DfCE : Design for Circular Economy

In 2016, I was selected for the Schmidt-MacArthur Fellowship under Ellen MacArthur Foundation, United Kingdom. An international programme for postgraduate students and academics on the circular economy, the fellowship provides support for design, engineering and business students to explore innovative and creative opportunities in the transition to a circular economy.

Under this fellowship, I had the chance to interact with some of the brightest minds in design, technology and business, and have discourses on enabling a circular economic ecosystem. Leaping from linear process of usage, consumption and disposal, circular economy believes in the core principle of re-circling material resource and reserve existing stock for a sustainable and resource-abundant tomorrow, circular economy enables resource effective ecosystems today by ensuring collaborative usage, shift to renewable sources of energy and improved manufacturing processes and logistic cycles. With this, Design-for-Circular-Economy (DfCE) is one of the first stepping stones towards creating future ecosystems of well-being living.

Based on the expert talks and Schmidt-MacArthur fellowship’s summer school along with studying and researching on transition design methodologies for effective implementation of circular economy, here are 9 design directions or design trends which are destined for a holistic and systemic impact. These trends can be used and explored as initial design directives for a systemic design journey. Although, not directly, these design trends influence and facilitate gradual shift to a more circular economic ecosystem by appreciating the fundamentals on which designs are created and implemented.


Nine Design Trends and Directions for Design for Circular Economy (DfCE)

Design Intervention Cards for DfCE:

Mapping the design journeys of several corporate houses with the principles of circular economy, 14 design methods have been compiled and narrowed down to, which intends to aid design students, design thinkers and professionals in their design ideations. These methods can either be used alone or be clubbed together as per the need or wish of the reader of the cards.

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Design Intervention Cards for DfCE : 14 trigger cards to facilitate innovators and design thinkers for holistic circular economic design interventions

How to use the cards:

The DfCE design intervention cards are created to facilitate designers and design thinkers to ideate concepts and solutions towards creating a circular economic impact. The cards are designed to be readily used during idea brainstorming sessions among design peers, primarily helpful in co-creation situations where the card directions can be discussed with the stakeholders of the design brief set.

These cards are segregated methods or principles that can be used as design ideation method cards and can accompany any other design toolkit, wherever the intention is to emerge to a circular economic solution.

The DfCE Di cards have been extensively used during the co-creation workshops conducted for idea brain-storming during the CCfCE (Co-Create for Circular Economy) workshop.

The cards are available in the online repository of the project for free download and usage (Creative Commons License).
Please write to me for the download link.


Collaborative Grain Storage and Service System (CGSS)

With an intention to design to cultivate well-being through circular economy, this project frames a holistic design thinking on circular economic principles, ideates design-for-circular-economy method cards for idea generation, and engages into design intervention through a six phase design process to develop a system of collaborative grain storage and service for the annually flood prone communities of the Brahmaputra valley in the state of Assam, India.

Here is a short introductory video on the project : inspiration, research and innovation.

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Co-Create for Circular Economy : A Co-Design Workshop

Participatory design engages multiple creativity experts to engage into a common discussion of ideation and design. The constraints of one mind often gets dodged with multiple perspectives put together.

The following workshop was conceptualized to aware designers on circular economy and together experiment ideation and ideation techniques on a live system project. This co-creating workshop was designed to facilitate multiple minds to creatively engage on one single platform to identify opportunities and ideate on concepts, solutions and simultaneously anticipate possible impacts of the ideated concepts.

This was a two day workshop carried out at NID will multi-disciplinary pool of designers to collaboratively understand the horizons of circular economy. The workshop focused on exploring opportunities within a given framework to co-ideate concepts focused on cultivating well-being and social sustainability through circular economic principles on the given case study of the flood-prone communities of Assam.

Workshop framework


The schematic and framework of the co-creation workshop on circular economy

Workshop Tasks


You have reached the end of this post. Thank you for visiting. For more information and content on this workshop, kindly write to me. The project and the displayed content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Design Thinking Workbook for Effective Social Services

Design Thinking is perceived as the new age methodology to make services, products and systems more effective for a better co-living. In our system design project aimed at facilitating individuals, group of individuals and social organizations for effective social services, we studied the act of doing social good by studying the different stakeholders, conduct surveys, and co create design thinking workshops. (More information regarding the project – The Fabric of Social Seva)


The different driving forces that helped in conceptualizing and creating the workbook

This workbook has been conceptualized as a perennial beta project, under collaborative development for continuous evolution, testing and implementation.

