81920 - Design Thinking

Course Unit Page


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

Gender equality Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The module aims to illustrate the methodological-design approach to the transformation of reality. The course prepares for the knowledge of a set of processes of observation of reality, simplified modeling and manipulation of the same. At the end the student knows:  disassemble the creative process in the phases that compose it in order to define the design process suitable for the resources, the times, the expected results;  recognize the characteristics of individuals with creative skills and learn how to lead the process towards outcomes in the value chain of a contemporary society;  develop projects that solve the problems identified through alternative and sustainable paths that generate measurable value.

Course contents

The course aims at defining services and solutions for the autonomy of people in their daily and social life within territorial contexts and their preparedness in facing emergency situations linked to events of various kinds (health emergencies, climatic emergencies, etc.). The "Design for Preparedness" theme will focus on autonomy and temporariness, analysing the conditions that limit people's autonomy, with particular reference to temporary citizens (migrants, students, homeless, etc.) according to a multidisciplinary approach that will combine the tools of design, data analysis and visualisation with sociological surveys and community engagement and participation strategies.
Design for Preparedness aims to optimise experiences and anticipate future emergencies of various kinds by hypothesising their impact, especially on the most fragile groups, and identifying suitable solutions to mitigate their negative effects on people's quality of life. Created to respond to environmental disasters, wars, etc., this field of investigation can also be extended to the current period of health emergencies, activating a process of involvement of key actors and citizens and creating a prepared society that is able to manage possible future events.
The course intends to work on people's "preparedness" starting from the conditions of autonomy and temporariness that characterise their lives.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
The course will allow students to:
- develop tools, approaches and visions that, starting from the relationship between the individual-community and the environment, generate greater awareness of the transition process towards sustainable and accessible urban models.
-Investigate and propose new types of collective relations and dynamics, stimulating a mindset open to the macro dimension of society, as well as to the micro dimension of the individual.
-Looking at society as a constantly changing organism, listening and observing micro and macro contexts, with the objective of extracting and enhancing the qualities, explicit needs and unexpressed potential of places
-Collaboration in inclusive processes for the co-creation of goods and services, and for the integrated development of a territory or community


Gianfrate V. Formia E., Vai E. (2021) Design e mutazioni. Processi per la trasformazione continua della città. pp.7-283 - ISBN:978-88-6923-761-4

Gianfrate V., Antonucci M., Aragall F. (2020) Design for People Autonomy. DOI:10.6092/issn.2612-0496/12589. pp.1-7. In EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CREATIVE PRACTICES IN CITIES AND LANDSCAPES - ISSN:2612-0496 vol. 3 (2)

Gianfrate V., Longo D., Urban micro-design. Tecnologie integrate, adattabilità e qualità degli spazi pubblici, collana Ricerche di tecnologia dell’Architettura, Franco Angeli, 2017, ISBN 978-88-917-4294-0

Gianfrate V., Gaspari J., Longo D. (2017). Co-design for Resilience: Solutions, Services and Technologies for Urban Spaces. In: (a cura di): Giampaolo Campana;Robert J. Howlett;Rossi Setchi;Barbara Cimatti, Sustainable Design and Manufacturing 2017. p. 505-514, 6330 Cham, Switzerland:Springer, ISBN: 978-3-319-57077-8, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-57078-5_48

Gianfrate V., Boeri A., Longo D., Lorenzo V., (2017). Resilient communities. Social infrastructures for sustainable growth of urban areas. A case study. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING, vol. 12, p. 227-237, ISSN: 1743-7601, doi: 10.2495/SDP-V12-N2-227-237

Celaschi, F. (2008). Design as Mediation between areas of Knowledge. In Germak, C. (ed.). Man at the Centre of the Project. Design for a New Humanism, Torino, Italy: Allemandi,19–31.

Maldonado, T. (1987). Il futuro della modernità. Milano, Italy: Feltrinelli.

Lynch K.(1996), Progettare la città. La qualità della forma urbana, Etas.

Montanari Fabrizio, Mizzau Lorenzo, (2016), “I luoghi dell'innovazione aperta. Modelli di sviluppo territoriale e inclusione sociale”, [pp. 175-180] in Quaderni n.55, Fondazione Brodolini, pp. 216


Teaching methods

The course includes: -Lessons in blended mode -Lessons with experts -External workshops -Participation in workshop days organized by FIU -Lecture hall design exercises (Scenario Building, strategic design, metadesign, communication) -Laboratory activities in groups
The lessons will be aimed at the realization of a service product project: i.e. a complex system in which physical products integrate or extend to include the intangible component of the service.
The training course will take place:
-as a collective creative process in particular in the investigation phase of the individual-community-environment relationship,
-As an autonomous process, in which each student will explore the different aspects of relationship design.

Assessment methods

The assessment will be carried out in several steps that include:
A) User analysis and design research: content collection and organization, Personas user and development analysis, analysis of technological and cultural scenarios, research and analysis of cases and examples,
B) Definition of the project concept: development and presentation of fundamental ideas and concepts of the user experience that one wants to plan, motivations and objectives of the project, first feasibility assessment and work plan.
C) Design and development of the concept: development of the general interaction and content architecture model, user interface design, first prototypes to evaluate the interaction modalities and the usability of the project.
D) Technologies and prototyping: introduction to the basic technologies for THE PRODUCT / SERVICE
F) Prototype realization and final presentation: implementation of a demonstration prototype and realization of the final presentation of the project.

Teaching tools

Fields Experiences 

Design Thinking Tools


In-depth seminars

Office hours

See the website of Valentina Gianfrate

See the website of Guglielmo Ori