NORDES 20115: Design Ecologies: Challenging anthropocentrism in the design of sustainable futures (June 2015, Stockholm Sweden)

Dates: 7-10 June 2015
Location: Konstfack – University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm, Sweden
Deadline for submissions: 7 January 2015

Design hinges a natural-artificial continuum through humans’ natural capacity to produce what we call ‘the artificial’. At a time when human activity is threatening biodiversity and causing severe climate change, it becomes obvious that natural and artificial systems can no longer be conceived in isolation but only in relation to each other – or indeed as one.

The coupling of natural and artificial systems poses challenges due to its complexity and partly reveals the anthropocentrism that has traditionally characterised design. Several questions arise in this context. How can design practices embrace pluralism by recognising, in the manifestation of design itself, biological as well as cultural diversity? In other words, how do we in design, and beyond, move from the kind of ego-system we seem to be so trapped in towards the kind of eco-system everyone and everything can gain from? How are designers, educators and researchers of design currently engaging with these challenges, and how might or should they engage with them in the near future? Designers in Scandinavia have shaped and influenced many local human societies to an important extent through a legacy of democratic and user-centred values. How can these be extended to acknowledge and celebrate humans’ cohabitation on a global scale to also include the myriad of all other existing species and systems at alternative scales in time and space? How can the various design practices be genuinely sensitive to ecological complexity? And how can they be understood, designed and studied in relation to each other – or indeed as a whole?

Addressing these issues and many others, the Design Ecologies conference includes the following tracks:
Design and Approaches for Sustainability.

Design for Sustainability as we know it and as we might imagine it. This track is for both case studies we can learn from and more speculative alternative approaches. We especially invite submissions that scrutinize the tensions, and possible bridging, between: (i) radical and more incremental solutions, (ii) local and more global approaches and (iii) a non-anthropocentric versus a more anthropocentric design approach.

Design as a Political Agent.

Critical or Discursive Design as we know it and as we might imagine it. We especially encourage submissions that scrutinize the tensions, and possible bridging, between approaches that nurture a more critical versus a more constructive discourse.

Design and Sustainable Businesses.

Business- and management-driven design as we know it and as we might imagine it. We especially invite submissions that address the tensions, and possible bridging, between designing for (and running a business in) a growth versus a non- or post-growth economy.

Design and Sustainable Technologies.

Technology-driven design as we know it and as we might imagine it. We especially invite submissions that address the tensions, and possible bridging, between designing for a specified technology versus facilitating the design of plausible technologies for a specified goal.

Design and its Educations.

Sustainability in design educations as we know it and as we might imagine it. How can design education support students to become critical and creative in the light of the challenges that un/sustainability poses? We invite submissions that engage in visionary pedagogical approaches at all levels and especially those exploring the tension between ego- versus eco-awareness and the possibilities of bridging perspectives from both the ‘Global North’ and ‘South’.

Design and its Wild Cards.

What kind of hidden cards does design carry up its sleeve? This track is for all the papers that do not fit easily into the other themes. So don’t worry; we have a place for you that is more comfortable than rejection even if it might be not a perfect fit. While having very open criteria, we especially invite submissions that tackle failures, tensions and complexities with a critical and provocative but also a constructive view. To conclude, this additional track is for papers that are uncomfortable but worthy.

In order to develop the theme of Design Ecologies we invite a variety of disciplines to make contributions: full papers, exploratory papers, workshops, exhibitions and a doctoral consortium. Whilst being primarily underpinned by a core of established design and design research, NORDES also welcomes all new design voices – including perspectives ranging from the humanities to physics, from ethnography to art, from engineering to marketing. Papers may cover experimental and exploratory research approaches to design and the production of knowledge. Papers may also be based on historical, biological, geographical or philosophical studies that make qualified contributions to the field in terms of insights, concepts and ideas. Submissions are subject to an anonymous peer review process.

Accepted contributions will be published electronically in No 6 (2015): NORDES 2015: Design Ecologies, ISSN: 1604-9705, and will be available on the conference website prior to the conference.

All submissions should be in English. All submissions are subject to a double-blind peer review by at least two reviewers. Accepted contributions should be revised according to the review reports and the language should be checked by a native English speaker.

Invited submissions

Full papers

Full papers must be of the highest international standard and contribute significantly to research and practice within design. Nordes 2015 aims to be a multidisciplinary forum for emerging and current research areas that influence the various design disciplines. Full papers should be a maximum of ten pages including illustrations, figures and references. We encourage the use of visual material if the submissions. Papers will undergo double-blind peer reviews and accepted papers will be presented in the conference programme and published in the conference proceedings. The proceedings will be available as an open-access online database during and after the conference.

Exploratory papers

We invite the submission of exploratory papers that include design cases, position papers, work in progress, and emerging new research areas that may as yet lack solid theoretical foundations but point towards exciting new directions for design research. Exploratory papers should be a maximum of four pages including illustrations and references. We encourage the use of visual material if the submissions. Exploratory papers will undergo double-blind peer reviews and accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings. The proceedings will be made available as an open-access online database during and after the conference.


Workshops will enjoy a central position at Nordes 2015. The ambition is to create common experiences and to provide a variety of platforms for exchanging new ideas. A workshop proposal should be a maximum of two pages and state its purpose, a tentative programme for the day (or half a day), how attendees are accepted for participating in the workshop (e.g. through artefacts or position papers or just by signing up), and the requirements for the physical setting and materials.


Through the Nordes 2015 exhibition we wish to explore ways in which the display of works of art, craft and design can become a prominent venue for exchanging ideas and understanding. Artists, designers and researchers will be able to present their work to the conference attendees in dedicated exhibition sessions. We invite submissions of artefacts, installations and performances documented via pictures, videos or links to websites. A two-page paper explaining how the exhibition artefact relates to the conference’s overall theme of experimentation should accompany each submission. Papers and visual documentation will be included in the conference proceedings and made available through an open-access online database during and after the conference.

Doctoral consortium

The doctoral consortium is an opportunity for doctoral students to receive feedback on their projects from some of the prominent researchers and fellow doctoral students within the field of design research. It is also an excellent chance to get to know others in the same situation or to meet again after last year’s NORDES summer school. The doctoral consortium will take place immediately before the formal opening of the conference. Participants will be chosen based on the quality of their submissions. Submissions should be a maximum of four pages and can be published in the proceedings if the doctoral student wishes it. The proceedings will be made available as an open-access online database during and after the conference.

Important dates:

7 – 10 June 2015: Conference (Sunday – Wednesday)
1 December 2014: Submission system opens
7 January 2015: Submission deadline
20 March 2015: Author notification
20 April 2015: Submission of final versions

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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