Design for the New World (Book)

From Human Design to Planet Design

Design for the New World: From Human Design to Planet Design offers an innovative combination of design and design thinking, systemic leadership, and indigenous thinking, that can reshape the way we think about and work with sustainable transformation. 81 colour illustrations.

A PDF version of this book is available for free in Open Access: Design for the New World. It has been made available under a Creative Common Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.


Design for the New World aims to introduce a new paradigm in design and design thinking, by shifting our approach from a human perspective that is primarily focused on human scales, needs, and desires, to a planet perspective, in which design is guided by the ambition to create a balanced coexistence between humans and the other species that make up the global ecosystem.

The book intervenes in current discussions within design research about what role design can play in the sustainable transition, by offering new methods and mindset to handle the giant-scale complexity of the climate and environmental crisis, as well as specific tools to turn these theoretical reflections into a transformative practice.

Essential reading for researchers, students, and practitioners in the fields of design, innovation, development, entrepreneurship, leadership, art, and creativity. The book is structured so that it can be easily used in an educational context, both at under- and postgraduate level and in courses of business, innovation, or management training. The practical suggestions and process-management tools can be used to facilitate sustainable transformations in in commercial businesses, organizations, and political networks.

Written in an accessible and clear style, where all technical terms are fully introduced and unpacked. The chapters can be read in order or independently, and the practical tools for facilitating processes of change are supplemented with additional questions for reflection and further development.

Ida Engholm is a professor at the Royal Danish Academy, School of Design.


Being in the


page 14


Chapter 1:

A Journey of


How Did We

Get Here?

page 46


Chapter 2:

Wicked Problems.

How Can We Handle

the Trouble?

page 78


Chapter 3:

Zooming In and Out.

What Is Our


page 120


Chapter 4:

The Needs of

the System.

Who Is in Charge?

page 152


Chapter 5:

Creating Change.

How Do We Get


page 168


Chapter 6:


How Might We?

page 226



page 256



page 260



page 260



page 266

'The book is driven by a strong ethical agenda regarding design’s responsibility and role in social development. [...] Engholm’s book is a lengthy defence of design thinking and design methods’ particular relevance in addressing hypercomplex sustainability challenges.[...] To me, the strength of the book thus lies in its precise identification of the way the Anthropocene and the development of the concept of design raise fundamental questions about design’s role and responsibility, and one can only have respect for the impressive amount of knowledge that is synthesized in the book and the author’s willingness to think about it in relation to practice. With the inclusion of critical and speculative design, Engholm shows in the book how the Anthropocene opens a space of possible futures that demand democratic debate through collaborative processes, but which are increasingly limited by the consequences of our choices for the environment we ourselves create.'

Niels Peter Skou, Formkraft: Journal for Crafts & Design

Clarity, insight and hope for the future: what’s not to love about this book?

Professor of Sustainability, Design, Fashion, University of the Arts London Kate Fletcher

Change is everywhere and change is apparent in our time. The world is going through faster cycles of change than ever. The uncertainty levels are exploding and the horizons for classic planning are shrinking. Ida Engholm has written a book about how design fits into this new reality. She brilliantly shows us patterns, red threads and clues for bringing clarity and vision through design. Her astonishing overview across the field of idea history, philosophy and design academics are mixed with actual, practical models and examples. I can highly recommend this book to leaders and designers across the world who wonder how we can make the field of design a key strategic pillar in adopting to the new reality of this time.

Michael McKay, Head of Ørsted Design Center of Excellence, former Head of Global Design, PayPal

Ida Engholm has written a beautiful, insightful and inspirational book. What more could you ask for? Not only is this a significant design book, but it is also a striking and hugely motivational leadership book. Design for the New World offers one of the most compelling messages about how we can and how we must design, to achieve a new, sustainable and more just world.

Steen Hildebrandt, Professor Emeritus of management studies at University of Aarhus and and associate professor at Copenhagen Business School

This epic book offers a paradigm-shifting solid and tangible guide to all interested in being part designing a flourishing, thriving, regenerative world that aligns with the design principles of our magnificent planet. It gives the reader plenty of delicious nutrients to be able to design and dream into existence radical new design-thinking, doing and being. This book is truly a ground-breaking design guide that I deeply hope will be embedded in curriculums all over the world. It has to if we want to stand a chance.

Laura Storm, founder of Regenerators, World Economic Young Global Leader and co-author of Regenerative Leadership

A new dimension of design that emphasizes environmental and climate concerns has emerged. Design practice and design thinking are no longer operated in silos but closely connected to sustaining the planet we live in. Ida Engholm’s Design for the New World is one of the first design theory books that presents aholistic perspective of design and design thinking. This inspiring book demonstrates the focus of design being shifted from products to the planet – the greater whole that involves not only the environment but also the core values of being human in the complex world.

Dr. Nithikul Nimkulrat, Associate professor and acting chair material art and Design, Canada
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