Lecture

Complexity and design: fostering the dialogue for creating knowledge

In the last thirty years the interest in complexity has been constantly increasing in different disciplines, from biology to economics, from physic to sociology. The research for a comprehensive definition has foster the debate and has opened the discussion both in scientific both in philosophical fields. The so called complexity science emerged as a multidisciplinary discipline with no established methodology nor shared paradigm but a common goal: understanding those dense and intertwined systems that present unpredictable behaviours and non linear reaction on one hand, but develop emergent properties and self organising abilities on the other. Despite its knowledge on dealing with situations and environment that present all the characteristics of complex systems, design have just started sharing the same goal and partaking the debate. For its experience in acting within social human systems and real environments design emerges as a one of the most favourable platform for building knowledge about complex systems.

This paper depicts this new dialogue between design and complexity, as a valuable and meaningful exchange between disciplines that should be endorsed for a common benefit. The findings of the complexity science are useful for the design process insofar as are conceptual tools that foster the designer awareness of the system he is acting in and consequently his knowledge of design practice; and moreover the design discipline should play an active role in this dialogue providing practical experience, solution and tools: in particular Communication design should be aware of the importance of its role as the communication between elements is the key factor in understanding complex systems and the visual language has emerged as one of the most powerful tools in dealing with complex problems.

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