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Design for Sustainability I - EPFL

  • Teacher(s):   M.Laperrouza   M.Aeberli  
  • Course given in: English
  • ECTS Credits: 3 credits
  • Schedule: Autumn Semester 2022-2023, 2.0h. course + 1.0h exercices (weekly average)
  •  sessions
  • site web du cours course website
  • Related programme: Master of Science (MSc) in Information Systems
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This course aims to explore and practice some of the fundamental tools of designing for sustainability with a focus on the sustainability, desirability and economic viability of solutions.

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Identify opportunities for ill-defined problems through a structure design process
  • Apply a sustainability-centered design process
  • Develop a project proposal
  • Communicate effectively with professionals from other disciplines


Design for Sustainability takes the participants through practical concepts, tools and processes to propose design solutions that aim to improve the co-existence of humans, preserve biodiversity, and life-supporting systems. It integrates environmental, economic, social and cultural dimensions. The course explores approaches at different levels (material, product, product-service system, social innovation, and system transformation). It covers the framing, ideation and prototyping phases of designing for sustainability.

The course builds on the blueprint proposed by the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. It addresses global and local challenges challenging traditional innovation mindsets and business models.

Sessions in the fall semester are devoted to discover and define a project opportunity through a structured design approach. Sessions will comprised both theoritical approaches and practical activities. During the spring semester, sessions are devoted to the prototyping of a solution through a project-based approach.

Teams will be made up of engineers (EPFL), industrial designers (ECAL) and social scientists (UNIL).

As part of the TILT program, there will be one online and asynchronous workshop per semester aimed at strengthening professional competences (interdisciplinary and team work, etc.).

Keywords: design process, desirability, viability, sustainability, prototyping, interdisciplinarity

More information on:

IMPORTANT: This course runs over the Fall AND Spring semesters (3 ECTS for each semester)


  • Ceschin, F., & Gaziulusoy, I. d. (2020). Design for sustainability : a multi-level framework from products to socio-technical systems. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Manzini, E. (2015). Design, when everybody designs : an introduction to design for social innovation.Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  • Papanek, V. J. (1972). Design for the real world; human ecology and social change. New York,: Pantheon Books.
  • Thompson, P. B., & Norris, P. E. (2021). Sustainability : what everyone needs to know. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Verganti, R. (2016). Overcrowded : designing meaningful products in a world awash with ideas. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press
  • Wizinsky, M. (2022). Design after capitalism : transforming design today for an equitable tomorrow. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.



Ce cours est limité à 10 inscriptions. Les inscrits seront choisi dans l'ordre d'arrivée. Inscription par email à - Délai des inscriptions: 28 septembre 2022 au plus tard.


First attempt

Without exam (cf. terms)  

The course will be assessed on the basis of:

  • Documentation of design process: 40% (group, during the semester)
  • Project blueprint: 40% (group, end of the semester)
  • Reflexive note: 20% (individual, end of the semester)


Without exam (cf. terms)  

As a retake, the student will be asked to present a new intervention blueprint and a new reflexive note.

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