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

KS endorses SOD

KS endorses SOD

Radical innovation in municipal planning The Norwegian Association for Local and Regional Authorities (KS) is using Systems Oriented Design methodologies in their work. Their "Partnerskap for radikal innovasjon" is a program in KS geared towards radical innovation in...

read more
UNESCO Education for Sustainability framework

UNESCO Education for Sustainability framework

Report's eight key competencies can be applied as a SOD framework In 2017 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) published their report on how education needs to change and develop to prepare us for the big changes we face to reach a...

read more
Practice Oriented Systemic Design

Practice Oriented Systemic Design

Practice Oriented Systemic Design Oslo Metropolitan University offers a continuing education course in Practice Oriented Systemic Design – «EXTENDED APPLICATION DEADLINE 4 JANUARY 2021». In this course, you will learn to design concepts for and in complex projects....

read more

Second SDA Norway gathering

{niceslides:|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/8.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/7.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/6.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/5.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/4.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/3.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/2.jpg|images/Slide-SDA-Norway/1.jpg}   After a...

read more


This new PhD position in Systems Oriented Design (SOD) at AHO focuses on better understanding the drivers and mechanisms of sustainability transitions, and on creative, science-based and cooperative ways to implement solutions in the real world by systemic innovation....

read more

First SDA Norway gathering

Earlier this year we announced the first gathering for a Norwegian chapter of the Systemic Design Association (SDA). We were planning it to be held at DOGA, the Norway center for design and architecture. We limited the meeting to 90 participants.  The interest...

read more
New PhD thesis from TU Delft

New PhD thesis from TU Delft

    Jairo da Costa Junior from Brazil defended his doctoral thesis at the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft), the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY Embracing the complexity of energy challenges in...

read more
SDA Norway Gathering

SDA Norway Gathering

    For the first time we bring together everybody in Norway interested in Systems Oriented Design, or other forms of systemic design. People from abroad are welcome too.We establish the Norwegian branch of the Systemic Design Association through a gathering...

read more

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.