Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design

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Founded in 1863, Politecnico di Milano is a leading research and educational institution worldwide. Offering innovative programs at all levels within its schools of Engineering, Architecture, and Design, it is in the top 10 worldwide of the ranking by Subject in Arts & Design of the QS ranking. Its Design Department was founded as the first Italian Department for Research in Design. It promotes the significance of design as a key element of research and education, able to act within the various processes of production of tangible and intangible goods, focusing on the central role of individuals, communities, and society as a whole, and with a leading role in the interplay between industrial settings, public and private sectors, public administrations, and universities. The research team involved in the Human Cities research project is part of the Polimi DESIS Lab within the international DESIS Network – Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability, a group of researchers adopting a systemic approach to design, with a specific focus on design for spaces and services. and design activism.

https://www.desis.polimi.it https://www.dipartimentodesign.polimi.it

People involved

Davide Fassi PhD, Full professor in Design at Politecnico di Milano. Coordinator of the Polimi Desis Lab on research about design for social innovation and sustainability. Rector's delegate for cultural activities. His research is about the relationship between space and service with a community-centred approach. Awarded with XXV Compasso d’Oro in 2018 for the project “campUS – incubation and settings for social practices”. Scientific leader of Off Campus Nolo, a neighbourhood living lab. He is the Coordinator of the SMOTIES project.
Annalinda De Rosa PhD, Researcher in Design at Politecnico di Milano, she is part of the Polimi DESIS Lab. She is Professor at the School of Design of Politecnico and at the MSc Innovation and Technology Management of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan). Her research concerns the relationship between Spaces and Services (S+S), specifically focusing on design-driven models for incubating innovative processes to improve social cohesion through participatory design in urban and rural areas. She is the Project Manager of the SMOTIES project.
Paola Russo Research fellow at Politecnico di Milano, she earned her MSc degree in Product-Service System Design at Politecnico, with the thesis "Coltivando from theory to practice, diary of Paola Russo's co-design activities" concerning Coltivando, the convivial garden at Politecnico di Milano. The thesis focuses on the co-design activities developed during the first months of the project to tackle the crucial problems of the orchard system together with the garden community. She is also a small entrepreneur managing her ironic and colorful papercraft illustration brand “Le Paolette”. She is the Project Assistant of the SMOTIES project.
Valentina Auricchio PhD, Assistant professor in Design at Politecnico di Milano. She teaches in the MSc in Product-Service System Design and in the Product Design Bachelor degree. Her research is focused on Design Methods and managing strategic design projects with small and medium industries including Design Thinking processes. Her interest is in design processes, methods and tools and their application within different sectors for strategic innovation. She is part of the Polimi DESIS Lab and of the international DESIS Network.
Vanessa Monna PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Design of the Politecnico di Milano within the PoliMI DESIS Lab, and Teaching Assistant in the BSc of Product Design and the MSc of Product-Service System Design at the School of Design. Her PhD research regarded the emerging topic of Civic Design, which she explored to systematise the existing knowledge and build a theoretical framework. She was a Visiting Scholar at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Before her PhD, she collaborated with many national and international institutions as a Fellow Researcher.
Laura Galluzzo PhD, Assistant professor in Design at Politecnico di Milano. She is operational manager of POLIMI DESIS Lab. Her research focus is on participative projects of (public) spaces and services. She has a specific expertise in the co-design of spaces as activators of collaborative actions, community hub, incubators of social practices. She has been a researcher in various national and international research programmes on this topic. She works on the relationship between Spaces and Services (S+S) design with a focus on temporary interventions, domestic and urban transformations.
Alexandra Coutsoucos Research fellow at Politecnico di Milano, she earned her BSc degree in Product Design from Politecnico and a MSc degree in Strategic Product Design from TU Delft. Alexandra has over six years of practical experience as a service design practitioner in international contexts. In addition to her academic endeavors, Alexandra also works as an independent strategic and service designer, specializing in applying participatory approaches to address urban development challenges, focusing on pressing issues of social and environmental sustainability.
Marco Finardi Service designer collaborating with Polimi DESIS Lab, holds a BSc degree in Product Design and an MSc degree in Product-Service System Design from Politecnico di Milano. He developed his master thesis contributing to the SMOTIES research project, which he then collaborated on as independent researcher. His work is focused on investigating how participatory processes take shape in different fields, exploring the artistic and relational approaches to community engagement and co-creation of meanings, contributing to critically rethink co-design tools and practices towards a pluriversal and caring direction. In addition to his academic collaborations, Marco works as an independent designer especially in the performative sector cooperating with Ecate Cultura Association.
Nadia Pirovano Research fellow at Politecnico di Milano. In the last two years, she has been involved in the Off-Campus Nolo project of Polimi DESIS Lab. In addition to her academic commitments, she is a freelancer and works in different fields, from ephemeral architecture (temporary exhibitions, entertainment festivals and television) to interior design, collaborating with event agencies, television channels, and design studios. Thanks to these skills, she manages creative projects' technical and operational development.

Masterclasses and training

Politecnico di Milano carried out several masterclasses within the SMOTIES project. More than 200 students developed 43 design ideas for Basso Monferrato, the Italian remote area. 

Explore all projects featured in the “43 Visions for the Future of the Lower Monferrato” catalogue.

Ephemeral Design Course | A.Y. 2021/22

Master in Interior and Spatial Design, School of Design of Politecnico di Milano
Professors: Davide Fassi, Anna Meroni | Teaching assistants: Paola Russo, Mariane Unanue Garcia

The course focused on designing solutions for spaces and services in public places in Albugnano through co-design and tools to imagine and develop possible futures. More than 40 students developed ten possible scenarios for the future of four public spaces in Albugnano: the viewpoint Motta, the Vezzolano Abbey square, the Regional Winery, and the Romanesque churchs routes.

Workshop on Designing public spaces in small and remote places | A.Y. 2021/22

Master in Design for Public Spaces, POLI.design Consortium of Politecnico di Milano
Professors: Davide Fassi | Teaching assistants: Ambra Borin, Mariane Unanue Garcia

The workshop aimed to design future spatial strategies for Albugnano, with a focus on the interior spaces of Ca’Mariuccia, a local ethical farm, the large parking lot of Vezzolano Abbey, and the entrance of the new Regional Winery of Albugnano, to entice residents and tourists to experience and revive these spaces.

Design Thinking and Start-Up Launch Course | A.Y. 2022/23

Master in Innovation and Technology Management, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano
Professor: Annalinda De Rosa

The course focused on designing entrepreneurial ideas for innovative technological/digital start-ups in Basso Monferrato. Starting from the identification of creative and social potentials, opportunities and challenges for the growth of cultural and economic value, students defined proposals for different economic sectors in Basso Monferrato, aimed at stimulating the active participation of historical and ‘new’ residents, the attractiveness of the area, and the creation of interaction models between different stakeholders.

Metadesign Studio | A.Y. 2022/23

Bachelor in Interior Design, School of Design of Politecnico di Milano
Professors: Luisa Collina, Laura Galluzzo, Massimo Antinarelli, Maria Rosaria Scelsi
Teaching assistants: Ambra Borin, Alessandra Litta Buttè, Valentina Facoetti, Claudia Mastrantoni

The course focused on designing hospitality and tourism service solutions for the municipalities of Albugnano, Aramengo, Pino D’Asti, and Gonengo in Basso Monferrato area. The students developed twenty-four possible scenarios for the future of four buildings: a commercial building in Aramengo, a former primary school in Gonengo, a former rectory-Pro Loco in Pino D’Asti, and a former rectory-oratory of Albugnano.

Check out a selection of our students’ projects!

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