Alain Findeli: The Metamorphosis of the Designer – A Prerequisite to Social Transformation by Design

The title of this presentation is drawn from an essay by German Studies professor and Goethe expert Frederick Amrine titled “The Metamorphosis of the Scientist”. Amrine’s central argument is that if one carries out a scientific inquiry with a Goethean phenomenological approach, a metamorphosis takes place in the “inner world” of the researcher. For his Theory U, Otto Scharmer transferred what Goethe achieved for natural phenomena (physics, biology) to the observation of human individual and collective phenomena. But Scharmer went a step further: not only does he propose a new scientific approach to understand the economic, political, ecological, and spiritual phenomena of our world, he also introduces a design method to transform the existing situation. This presentation shows how the Theory U model of design is radically different from the more or less standard approaches used and taught in design.

Alain Findeli is Honorary Professor from the School of Industrial Design of the University of Montréal (Canada), where he has been teaching for about 30 years and founded the Master’s program in ‘Design and Complexity’, and Emeritus Professor from the University of Nîmes (France) where he co-founded the Master’s program in ‘Social Innovation by Design’. His research topics and recent publications cover more general philosophical issues of the theory and practice of design (epistemology, methodology, aesthetics, ethics) as well as some key pedagogical aspects of design research education (PhD). Recently, he introduced Otto Scharmer’s theory U model in the studio and his coaching activities.