Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Moduli: Valentina Gianfrate (Modulo 1) Elena Maria Formia (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Blended Learning (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Advanced Design (cod. 9256)

Learning outcomes

The module aims to lead the student to develop a process of understanding of the dynamics, actors, themes, processes that characterise the relationship between innovation and advanced design, in order to orient him/her towards a progressive synthesis of the Master's degree course. Through ex-cathedra lectures, seminars, and practice sessions, the main topics characterising contemporary innovation processes, into which the action of design will be embedded.

Course contents

The LABORATORY OF SYSTEMS DESIGN B C.I. is an integrated course consisting of the modules of the teachings Service Design for Innovation (6 CFU) and Analysis of the Built Environment (4 CFU)
The teaching of Service Design for Innovation will be divided into two contributions.

Module 1 will be managed by Prof. Valentina Gianfrate. Module 2, coordinated by Prof. Elena Formia, will be borrowed from the Advanced Design of Products and Services curriculum. The aim of both will be to guide students towards an exploration of design issues concerning design for innovation and research for design and by design, with an in-depth study of methods, tools and processes that can lead them to undertake the Master's thesis.
Module 1 and Module 2 take part in the University's didactic experimentation project, through a didactic form that envisages collaboration between the two Product and Service courses. The Modules ( under the title "Research Lab") are divided into 3 Phases. All Phases envisage forms of didactic innovation, according to the following three actions
- hybrid form of education; - internationalisation; - design thinking for research.
In Phases 1 and 3, the introduction of the hybrid model is planned.

Phase 1. Research Lab: Themes and Tools
In this phase, a path is undertaken to approach the choice of a research field and the writing of a master's thesis. In addition to methodological lessons (face-to-face), there is a problem-based and peer education approach consisting in the organisation of a co-design workshop, facilitated by lecturers and professionals, to identify, understand and cluster research topics (face-to-face/online). In fact, the course proposes a cognitive apparatus on global megatrends (demographic change, technological advancement, environmental sustainability and green economy, fighting inequalities), addressing them as elements of an integrated system, on which to define the impacts of a designer's actions. This cognitive framework is fed by multidisciplinary and multigenerational experts, with a strong participation of young creatives and designers engaged in actions in the different domains of innovation. The students are guided in a process of content co-construction based on their own research interests, gradually working in small thematic groups in which they develop forms of in-depth analysis and evaluation of their own research proposals. At the same time, collaborative boards and remote collaboration platforms are used to collect ideas, make them the shared legacy of the group and structure them in such a way that they remain in time through a process of continuous updating and research. 

Phase 2. Research Lab: Experiences
In this phase the students are invited to participate in a simulated design of international competitive research and action projects (e.g. New European Bauhaus, Horizon Europe), which is useful to integrate the training with languages and skills of adherence to specific requests related to the major European and global challenges, to assume awareness of European programming and to establish relations between global approach and local action. The students are called upon to work directly on the formats envisaged by the calls for proposals and to deal with forms of storytelling appropriate to the demands expressed by the calls.

Phase 3: Research Lab: Innovation Contexts
In this phase, a system of seminars with national and international guests is proposed (and co-constructed with them) to the students in order to understand where, what and whom to question in order to understand the Advanced Designer's research areas and future employment prospects. Therefore, the teaching envisages the involvement of Italian and foreign professionals, researchers and collectives linked to the cultures of design, but also to the themes of innovation and research, through frontal lectures, collective and individual work ( face-to-face/online). The meetings are organised in presence or remotely with the help of collaborative platforms that are activated in advance in order to share preparatory materials and specific supports for conscious participation in the proposed work sessions. They are complemented by forms of discussion and debate (in-presence), while the materials created online can be further fed by the students' results.


The lecturers will provide, in their lectures and revision sessions, precise references to texts, sites, journals and documents available for further study of the topics presented. In addition, bibliographic indications may be added as necessary for further study during the course of the course.
Suggested texts (being updated during the period September 2023-January 2024):

  • Celaschi, F., Deserti, A., Design e Innovazione, Carocci, Roma 2007
  • Celaschi, F., Non industrial design, Luca Sossella, Milano 2017
  • Connell, R. (2015). Writing for Research. Retrieved from www.raewynconnell.net
  • Formia, E. & Celi, M. (Eds.), Humanities Design Lab. Le culture del progetto e le scienze umane e sociali, Maggioli, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (RN) 2016
  • Formia, E., Storie di futuri e design. Anticipazione e sostenibilità nella cultura italiana del progetto, Maggioli, Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (RN) 2017
  • Formia, E., Gianfrate, V., Vai, e., Design e mutazioni. Processi per la trasformazione continua della città, Bologna, BUP - Bononia University Press, 2021
  • Friedman, K. (2014). Research Writing Resources. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/3068653/Friedman._2015._Free_Research_Writing_Resources_Books_to_Buy_and_Services
  • Zannoni, M. (2018). Progetto e interazione. Il design degli ecosistemi interattivi. Macerata: Quodlibet.
  • Teaching methods

    During the development of the course, students will be offered lectures/lectures of approximately 1-2 hours each by lecturers and/or guest lecturers.
    The course will also make use of a revision system for the students' work in the two Modules, depending on the teaching approach chosen by the lecturers. Reviews may, depending on the course teaching schedule, be individual, group or collective. Peer-to-peer reviews between students are also envisaged in which assessment models/tools will also be shared. Lecturers will communicate the nature, methods and timing at the beginning of the teaching activity.
    Students will be asked to carry out individual and/or group work depending on whether it corresponds to the research or project component of the course.
    Attendance is compulsory. It is recorded by the lecturers in class and students absent for more than 30% of the lessons will not be admitted to the final assessment.

    Assessment methods

    Presentation and discussion of the final homework for all modules of the Integrated Course (final exhibition of work). Each of the results obtained in the individual teaching modules will be assessed. The criteria will be communicated by the lecturers responsible for the teaching modules. The various assessments will form the overall final grade for each student (in part, the result of collective work and, in part, of individual work).

    Teaching tools

    The teaching envisages the use of multimedia tools and platforms in order to accelerate the digital literacy of male and female students, complete team-related skills, and facilitate open access and open knowledge processes.
    COLLABORATIVE BOARDS: Students and teachers can work remotely on project concepts and proposed topics using collaborative boards, such as Miro.
    REMOTE COLLABORATION PLATFORMS: Students/esses and lecturers can use the Microsoft Teams communication and collaboration platform, which provides dialogue tools (virtual meetings, chats, etc.), planning and filing and writing systems that can be accessed and edited by several people.
    VIRTUAL: Students and teachers can store materials and documents, record and share video lectures and project outputs, plan deliveries, exchange information and announcements.
    AIRTABLE: Students with the help of tutors can use the platform to share case studies, interviews, videos, data and to create an open and updatable repository for design students.
    Students are also introduced to the processes of data analysis and visualisation, both qualitative and quantitative, through open source tools such as DataBasic.io [http://databasic.io/] [http://databasic.io/ ] and to suites of easy-to-use web tools that foster data literacy.
    Collaboration with external facilities (Model Lab, Photo Lab, libraries, etc.).
    Participation in conferences, talks, exhibitions and/or educational visits.

    Office hours

    See the website of Valentina Gianfrate

    See the website of Elena Maria Formia


    Gender equality Industry, innovation and infrastructure Reduced inequalities

    This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.