THE SOCIAL SEVA WORKBOOK  (version alpha 1.0, Published on May 10, 2016)


The Fabric of Social Seva

Project collaborators: Alisha Nisar, Bhaskarjyoti Das, Ramanuj Nanhoriya and Prof. Praveen Nahar, NID Ahmedabad, India

Project Summary: Click here to download

In our last assignment under the module of system design, a part of the course of Masters of Design in Product Design, we evaluated the concepts of design intervention for creating a fertile-for-innovation ecosystem that celebrates the act of doing-things-together and develop the quality of interaction among all stakeholders.


The journey started with developing a complex mapping of the global and local wicked problems that existed in the current world and evaluating opportunities for design intervention. What intrigued us the most was the act of doing social service which, although existed in huge numbers, was still to make an effective action and keep up with the  exponential rise of population, rapid urbanization and overall demographic social change.

In India, there are around 31 lac NGOs, almost 1 for every 600 people for 1.2 billion people today. The population is exponentially growing with more people missing a good quality of life. This demands the social organizations and initiatives to be much more efficient and effective, and needs active collaborative effort from the country’s idea-rich growing population.

While studying the wicked problems prevalent in the society, we saw various levels of complex inter-dependencies and solving one aspect of the problem at a time gives rise to several others. Hence, solving such wicked problems require a system level approach rather than a linear one. One has to intervene into not just the problem but all its inter-dependencies simultaneously in order to find an effective solution that adds value to the society.

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Systems thinking, as a design tool or methodology, put into action to understand the complexity of the inter-connected factors for social service can help us celebrate the inconsistencies of the problem and yet facilitate designing and devising processes to realize the vision of action.

Compiling and mapping some of the different design tools and approaches to understand the well woven fabric of social service, we started to look at the entire arena by zooming in and out. Following are few of the theoretical research mappings: (the subject of the map is highlighted on each image)

We simultaneously created a holistic and discreet understanding of the intent of the project and also evaluated the driving forces that projects a probable design intervention in the arena of social service.


The intent of the project had developed to the idea of transforming to a new civilization which understands the need of a quality interaction and the idea of creating and doing things together in a much more engaged and holistic manner which encompasses the need of empathy between stakeholders and understanding not on a point-to-point basis but also understanding the bigger picture with the points as leverage points of the entire designed or evolved system.


We reached out to several individuals, groups and NGOs working in the field of social service based in and around Ahmedabad and understood their layers of work, visions and ideologies, quality of interaction and empathy among the volunteers and participants of the social work.

We conducted several design workshops with the volunteers and workers of NGOs in order to assess the overall societal and social impact and co-create both efficient and effective ways of reaching their vision along with celebrating their own and unique ways of engaging in a social activity. These also helped us in understanding the problems discreetly and much more empathetically. We also realized that apart from putting across an analytical and logical perspective to co-research the leverage points and co-create ideas for change, it was important to understand and evaluate through subjective and individualistic perspectives.

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We subsequently created several iterations to visualize the problems and generate tools to facilitate the design upgradation of actions and actions in systems for design disruption.

Compiling the entire study, we devised a connected systems giga-map to understand the global picture of the project as a whole:

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The Fabric of Social Seva

Simultaneously, we co-developed a workbook for facilitating and enhancing the act of social service and help humanitarians do a self-impact-assessment, using design tools specifically developed for this context. This document can be printed, shared and collaboratively used for realizing effectiveness along with efficiency.

The complete documentation of the project,

THE FABRIC OF SOCIAL SEVA  (Complete Documentation, Published on May 10, 2016)

Seems like you have reached the end of this post, kindly send me your comments, suggestions and collaborative proposals to design a better world, together.

FullUse – P2P Service Design

FullUse is a concept share and lease platform for optimal shared consumption of lifestyle products among urban youth. This was initiated as a part of the Circular Economy Design Hackathon called #hack_dif, organized by Ellen MacArthur Foundation at three different institutes, simultaneously and live, across the world.