaching issues, assessment of students, selections and admissions to the program are under her responsibility. She also manages and appraises the faculty performance annually, including support in the planning, carrying out, and public dissemination of high-quality research.

Education Background

  • 2003, License to professional practice in Architecture, Politecnico di Milano

  • 2001, Ph.D. in Industrial Design and Multimedia Communication, Politecnico di Milano

  • 1995, MSc in Architecture (5 years degree)

  • 2010, 2013, 2014 Research grants from the Politecnico di Milano

Work Experience

  • IGPDecaux, Milano, PSS Strategist at Marketing Division, 2010 / 2012

  • Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Los Angeles, Art Director, 2010

  • Cantieri Verdi, Milano, Art Director and Chief UX Designer 2004/2010

  • Festival di Spoleto, Digital Media Art Director, 2003

  • Costa Crociere, Genova, Art Director E-Business, 1998 / 2003

  • Triennale di Milano, Multimedia Managing Curator Assistant,1998

  • Bibloteca Ambrosiana di Milano, Digital Art Media Director, 1998

  • Teatro alla Scala, Milano, Digital Media Art Director, 1995, 1996, 1997



  • Trapani, P., Cervinscaia, N., Monelli, M. 2021. “Lost in transition. PSSD for major life transition.” In TBC. Cumulus Roma 2020, IT: Cumulus, Cham.

  • Trapani, P. 2019. “Designing Co-Design: Addressing Five Critical Areas to Increase the Experience of Participants and Facilitator in a Co-Design Session.” In Orlando, FL: Springer, Cham.

  • Trapani, P., Collina, L., Camocini, B., Daglio, L., & Mazzarello, M. 2018. “The Transition to a New University Campus as an Opportunity for the Urban Regeneration of the Former Milan Expo 2015 Areas.” In Cross-Cultural De- sign. Applications in Cultural Heritage, Creativity and Social Development., 10912:391–408. CCD 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Las Vegas: Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92252-2_31.

  • Collina, L., Camocini, B., Daglio, L., & Mazzarello, M. & Trapani, P. 2018. “Service Design Methods and Tools as Support to the Participatory Defi- nition of the Meta-Design Brief of a Contemporary Integrated Campus.” In Service Design Proof of Concept. Vol. Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings No. 150. Milan: Linköping University Electronic Press. URL: www.ep.liu.se/ecp/contents.asp?issue=150.

  • Trapani, P. 2018. “Collaborative Housing as a Response to the Housing Crisis in Auckland.” 1/2018. OCCASIONAL AND DISCUSSION PAPER SERIES. Auckland: Unitec ePress. https://www.unitec.ac.nz/epress/index.php/collab- orative-housing-as-a-response-to-the-housing-crisis-in-auckland/.

  • Trapani, Paola, Marie-Caroline Lefort, Ngaire Molyneux, Evangelia Papoutsaki, and Gregor Steinhorn. 2017. “The Sustainable Whānau Challenge 2016: A Multi-Factor Assessment Tool to Rank Lifestyle Shifts towards Sustainability Based on Predicted Impact.” Innovate ITP Research Reports 2/2017. Auckland: Unitec ePress. https://unitec.researchbank.ac.nz/handle/10652/4019.

  • Trapani, P., & Witehira, J. (2015). The Whakarare Typeface: When Cul- ture-Specific Visual Design Brings Elements Of Universal Value. In L. Colli- na, L. Galluzzo and A. Meroni (Eds.), The Virtuous Circle. Design, Culture and Experimentation. Cumulus Milan 2015 Conference proceedings (pp. 414-442). Milan, Italy: McGraw-Hill Education.

  • Trapani, P. (2014). Milan 2033. Seeds of the future. In T. Franqueira and J. Sampaio (Eds.), What’s on: Cultural Diversity, Social Engagement, Shifting Education. Cumulus Aveiro 2014 Conference proceedings (pp. 55-65). Aveiro, Portugal: University of Aveiro Publisher.

  • Collina, L., & Trapani P. (2014). Milan 2033. Seeds of the future. How the current Research and design experiments will shape our lives in the cities of tomorrow. In G. Cairns (Ed.), Architectecture_MPS (p. 57). London, UK: University Ravensbourne.

  • L. Collina, P. Trapani with F. Bucci (2013). Seeds of the Future. 150 years of the Politecnico di Milano. Exhibition, Oct. 8 - Dec. 22, Milan, Italy: Trien- nale di Milano.

  • Trapani P., & Goličnik Marušić, B. (2012). Community Centred Approach: A Way Of Reclaiming Public Space. In R. Houlstan-Hasaerts, B. Tominc, M. Nikšič & B. Goličnik Marušić (Eds.), Human Cities - Civil Society Reclaims Public Space. Cross Perspectives Based on Research (pp. 98-100). Ljubljana, Slovenia: Urbani Izziv Publikacije.

  • Meroni, A., Simeone, G., & Trapani, P. (2011). Case study 17. Supporting social innovation in food networks. In A. Meroni & D. Sangiorgi (Eds.), Design for Services (pp. 190-200). Surrey, UK: Gower Publishing.

