Systems Oriented Design

The designerly way to work with systems


Gigamapping is part of the systems oriented framework

The term gigamapping was introduced in 2009 by Birger Sevaldson in the context of the 2009 SOD design studio at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. In that studio, the designerly mapping techniques that were used before already from 2006 and onward were developed to a new level of complexity.

About Systems Oriented Design

The main mission of SOD is to help designers to become better at dealing with very complex problems. Complex problems are described as problem fields, networks of problems, wicked problems and problematiques.

Book: Designing Complexity

The Methodology and Practice of Systems Oriented Design – Birger Sevaldson’s book for designers in the widest sense, including any individual or organisation that is involved in change processes.

SOD is open source

If your project corresponds to all or most of the core parameters, you are welcome to reference it as a SOD project. We would appreciate it if you send us a reference to the project and material to publish on this website.

SOD Origins: Systemic Design as a Field of Possibilities

The idea of systemic design as a pluralistic field opens the possibilities to several different approaches to systemic design that are not only allowed but encouraged.

Systems and SOD-Related References

Resources of note: The list was started in 2009 and is updated occasionally.

Systems Oriented Design in a Nutshell

Systemic design is a pluralistic field of possibilities spanning from design practice and thinking to systems practice and thinking. SOD is a bit closer to design practice.

The Democracy Files

The Democracy Files is a resource of collected articles supporting our belief that design can play a crucial role in democracy.

The Mind Shifts of SOD

We need to make several small shifts in our understanding to truly grasp systems thinking in general and to start to become systemic designers.

SOD Foundations

Design thinking and design practice are potentially very powerful approaches to deal with super complexity

The world is rapidly changing, and the need to stay ahead of changes increases the complexity of the design process. Systems oriented design addresses these problems by developing systems thinking in design practice with concepts, techniques and methods developed by and for designers. Systems oriented design helps designers become better at dealing with complex problems. Complex problems are described as problem fields, networks of problems, wicked problems and problematiques.


Designing Complexity: The Methodology and Practice of Systems Oriented Design

by Birger Sevaldson

This book changes the way you think about designing. Instead of simplifying embrace richness. Instead of controlling you learn to live with uncertainty.

SOD is a living and adaptable methodology.  Though it is based on design thinking and design methodology, it is easily adapted and applied by anybody who is working with complex change processes.

Order the book

News blog

RSD11 Brighton

RSD11 Brighton

NORWAY DELEGATION 2022RSD11 was in Brighton this year from 12th to 16th October. It was a wonderful experience and we thank the organisers headed by Ben Sweeting from Brighton University. We were a large delegation from Norway with our executive master’s students and...

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Cat Drew speaks at SDA Norway

Cat Drew speaks at SDA Norway

The next SDA Norway seminar is 9th September 14:00-16:00 on ZOOM. Cat Drew from the British Design Counsil is our guest presenting Beyond Net Zero, the British Design Council's new systemic framework You need to register to the event. Please join us...

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RSD10 Announcement

RSD10 Announcement

  It’s official: RSD10 is November 3-6, 2021. Hosted by TU Delft, the symposium will be held in The Netherlands, and sessions will also be live-streamed. Updates are available on and

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SOD Masters at AHO

This master’s program is part time with two modules every semester. Each module has two seminars of three days, one in Oslo on site and one digital. The program goes over three years.