  • Meroni, A. & Trapani, P. (2010). Social innovation, collaborative networks and public space. In L. Coirier, B. Goličnik Marušić, & Matej Nikšič (Eds.), Human Cities - Celebrating public space (pp 18-22). Oostcamp, Belgium: Stichting Kunstboek bvba.

  • Meroni, A., Simeone, G., & Trapani, P. (2009). Servizi per le reti agroali- mentari. Il Design dei Servizi come contributo alla progettazione delle aree agricole periurbane. In Ferraresi G. et al. (Eds.), Produrre e scambiare valore territoriale. Dalla città diffusa allo scenario di forma urbis et agri. Florence, Italy: Alinea Editrice.

  • Meroni, A., Simeone, G., & Trapani, P. (2009). Envisioning sustainable urban countryside. Service Design as contribute to the rururban planning. In J. Maciak, C. Vilain and J. Franc (Eds.), Design & Recherche. Cumulus Working Papers 21/08, Sain-Etienne, France (pp. 43-47). Helsinki, Finland: Ed. University of Art and Design.

  • Meroni, A., Simeone, G., & Trapani, P. (2008). A vision of an urban country- side. Service Design as a contribution to rururban planning. In C. Cipolla & P.P. Peruccio (Eds.), Changing the change. Design Visions, Proposals and Tools (pp. 1072-1082). Turin, Italy: Umberto Allemandi Editore.

  • Alberti, M.A., & Trapani, P. (2005). Integrating Cultural Content and Infor- mation Technologies in Cross-Media Platforms, in Multimedia. Informa- tion@DEsign for Cultural Heritage - MIDECH 2005, Milan, Italy.

  • Alberti, M.A., Brogi, A., Dusio, L., Garcia, M., Knobloch, S., & Trapani, P. (2004). Controsenso, But Not Too Much: Digital artifacts to Ease Commu- nication and Exchange with Seeing-Impaired People. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2004: Sketches & applications, Los Angeles, California.

  • Alberti, M.A., Brogi, A., & Trapani, P. (2004). Genova 2004: A Test-Bed for Industrial Design Students to Integrate Cultural Content and Information Technologies in Cross-Media Platforms. ACM SIGGRAPH 2004: Educators Program, Los Angeles, California.

  • Alberti, M.A., Maggiorini, D., & Trapani, P. (2002). NARTOO: a tool based on semiotics to support the manipulation of a narrative. In Computational Semiotics for Games and New Media - COSIGN02, Ausburg, Germany.

  • Alberti, M.A., Maggiorini, D., & Trapani, P. (2002). A semiotic approach to narrative manipulation. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2002: Sketches & applica- tions, San Antonio, Texas.

  • Alberti, M.A., & Trapani, P. (1999). On the Opera Theatre Simulation. In M.A. Alberti, G. Gallo & I. Jelinek (Eds.), Eurographics ’99: Short Papers and Demos, The Eurographics Association.

  • Alberti, M.A., Bertolo, M., Genuizzi, E., Marini, D., & Trapani, P. (1999). Generatore di danze barocche virtuali per il teatro interattivo. In AI*IA Notizie, Associazione Italiana per l’intelligenza artificiale, anno XII n. 3.

  • Alberti, M. A., Marini, D. & Trapani, P. (1998). The Interactive Theatre. In ACM Multimedia 98: Art Demos, Technical Demos & Poster Papers. Wilt- shire, UK: Cromwell Press.

  • Alberti, M. A., Marini, D., & Trapani, P. (1998). Experimenting Web Tech- nologies to Access an Opera Theatre. ED-MEDIA/ED-TELECOM 98. Freiburg, Germany: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education-AACE.

  • Alberti, M.A., Bertolo, M., Marini, D., Genuizzi, E., & Trapani, P. (1998). Il teatro interattivo. In Cultural Heritage Networks Hypermedia. Medici Framework Day. Milan, Italy: DISET - Politecnico di Milano.

  • Alberti, M.A., Bertolo, Genuizzi, E., M., Maninetti, P., Marini, D., Marini, M., Nasella, M., Paroni, D., & Trapani, P. (1998). Il Teatro Virtuale. In F. Cera- mi (Ed.), Monumedia 1998 (p. 205). Naples, Italy: Fredericiana University Press, Electa.

  • Alberti, M.A., Bertolo, Calvino Prina, F., Genuizzi, E., M., Maninetti, P., Marini, D., Marini, M., Nasella, M., Pannuto, D., Paroni, D., Trapani, P. & Waha, R. (1998). Il Teatro Virtuale. In F. Fischnaller (Ed.), Virtuality&In- teractivity. Arte Multimediale (p. 70-71). Florence, Italy: Edizioni Regione Toscana.

  • Trapani, P. (1997). Lautriv Chromagnon Medusa & Intelligent skin. Interfac- es ’97, Montpellier, France.

  • Trapani, P. (1997). La ScalaWeb. Linea Grafica, n.309, 24-31.

  • Guizzo, M., Marini, D., Rossi, M., & Trapani, P. (1997). Strumenti WEB per la sperimentazione di interventi di restauro di monumenti antichi. In L. Moltedo (Ed.), Conoscenza per immagini ‘97 (pp. 49-56). Milan, Italy: Il Rostro Ed.



Email:paola [at] tongji.edu.cn


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